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Cornering The Market

DC Area Embassy Suites Looks For Lift From Recent Renovation, New Food Concept

Monday, July 02, 2018
Dennis Nessler
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In close proximity to Hilton’s corporate headquarters where the vision for the brand’s updated design was developed, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tysons Corner earlier this week revealed its new look for guests following a comprehensive renovation.

The hotel stayed open for the nearly $15 million revamp, which began in September and included the guestrooms, public spaces, fitness center and exterior, not to mention the rollout of a new food & beverage concept called the Embassy Suites E’terie & Marketplace.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the redo, Alan Roberts, global head, Embassy Suites by Hilton, touted the property as “an illustration of where [the brand] is going to be for the next 30 years.”

The 234-room all-suite hotel—which was acquired by Noble Investment Group in 2016 and is managed by HEI Hotels & Resorts—was among the brand’s first properties to open in 1984. The hotel now features an eight-story atrium lobby, business center and Hertz rental car desk, as well as four meeting spaces with more than 2,375 square-feet of flexible meeting space.

Roberts pointed out that prior to the renovation the property had been recognized by USA Today as one of the top 20 hotels in the Washington, DC metro area as he praised the hotel’s management. “Even with that to their credit, they recognized they couldn’t just rest on their laurels. To stay out in front of the customers and to stay out in front of the market you have to do some things and they certainly did something,” he said.

Roberts added of the finished product, “I’m thrilled to now have this [hotel] in my backyard so that I can bring other owners and investors over to experience this for themselves.”

Rachel Moniz, SVP, luxury lifestyle and independent brands and food & beverage operations at HEI Hotels & Resorts, also addressed the hotel’s guests that were on hand for the celebration. “My favorite part of today was sitting here and watching everybody start to file in and watching the expressions on your faces as you saw what it is we see today. The last time I was at this hotel was probably a year ago and it looked very different,” she said.

The hotel’s new design pays homage to Washington, DC and the journey to the urban DC metropolis. As guests leave the lobby and transition into the atrium, the design mimics the idea of transit, just as a person would experience taking the underground metro from Tysons Corner to Washington, DC, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Roberts described the new food & beverage concept as “bartender driven” and noted a half-dozen Embassy hotels have now added E’terie, one of two “off the shelf concepts” for F&B from the brand.

“E’terie was designed specifically for these legacy hotels when they go through their renovations as a plug-and-play solution for food & beverage. The idea is that you can implement it off of the existing cook stations and it’s very bar-centric so it plays off the complementary bar space that’s already there,” explained Roberts.

Moniz commented, “The whole point to the new F&B concept E’terie—that the innovative team with Hilton came up with and we executed—is this idea of it being this amazing social space and that’s really what we see here today.”

Roberts explained that E’terie is designed to work hand-in-hand with the brand’s signature evening reception, which has also been updated to emphasize the potential for upselling and gives the hotel the opportunity to have guests sample menu items.

While E’terie represents a fast casual dining concept, the brand’s other F&B concept is called Brickstone, which is designed to be more of a contemporary, full-service restaurant for new hotels using the Design Option III prototype.

Roberts pointed that the brand worked with a company called MarkeTeam for the development of the E’terie menu. He noted they worked with an in-house chef to test various food items. Roberts further added the menu concept features many “sharables” to accommodate the changing dining habits of today’s guests. “They eat much faster and simpler and that’s what this is designed to do,” he said.

Roberts also emphasized there isn’t necessarily any extra cost associated with operating the new concept while stating the overall objective. “The whole purpose in doing this was a profitability play for our owners and a guest satisfaction play for our guests,” he said.

Roberts acknowledged the brand has traditionally been flexible with regards to F&B partnerships that various franchisees might have already established provided they make sense and fit with the brand. However, while he noted that remains the case Roberts remains focused on a broad-scale rollout of the aforementioned concepts.

“There is a lot of low hanging fruit out there across the Embassy brand where this or Brickstone would very easily be adaptable. So I need to have those conversations with those ownership groups,” he said, adding that a few select owners are top of mind that could potentially enable the conversion of a “large chunk of hotels.

Roberts pointed out that the brand is going through an “entire cycle of renovation.” Of its nearly 250 properties, more than 80 have completed its atrium refresh and he noted nearly 40 percent of the brand is currently in active PIPs. As such, Roberts added he hopes to have the updated food & beverage concepts implemented at most, if not all, of the brand’s properties by 2020 or 2021.

The hotel’s general manager Kevin Varr acknowledged he expects to get some rate lift as a result of having a “completely new product.” He noted the ADR for the hotel within the past year was in the $200 range even as it was in the midst of a renovation.

Varr pointed out the Tysons Corner area is a competitive lodging market, while adding “some products in the market have renovated, but there are a lot that haven’t so we should be able to leverage a little more on that.”

Varr concluded, “This is definitely a new beginning for this hotel and our team is looking forward to taking this beautiful product to the next level.”


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Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
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