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Into The Stratosphere

Best Western Makes Historic Deal Adding Las Vegas Resorts To Premier Collection

Thursday, June 29, 2017
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From left to right: Ron Pohl, COO & SVP, Best Western Hotels & Resorts; Dorothy Dowling, CMO & SVP, Best Western; David Kong, President & CEO, Best Western; Paul Hobson, GM, Stratosphere Hotel & Casino; Sean Hammond, GM, Aquarius Hotel & Casino; Terry Bichsel, Board Chairman, Best Western; Ned Martin, COO & CFO, American Casino and Entertainment Properties; and Peter Kwong, Board Member, Best Western.

More than two years in the making, Best Western Hotels & Resorts has completed the biggest deal in the company’s 70-year history and significantly bolstered its nascent Premier Collection with the addition of two high-profile resorts and more than 4,500 rooms.

The company revealed to Hotel Interactive® that the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas, as well as its sister property, the Aquarius Casino Resort in Laughlin, NV, are joining the BW Premier Collection. Both of the resorts are owned by American Casino and Entertainment Properties.

Best Western President and CEO David Kong talked about the importance of securing these deals to enhance the portfolio of the soft brand, which was launched in late 2015 and now includes some 30 hotels in North America and nearly 100 globally. “We’ve been working on this for over two years…We really wanted these two hotels to help us position BW Premier Collection, which has ramped up very nicely,” he said.

Ron Pohl, COO & SVP, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, underscored the point, specifically referencing the Stratosphere. “That hotel is renowned in Vegas. For us it’s really more about establishing the Premier Collection as a very competitive brand out there today. It’s been one of our fastest growing brands over the last couple of years, but in our niche they’re typically boutique-type properties, resort or downtown locations,” he said.

Opened in 1996, the Stratosphere features 2,427 guestrooms and suites and represents the tallest structure in Las Vegas, rising some 1,149 feet above the ground. It includes the tallest observation tower in the U.S. and a 24-hour casino, as well as upscale dining options, such as the Top of the World Restaurant.

According to Best Western, the property recently won 22 Best of Las Vegas Awards in the 2016 Las Vegas Review Journal readers’ poll, which is more than any Las Vegas Strip casino hotel property. Among the awards were Best View, Best Attraction and Best Dining.

Aquarius Casino Resort is the largest gaming resort in Laughlin, NV, and it includes some 1,906 rooms and suites as well as a 57,000 square-foot casino.

Kong, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of the brand’s unique fee structure in securing the deal. “Our BW Premier Collection uses a different approach than the other brands. The other brands take more of a royalty percentage of gross room revenue kind of approach, whereas our fee structure is really based on the business we deliver. We also have a compelling value proposition in the sense that these soft brand hotels will enjoy much lower OTA commissions, in this case they are going to save a lot of money just on that,” he said, adding they also have access to a lot of sales and marketing as well as operations support programs.

Kong also highlighted the value of having access to the company’s strong customer base and underscored its Las Vegas track record. “We know from past experience with our hotels in Las Vegas we can deliver a great deal of business to them. And that’s not just regular business, but this is going to be a very hot destination for BW Rewards as well,” he said.

Frank Riolo, CEO, ACEP, talked about some of the aforementioned benefits and why the company went with Premier Collection in a press release. “We were searching for the right soft brand to align with and it was immediately clear that Best Western Hotels & Resorts shares our commitment to delivering a unique and exceptional travel experience at a great value. Not only that we will have access to Best Western’s second to none brand support, online platforms and loyalty program, while our properties maintain their iconic identities in both Las Vegas and Laughlin.”

According to Pohl, the company opened four BW Premier Collection properties in 2016 and has 18 more in the pipeline. The company has a goal of adding another 18 to the pipeline in 2017.

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