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Gearing Up For Growth

By Dennis Nessler | February 4, 2021

ROCKVILLE, MD—Choice Hotels International Inc. has recently bolstered both its personnel department as well as its MainStay Suites portfolio with three new hires in franchising and 15 conversion properties, respectively.

This week the company named three new regional VPs—Odette Brown, Glenn Gordon and Gary Mills—to advance its corporate priorities and drive growth. Meanwhile, Choice Hotels International last month demonstrated its commitment to growing MainStay Suites with the conversion of 15 properties bringing the midscale extended-stay brand close to the century milestone.

The 15 hotels—which were previously Hawthorn Suites properties—were awarded to Gulf Coast Hotel Management, Inc. in what represents the largest portfolio deal to date for MainStay Suites.

Ron Burgett, SVP, franchise development, extended stay, Choice Hotels, talked about the company’s recent emphasis on the brand following the acquisition of its sister brand WoodSpring Suites.

“Over the last three years we have really taken a second look at MainStay and we really reimaged the brand. In 2019, we put a new logo out, but we also looked at all of our operations and our technology. When this opportunity came up we said ‘why don’t we look at Choice’s MainStay brand for this portfolio?’” he said.

Burgett, meanwhile, explained why Gulf Coast Management—which is the second largest WoodSpring Suites franchisee with some 22 properties owned, and specifically CEO Ian McClure—was afforded the opportunity.

“He’s very familiar with how we operate at Choice with our extended-stay segment. He knows the WoodSpring brand inside and out,” he said, adding McClure is also a member of Choice’s franchise owners council.

McClure explained the deal from his perspective.

“Choice made a commitment several years ago with the acquisition of WoodSpring. Gulf Coast and myself really got involved with the senior management at Choice and their commitment to making sure that extended-stay [segment] really begins to grow. It was a really an easy decision for us [based on] past relationships, their commitment and really where these markets are located,” he said.

Choice described the hotels as being in major markets across the U.S. with some of the notable cities including Salt Lake City, UT; Charlotte, NC; Louisville, KY; Omaha, NE; as well as three in the Chicago area in Schaumburg, Wheeling and Hoffman Estates, IL.

“We were looking at top 50 MSA’s across the country and this kind of satisfied that in one fell swoop,” said Burgett, who added that while the properties have already officially switched over to MainStay they would undergo significant enhancements over the next 12-18 months.

According to the company, these new MainStay Suites hotels were purposefully designed for long staying guests with spacious, apartment style suites featuring fully equipped kitchens and hotel amenities such as fitness rooms, on-site marketplaces, and guest laundry facilities.

McClure pointed out the company is actually expecting to finish the renovations within 2021 and is starting the first redo in the next few weeks. He noted some of the changes would include replacing the case goods, flooring, wall coverings as well as exterior enhancements and generally just “bringing them up to 2021.”

On the personnel side, Brown has been promoted to regional VP (RVP) of franchise services, overseeing the mid-southern U.S. region. In this role, she will join an RVP team that spans the country, leading assigned area directors, regional area directors and area managers. Together, these teams will work to optimize hotel portfolio support strategies while helping drive hotel owner profitability, market share growth and other performance metrics, according to the company. Brown joined the company in 2014 as an area director and was elevated to regional area director in 2018. Prior to that, she was an area general manager and general manager for several hotels for nearly 10 years.

Gordon is returning to Choice in the new role of RVP of franchise sales development for the Ascend Hotel Collection brand. In this new position, he will lead the growth of the brand’s footprint in the southeast U.S. and the Caribbean, sourcing new projects and securing new franchise agreements. Gordon brings more than 15 years of franchising experience to Choice, including his prior work for the company’s franchise sales development team as well as roles with Value Place, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and StayAPT Suites.

Mills joins Choice as RVP of franchise sales development for the Cambria Hotels brand. In this role, he will lead the growth of the brand’s footprint in Texas and the mid-central region, sourcing new projects and securing new franchise agreements. With more than 40 years in the hotel industry, Mills joined Choice after serving as VP of real estate at NewcrestImage LLC, where he helped double the size of the company. Throughout his career, he also worked at Hilton Hotels Corporation, assisting with the launch of the Hilton Garden Inn brand as well as Dream Hotel Group and the Doubletree Hotels Corporation.




Dennis Nessler

Dennis Nessler is Editor-in-Chief of Hotel Interactive, parent company of Hotel Community Forum. Nessler brings more than 28 years of editorial experience to his position, including some 17 years in the hospitality industry. As part of his duties, Nessler not only covers the industry editorially but moderates various high-level panel sessions at hospitality events and frequently conducts one-on-one interviews with C-level executives.

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