Get in Touch

Sponsored: Sonesta continues expansive development

Sponsored: Sonesta continues expansive development

Fast-growing hotel group introduces new Luxury & Lifestyle Portfolio lodging development team, and fast, friendly and flexible approach.

Expansion of hotel brands continues to be a growing trend as hospitality companies listen to the new demands from guests in a post-pandemic world. There is growth at all levels throughout the chain scale—from economy to luxury, including the new full service, focused service and extended stay brands that are being introduced.

One overriding question this expansion poses for hotel companies is how do you stand out in this ever-growing sea of opportunities?

Sector-spanning brands, expert leadership

The recent introduction of The Royal Sonesta and The James brands now available for franchising from Sonesta International Hotels led to the increase in the size of the lodging development team and a more tightly focused scope to create true experts in each of what will now be three categories of brands.

The Luxury & Lifestyle Portfolio will include The Royal Sonesta and The James brands and will be led by industry leader and new Sonesta senior vice president Phil Hugh and industry veteran and new Sonesta regional vice president Bill Hall, with current regional vice presidents Mike Higgins and Tom Williams rounding out the team. The focus will be on development in the luxury and lifestyle space in North America.

The Premium Portfolio, led by senior vice president Shane Platt and his team, includes representation of Sonesta Hotels & Resorts, Sonesta Select, Sonesta Essential, Sonesta ES Suites and Sonesta Simply Suites introduced to the market for franchise in September, 2022. There is a growing appetite for these focused service brands that are still relatively new to market, especially in the extended stay and new Sonesta Essential brands.

The Value Portfolio, led by senior vice president Jason Yarbrough and his team, includes all of the former Red Lion Hotel legacy portfolio: Red Lion Hotel, Red Lion Inn & Suites, Signature Inn, GuestHouse Extended Stay, Knights Inn and Americas/Canadas Best Value Inn brands. The majority of the Sonesta portfolio of 1,200 hotels comes from these economy and mid-scale brands and they continue to garner attention for flexible fees, limited commitment terms (as little as three years) and a nationwide team of franchise service providers.

The lodging development team also added Marco Roca as the development lead/senior vice president for Sonesta in South & Central America, Mexico & Caribbean late last year. Under his leadership, Sonesta will continue to grow its presence in this region—specifically expanding from just the Sonesta Hotels & Resorts and Sonesta Posadas del Inca brands offered previously to introduce The Royal Sonesta, The James, Sonesta Select, Sonesta ES Suites, Sonesta Simply Suites, Red Lion Hotel/Red Lion Inn & Suites and Signature Inn to the market.

For Sonesta, setting up new brand striation will lead to more efficiencies and portfolio growth. In 2022, the first full year of Sonesta Franchising, the company saw 74 new openings and a robust pipeline of deals over the immediate and long-term future. With the addition of The James in the lifestyle space in the new Luxury & Lifestyle Portfolio, and Sonesta Essential as a new addition to the Premium Portfolio, Sonesta is starting the year with significant owner interest and momentum.

Value proposition for owners, franchisees

When it comes down to it, Sonesta’s value proposition to owners, investors and developers from the lodging development team is to be fast, friendly and flexible from initiating the deal to how we engage with owners and franchisees. It’s a point of differentiation that we’re proud to share.

The Sonesta model is fast, with systems in place giving confidence to all sides when executing a new deal. The lodging development team ensures just 30 days elapse from application to execution. Owners can be comfortable that a conforming hotel will be 60 days from the application to opening. Franchisees can be assured that we have a 12-hour resolution commitment from owner relations for a response once an issue is raised.

Friendly is brought to life with our company-wide bias toward “yes”. The desire is there to find a way to make it work whether for new build or conversion opportunities. New owners have access to the Sonesta executive leadership team as a resource as they begin building their business. Consulting services are available for all hotels in the Sonesta portfolio, regardless of the brand affiliation.

Our flexibility is a key strength to doing business with Sonesta. You’ll find reasonable market-based standards with a limited number of hallmarks for each brand that can’t be touched, and others that are more flexible. We’re owners and operators too, so we understand operating demands and reasonable brand standards focused on the guest experience and return on investment.

Size matters in this industry. Owners are able to take advantage of the cost savings and ease of use made possible by our tailored solutions regarding technology and our relationships with vendors.

At the end of the day, signing the deal isn’t the end of the story, it’s the beginning. The relationship with owners, developers, franchisees and investors is an ongoing story, with opportunities to work together for the better growth and development for everyone involved. We’re excited to have a growing place in that ongoing effort as we march into 2023.


By Brian Quinn, Chief Development Officer, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation