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INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS (IHG) has launched the Staybridge Suites brand in the UK focused on extended stay guests - those who stay for more than five nights. The first properties, each a franchise, will open in 2006. In the meantime an impressive marketing mock-up has been built in the grounds of the Heathrow Holiday Inn incorporating a 20 square metre studio room and a 30 square metre accommodation unit with lounge and bedroom.
Each suite offers a flat screen TV, DVD player and fully equipped kitchen including cooker, fridge/freezer, dishwasher and microwave. Free laundry and a grocery shopping services are also available.
The concept includes a communal lounge area where a complimentary breakfast is served in the morning and a manager”s reception is offered each evening Monday to Thursday including light refreshments. IHG points out that 8.8m room nights were taken by UK domestic travellers who stayed more than five nights in the same place in 2003. 5.1m were taken by overseas visitors to the UK who stayed for a similar period.
The design of the facility allows for a more social environment to be established with long-term clients. The extended stay market in the USA now has 280,000 rooms in approximately 2,000 hotels. Two new build Staybridge Suites properties will open in late 2006, one, with 124 rooms in Brentford, operated by The Splendid Hotel Group, West London, and convenient for Heathrow. BDL, another established IHG franchisee is establishing a division to offer a 113 rooms facility on London”s South Bank.
IHG currently operates 79 Staybridge Suites in North America and with 52 new properties in the pipeline it is the fastest growing upscale extended stay brand in the market. The Heathrow site has been established to explain the concept to both prospective franchisee”s and potential major users.