Developer Launches Urban Boutique Hotel Brand

Developer Associated Ventures L.L.C. has launched a new limited-service, urban boutique hotel brand, to be called Hotel Highland. The first hotel in the collection, the Hotel Highland at Biltmore, is scheduled to open in September, following the $3 million conversion of a 120-room Phoenix Inn Suites hotel in the Biltmore area of Phoenix. In addition to the hotel, the developer plans to build an 80-unit condominium tower, when market conditions are favorable again. Associated Ventures will look to acquire properties outright for conversion to the new brand, said Melanie Pennell-Mayer, managing member of Associated Ventures, LLC. “We’ll look for owners who are in a selling mode,” said Pennell-Mayer. But the developer is also open to striking joint venture agreements with owners of hotels with an adjacent developable land parcel, for example. “You have owners who want to stay involved with the hotel, perhaps they go a long way back in the community,” she added. Pennell-Mayer said a typical candidate for a Hotel Highland is an existing mainstream branded hotel, which has reached the stage where a costly property improvement plan–or PIP–is required to conform to brand standards. The cost of the PIP would not generate the income that could be achieved by repositioning the hotel to a Hotel Highland, which will not be constrained by an ADR ceiling that many brands require, Pennell-Mayer contended. The hotels will have unique characteristics that reflect the region or city they are located in, with restaurants that will offer food choices based on the local cuisine. The Hotel Highland at Biltmore, for example, will have in-room refreshment centers that will feature wines from local wineries, beers from area microbreweries, and organic items for snacks that are indigenous to the area. Other Hotel Highlands will typically feature full-service restaurants. But the Hotel Highland at Biltmore will not, because of a wealth of restaurants nearby, she said. Hotel Highland will also not target a certain age demographic. “We try not to look at it as an age demographic,” Pennell-Mayer said. “It’s more a mind set, someone who is style conscious, and also value conscious, who won’t pay $12 for a bottle of water Associated Ventures is now in negotiation for properties in Tucson, Ariz. and Chicago, and is planning for significant growth. == “We don’t want to put a cap on our growth,” Pennell-Mayer said .