Canada recorded its second-highest number of visitors in 2016 — higher than any other year since 2002, according to Destination Canada. This was good news for the hotel industry, which saw occupancy remain solid at an average of 64.5 per cent, an average RevPAR of $96 and ADRs inching upwards to $149. For Hotelier’s Top 50 hotel companies, the year closed out with total estimated gross sales of $16.5 billion.

Mergers and acquisitions kept industry analysts on their toes again last year, with the Starwood/Marriott merger — originally announced in late 2015 — dominating the news for the first half of 2016. Then, in July, Toronto-based InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust was bought by Hong Kong-backed Bluesky Hotels and Resorts, Inc., for $2.1 billion.

September was a busy month for M&A activity, starting with Tokyo-based APA Hotel Group’s purchase of Canadian-based Coast Hotels — a deal that added 38 branded Western North American properties to the APA portfolio, bringing its total to more than 400 locations. On Sept. 14, Colliers International announced the sale of the Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre to Silver Hotel Group for $34 million. Finally, Toronto’s iconic Four Seasons hotel was sold to Shahid Khan —the Pakistan-American founder of Flex-N-Gate Group, a manufacturer of auto parts — for $225 million.

With all of this M&A activity, it comes as no surprise that this year’s Top 50 Report has seen a number of companies move up the ranks, with totals now, in many cases, reflecting combined sales numbers. The competitive landscape has also changed considerably, causing many companies to not release sales numbers — resulting in a number of estimates in this year’s report.

LEADING THE WAY
Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has once again come out on top in this year’s Top 50 Report with an estimated $4.9 billion in gross sales (including properties outside of Canada). The private company currently manages three units in Canada and 102 internationally — with new properties opening last year in Vietnam, Japan, Maldives, Indonesia, U.A.E., New York and Hawaii. In October 2016, the company opened the doors of its new Research and Discovery Studio in Toronto, which boasts a space for building three-dimensional replicas of guestrooms entirely of cardboard. Designed to scale and customized with beds, closets, end tables, doorways and chairs, the Modular Room creates the opportunity to manipulate space and test unusual layouts and particularly challenging room designs before moving into production of a full model room. Recently, the company announced plans to open a hotel and private residences in Montreal in 2018.

Following last year’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Marriott Hotels of Canada — a subsidiary of Marriott International — climbed one spot in the Top 50 Report to take over second place from the former FRHI Hotels & Resorts (the company is now owned by Paris-based AccorHotels). With 2016 sales of $1.8 billion, up three per cent over 2015, Marriott Hotels of Canada now boasts 215 Canadian hotels in its portfolio.

Locking up the number-3 position is Accor Canada Inc., whose dramatic leap from 25th spot in 2015 is attributed to the addition of Fairmont Raffles Hotels International properties acquired in July 2016. The company’s 27-property portfolio reported an estimated $817.8 million in gross sales for 2016.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), based in Atlanta, Ga. came in at number four with an estimated $793 million in gross sales, IHG jumps three spots in this year’s report. Early this year, the company announced plans for its first dual-branded property in Canada — one of 31 hotels currently in the IHG pipeline for Canada.

With $768 million in gross sales last year, Wyndham Hotel Group of Parsippany, N.J. rounds out the top five companies in this year’s Top 50. With a portfolio of brands that includes Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Wyndham Garden Hotels, Tryp by Wyndham, Wingate by Wyndham, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Ramada, Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, Travelodge and Knights Inn, Wyndham currently has 506 properties in Canada.

INDUSTRY STANDOUTS
Oshawa-Ont.-based Sunray Group of Hotels posted another stand out year, increasing its gross sales by 52 per cent from $75.2 million in 2015 to $114.5million in 2016. In the past year, the group acquired eight hotels and is planning for further acquisitions in 2017.

Superior Lodging Corp., which owns 250 hotels across the country under the Super 8, Microtel, Thriftlodge and Travelodge banners, grew its gross sales by 61 per cent last year, thanks to the addition of sales numbers from its Canadian Travelodge properties (which were ranked seperately in last year’s Top 50 ranking). Sitting in 13th spot in this year’s report, Superior recorded sales of $324 million for 2016 and has plans to open 75 Microtel locations by 2036, with six set to open in the next two years. It is also set to add 15 new Travelodge locations to its portfolio in 2017.

A perennial presence on the Top 50 Report, Toronto-based Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada once again climbed the rankings, up four spots to number 21 with gross sales of $130 million. Last year Crescent added the Hilton Metrotown in Burnaby, B.C.; Four Points Surrey, B.C.; Courtyard Saskatoon Airport and Courtyard Cold Lake, Alta. to its portfolio with plans to open new Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Mississauga, Ont. and Prince George, B.C. in 2017.

NEWCOMERS
This year’s Top 50 Report features a few first-time participants, such as Calgary-based Clique Hotels & Resorts. Sitting in 41st spot with $30.5 million in gross sales, the private, Canadian-owned company owns and manages seven properties in Alberta and is set to open The Malcolm Hotel in Canmore, Alta. in early 2018.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation had a big year in 2016, introducing two new brands — Andaz and Hyatt House — to the Canadian market. With gross sales of $175 million (good enough for 18th position), Hyatt also launched its new loyalty program, World of Hyatt, in 2016.

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