For Superior Lodging Corp., much of 2012 was spent laying the groundwork for new development. “I call it a transitional year and a big planning year,” says Eric Watson, VP of the Calgary-based Superior Lodging Corp. “A lot of what happened in 2012 is now starting to play out in development and construction.”
Much of last year’s planning was focused on Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, a modern, new-construction only, prototypical brand in the economy segment. It was added to Superior Lodging’s master franchise portfolio in 2011 through a joint venture with developer/builder Jayman Masterbuilt called MasterBuilt Hotels. “[Microtel is] really the focus of our efforts now, and we’re bullish on that,” says Marc Staniloff, president and CEO of Superior Lodging Corp., also the master developer in Canada of Super 8 and Wingate by Wyndham.
The first new Microtel Inn & Suites prototype opened in Estevan, Sask., in September 2012 and features 79 rooms; a 92-room property also opened in Timmins, Ont., in January. Construction has commenced on properties in resource-rich communities in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Meanwhile, another five properties in Western Canada and one in Kirkland Lake, Ont., are expected to break ground this year.
The company is slated to build 75 Microtels across the country by 2036. The focus is on secondary and tertiary markets that have been underserviced and/or are experiencing strong economic growth and demand for higher-quality lodging. “[Microtel] is the Four Seasons of the 10,000- to 50,000-person marketplaces,” says Watson. “It provides [guests] with new and contemporary accommodations that other brands haven’t been able to deliver.”
Last year was also a heavy planning year for a side-by-side Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott, another joint project with MasterBuilt. The hotels will be situated beside the new South Health campus in Seton, Calgary. The two Marriott properties, with 224 rooms in total, are expected to open in spring 2015.
While new development was the focus in 2012, Superior Lodging’s existing assets performed solidly overall, with revenues reaching $210 million, up from $178 million in 2011. For 136 Super 8 locations, occupancy was 59.4 per cent, ADR was $103.12 and RevPAR was $61.26 in 2012.
Superior Lodging added Super 8 conversion properties in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and Ontario. “We are continuing to look to opportunities on how to add to the Super 8 brand,” says Staniloff. “We have about 140 open in Canada and feel that our total build out is probably around the 200 mark.”
Last year also marked the opening of a new hotel-management division. Superior Lodging has taken over the management of Super 8 locations in Alberta and B.C., as well as at the Microtel in Estevan, Sask. The plan is to add up to seven properties into its hotel-management group in the next year and up to 50 properties over the next five years.
Looking ahead, Watson is cautiously optimistic about the economy and the hotel industry. “We’re very encouraged by our existing operating assets,” he says. “Interest rates continue to be very competitive; now is a good time to be jumping in.”