It was a banner year for Canada’s tourism industry. In 2018, the country hosted 21.13-million international tourists — the highest number on record — according to Vancouver-based Destination Canada. This is the second-consecutive year Canada has broken a tourism record and the first time the 21-million mark was surpassed.
This translated into growth for the Canadian hotel industry, which recorded strong performance across all key performance metrics. Data from Tennessee-based STR shows hotel demand was up by two per cent, while supply growth was up one per cent, further strengthening hotel pricing power.
Additionally, hotel occupancy in 2018 was the highest the country has seen since 1999. In year-over-year comparisons, the industry reported a one-per-cent increase in occupancy to 66.3 per cent, according to STR. The country also experienced a 4.3-per-cent lift in Average Daily Rate (ADR) to $163.40, as well as 5.3-per-cent growth in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) to $108.39.
And the proof is in the numbers — Hotelier’s Top-50 hotel companies closed out 2018 with total gross sales of approximately $21 billion (up from $19 billion last year).
Top of Their Game
Leading the charge again on this year’s Top 50 Report, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recorded an estimated $5,652.3 billion in gross sales, up from an estimated $5,188.8 billion in 2017. In 2018, the company opened a number of new properties, including Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Four Seasons Philadelphia and Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo at Nações.
“Four Seasons is well positioned for continued success in 2019 with the steady and strategic growth of our global portfolio,” says Christian Clerc, president, Worldwide Hotel Operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “Our portfolio continues to grow at a healthy pace as we focus on projects of the highest quality, in the destinations where our guests want to be.”
Marriott Hotels of Canada maintained second place on this year’s Top 50 with $3.1 billion in gross sales across its 240 Canadian properties. Last year, the company opened 13 properties in Canada and currently has a number of projects in the pipeline.
“For Marriott, 2018 was the year we unified and consolidated our merger with Starwood,” says Don Cleary, president, Marriott Hotels of Canada. “We also merged our loyalty programs into one combined loyalty program [Bonvoy] that’s now 125-million members strong — 5.7 million in Canada. And then, more significantly, we put all the Starwood Hotels onto the Marriott platforms and reservations.”
Cleary says, in Canada, Marriott continued to see good results in in 2018. “Hotel performance in Canada saw another strong year. And, I’m proud of our teams — that they managed through all of the integration and still put good numbers on the boards. So, it was, overall, an excellent year for us.”
Following a transformational 2017, in which Accor acquired 21c Museum Hotels, the company closed out 2018 with estimated gross sales of $940 million, finishing third on the Top 50 Report.
According to Kevin Frid, COO, North & Central America, Accor, the 21c Museum acquisition offers “a tremendous opportunity to grow the 21c brand, as well as introduce MGallery into the North-American market, building both brand equities and further expanding the full range of unparalleled experiences for our guests. This strategic acquisition marks a new step in Accor’s strategy of being the leading player in the luxury-and-lifestyle segment in North America.”
The Canadian subsidiary of the global brand owns, franchises and manages 27 hotels, including Fairmont, Novotel and Sofitel properties.
Holding on to fourth position in this year’s report, Hilton Worldwide recorded $900 million in gross sales — up from $844 million the previous year. In 2018, the brand opened its first triple-branded property in Chicago and continued its expansion in Canada. It also launched a new upscale brand focused on meetings and events — Signia Hilton — and unveiled Motto by Hilton, a new lifestyle brand designed to offer affordable accommodations in the world’s most sought-after cities.
In fifth place on this year’s Top 50 Report, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) recorded estimated gross sales of $843.5 million, up from an estimated $802.7 million in 2017. Last year, the company unveiled a new upscale brand, Voco, and opened its 100th Holiday Inn Express hotel in Canada. In addition, IHG opened its first Avid hotel property in Oklahoma. In February 2019, the hotel behemoth acquired Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas — a group of 16 resorts and hotels, as well as 37 spas and a wine estate — for $300 million.
Finishing in the number-6 spot, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts recorded estimated gross sales of $788.9 million and increased its Canadian property count to 490. Last year, the company bought La Quinta Holdings for $1.9 billion, acquiring more than 900 franchised hotels. The brand also opened hotels in Kamloops, B.C., Saint John, N.B., Swift Current, Sask. and Redwater, Alta.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts rose two spots to the number-7 position with sales of $630.5 million — a $30-million jump from 2017 — for its portfolio of 193 Canadian properties. In late 2018, the company welcomed the newest addition to its BW Premier Collection by Best Western hotels with the opening of the newly renovated Prestige Radium Hot Springs Resort in Radium Hot Springs, B.C. It also introduced two boutique brands — Sadie Hotel and Aiden Hotel — designed to compete in the upscale and upper-midscale segments respectively.
Manga Hotels also had a stellar year, moving up four spots to number-21 in this year’s Top 50 Report — thanks to the acquisition of three new hotel properties in Atlantic Canada and the addition of a Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton in Buffalo, N.Y. The company closed out the year with $165 million in gross sales — up from $110 million in 2017.
With $150 million in gross sales across 15 Canadian properties in 2018, Crescent Hotels & Resorts finished in 22nd spot in the Top 50 Report. In 2018, Crescent was selected to manage and convert an extended-stay hotel in Vaughan, Ont. and added The Broadview Hotel in Toronto to its Latitudes collection of lifestyle hotels.
Sunray Group, which finished in 16th position, boosted its portfolio from 37 to 44 hotels in Canada last year, increasing its gross sales from $151.8 million in 2017 to $227.5 million in 2018, following the purchase of Holiday Inn properties in St. John’s and Sarnia, Ont. and the Delta Toronto East hotel. It also completed renovations to its Comfort Inn Dorval Aeroport.