Choice unveils new Comfort prototype

Choice Hotels International Inc. has unveiled the new Comfort Rise & Shine prototype as its flagship, upper-midscale brand marks its 40th anniversary. The first new-construction hotels with the new prototype are expected to open in 2023.

The new Comfort logo

“Several years ago we began a multi-year, $2.5-billion transformation of the brand,” said Pat Pacious, president/CEO of Choice Hotels. “It started with a pretty bold decision by our company to exit more than 600 properties from the brand that were not up to the increased brand standards, and [we]then turned our focus on growing our new-construction pipeline. Then, along with owners, we focused on upgrading the guestrooms and the public spaces, and we capped it all off with a new logo, as well as new signage. It really underscores our commitment as a company to grow the right brands in the right segments and in the right markets in order to drive the returns for our owners and to drive the revenue intensity particularly of the Comfort Inn brand.”

Pacious pointed out that Choice was expecting to announce the new prototype at last year’s Hunter Conference, “but the unfolding pandemic required us at Choice to really pause on our launch plans as we turned our full focus to helping our current owners and operators really navigate this really challenging travel environment.”

The brand’s hallmarks are designed to balance two things: what’s going on in trends, but also those things that are timeless, according to Pacious, who added, “The design elements that we put into this brand I think have been done in a really smart way to provide flexibility both inside and outside the hotel in order to satisfy the guest and the owner preferences, no matter where the properties are located in multiple types of markets here in the United States, as well as around the world.”

The Comfort pipeline is growing with nearly 300 hotels, about 80% of which are new construction, noted David Pepper, chief development officer, Choice Hotels, who added, “We’re expanding on well-loved Comfort brand hallmarks to meet developer needs including maintaining Comfort’s low cost of building advantage over its competition with competitive costs per key; the ability to select from three design options across the exterior, public space and guestroom, so developers can customize to fit their needs in any given market; improved efficiency in functionality with a building footprint; and access to Choice’s best-in-class technology in innovative resources with this prototype.”

The first new-construction prototype hotels will open in 2023, with many to follow in 2024, according to Pepper.

The Rise & Shine design package comes in three color schemes, which “honor the diverse destinations guests love to experience when they stay at Comfort,” said Kade Wane, Choice’s director of architecture & design.

She continued, “First, the City package, which is bold yet approachable. It offers deep rich wood tones reminiscent of the current design package, as well as an energized color palette. Then you have the Sea package, which is calm and soothing with muted colors and light wood tones. Finally, the Sun package. As its name implies, it is vibrant and cheerful for a relaxed and optimistic feel. For each package, we have selected artwork and accessories, furniture and materials, and have included an option to adapt those elements to ensure a strong sense of place.”

The lobby of the new prototype.

The lobby serves as an open and multifunctional space with high ceilings and indoor-outdoor elements. “Our design team had the foresight before the pandemic to plan a spacious open-floor layout that could provide both public and private spaces for guests,” said Wane. “The furniture selection is light, easy to move and finished in wipeable fabrics for enhanced cleanability.”

New and existing elements of the design combine to maintain connective threads to the best of the current offering, while adapting to meet the changing needs of today’s traveler, according to Choice. Among some of these updates:

  • Outdoor patios anchored by an indoor/outdoor fireplace, designed to give guests a warm welcome and make them feel at home.
  • Open, airy and active public spaces with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural lighting.
  • A multi-purpose flex room that converts to serve a variety of uses.
  • Guestrooms featuring upgraded fixtures and furniture, including semi-open closets and new “on-the-go” stations at the door.
  • Functional lighting throughout the prototype including the front desk welcome wall; public space millwork shelving; up-lighting on the guestroom headboard wall and media panel; and on the prototype exterior.

“As the name ‘Rise & Shine’ suggests, light is integral to the new design, inspired in part by our refreshed brand identity and new signage serving as a beacon for the brand,” said Megan Brumagim, VP, brand management, design and compliance, Choice Hotels. “The prototype combines the features, design and amenities that guests want, with the efficiency, functionality and flexibility that developers expect. It offers spaces that can transform from day to night and serve a broad range of guest stays, whether business or leisure. The new prototype reinforces the brand’s strong value proposition with guests and owners by blending form and function to help optimize the guest experience and developers’ investment.”

The new Comfort Rise & Shine prototype has already received positive reviews from existing Comfort franchisees.

“It’s not every day you can say that you directly influenced a brand’s new product, but the Comfort prototype is a great example of how Choice Hotels’ collaboration with owners and developers ensures a win for everyone,” said Azim Saju, president/CEO, HDG Hotels, and owner of 10 Choice-branded hotels. “I’m always looking for ways to optimize returns from my investments. I know Choice is too. I’m proud to have been a part of an incredible project that will be a game-changer in the market for current and prospective owners as well as our guests.”

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