A banner year for Best Western Hotels

David Kong, president and CEO, BWHR.

David Kong, president and CEO, BWHR.

NATIONAL HARBOUR, Md. — This year has been a banner year for Best Western Hotels & Resorts (BWHR), with the acquisition of WorldHotels in February, major awards, the naming of Best Western Rewards as the top loyalty program for the seventh consecutive year, the acquisition of Autoclerk and the launch of SureStay Studio.

During General Session on Saturday, October 5th at the 2019 Best Western North American Convention and Global Conference, held at the Gaylord Hotel & Conference Center near Washington, D.C., BWHR announced the expansion of the SureStay Hotel Group with the launch of SureStay Studio. Competing in the premium economy extended stay segment, SureStay Studio was created to respond to the needs of both travellers and hotel developers. 

The SureStay Studio prototype.

The SureStay Studio prototype.

SureStay Studio is launching with a prototype for new construction, and conversion opportunities will also be available with minimal investment from developers. Every SureStay Studio hotel will be provided superior systems and support, and will be on-boarded with access to BWHR’s award-winning website, global partnerships and sales team, and state-of-the-art revenue management system. 

Ron Pohl, SVP and chief operations officer at Best Western Hotels & Resorts, told attendees SureStay Studio is intended for both conversion and new construction. Its 32,000-square-foot, 67-room prototype, he said, comes with a construction cost estimate under $60,000 a key in the U.S. Pohl told Hotel Management he estimates the new brand may end up only 25 per cent new construction. The brand is also suitable for conversion and the estimated cost of a typical 60-room property is $300,000 in the U.S., said Pohl.

Ron Pohl, SVP and chief operations officer.

Ron Pohl, SVP and chief operations officer.

Hotels will also have access to a revenue manager to maximize revenue and reduce operating costs. SureStay Studio will benefit from BWHR’s reputation for providing superior guest service and will have access to the award-winning Best Western Rewards program, which contributes nearly 50 per cent of gross room revenue to hotels. There nearly 40 million BWR members globally, with 3,238,166 of those residing in Canada.

While other hotel company leaders tend to come and go, David Kong is celebrating his 15th year as president and CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts. As he hits the anticipated milestone, Kong becomes the longest-running CEO of a top 10 major hotel chain and Best Western finds itself poised for its most exciting year yet.

“David Kong is a visionary in our industry, but perhaps more importantly, he is one of the nicest people I know,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Best Western and the entire lodging industry are lucky to have his leadership. I look forward to many more years working alongside David.”

“I feel very fortunate to have played a role in building Best Western into the brand it is today,” said Kong. “To think about where we started 73 years ago as a single brand and now, to see Best Western positioned as a global powerhouse with hotels in every single chain scale segment – is outstanding.  

“Our journey has been a special one, and a large part of that for me has been the incredible team I am surrounded by on a daily basis, including our exceptional group of hoteliers. Together, we look forward to maintaining the momentum that has been built and enjoying further progress in the months and years ahead.” 

Kelly Dalton, senior director corporate communications and brand marketing, interviews David Kong.

Kelly Dalton, senior director corporate communications and brand marketing, interviews David Kong.

Canadian award winners

Best Western Hotels & Resorts currently have 200 active hotels in Canada, across several brands under the Best Western portfolio, and 33 in the pipeline.

Those Canadian hotels were well-represented at Best Western's awards presentations.

Kelowna Based Prestige Hotels & Resorts CEO Joe Huber Jr., was one of two winners of Developer of the Year. BWHR president David Kong noted that Prestige has six Best Western hotels and submitted three applications this year. 

“His properties are spectacular!” Kong continued. “These are beautiful hotels in wonderful locations. In fact, his hotel in Sooke, British Columbia was among the first Best Western Premier hotels to open in Canada. This property is stunning. With a talented and capable management team, his hotels all enjoy high guest satisfaction ratings and RevPAR. He has been a tremendous partner for our brand, and I am grateful for his ongoing trust and faith in our brand.”

Six Canadian properties received the M.K. Guertin Award, which recognizes the company's top North American hotels that exemplify the best performance across areas such as quality assurance, customer service, guest satisfaction and commitment to the brand. The Canadian winners were: Best Western Plus Meridian Hotel Lloydminster, Alta.; Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites Fort McMurray, Alta.; Best Western Plus Drayton Valley All Suites Drayton Valley, Alta.; Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn Chemainus, B.C.; Best Western Plus Liverpool Hotel & Conference Centre Liverpool, N.S.; and Best Western Plus Bridgewater Hotel & Convention Centre Bridgewater, N.S.

Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites wins the MK Guertin Award. From left: Anthony Klok, Best Western board chairman; Paul Jones, general manager, Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites; Erin McKay, assistant general manager; David Kong, president and CEO, Best Western.

Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites wins the MK Guertin Award. From left: Anthony Klok, Best Western board chairman; Paul Jones, general manager, Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites; Erin McKay, assistant general manager; David Kong, president and CEO, Best Western.

“I am so proud of our team for their hard work and dedication, ensuring that our guests always come first,” said Paul Jones, general manager at Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites, Fort McMurray in a social media comment. “At the recent Best Western Convention in Washington we were awarded with the prestigious M.K. Guertin Award for our hotel’s exceptional level of service, quality, value and commitment to our guests. Three years in a row is an outstanding accomplishment!”

Norman and Lorraine Bevilacqua won two awards at the Best Western conference.

Norman and Lorraine Bevilacqua won two awards at the Best Western conference.

Norman and Lorraine Bevilacqua of the Best Western Plus Dryden Hotel & Conference Centre were winners of the Heroic Hospitality Stars Award, which recognizes the most exceptional employees at Best Western hotels and the people who create positive and memorable experiences for our guests. See related story.

Norman Bevilacqua also received the Chairman Legacy Award, which is given to the individual who best represents Best Western's membership and organizational ideals, regardless of District, years with the brand, or age.

Each year, the company honours Best Western-branded hotels that donated to their charitable arm, Best Western for a Better World, at the Legacy level, making a $25,000 contribution, and hotels that donated at the Champion level, making a $15,000 contribution. Best Western Plus City Centre Inn, Edmonton, won a Legacy award.

Two Canadian hotels won Silver Anniversary Awards, which recognize voting members and/or owners who achieve 25 years of continued service as a voting member and/or owner of one or more Best Western-branded properties. This can include being a direct descendant of an owner or voting member. Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort Tofino, B.C., and Best Western Ville-Marie Montreal Hotel & Suites Montreal, both won this award.