By Colleen Isherwood, editor
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CALGARY, AB —When MasterBUILT was founded in April 2011 by Superior Lodging Corp. and Jayman MasterBUILT/JWI Investments, their mandate was to develop and open 75 Microtel by Wyndham hotels by 2036.
MasterBUILT COO Eric Watson has a more immediate goal. He has made a wager with Mark Sparrow of CBRE that MasterBUILT will have 22 Microtels by the end of 2016.
So far, they seem to be on track. There are seven Microtels open in Canada—in Blackfalds (Red Deer), AB, Estevan, SK, Lloydminster, SK, Parry Sound, ON, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Timmins, ON and Weyburn, SK, for a total of 536 rooms.
Last month, they broke ground for an 87-room Microtel in Bonnyville, AB. “It’s a good market, and we have land for another hotel that will probably be built in 2016,” Watson told CLN. “It’s a boom town that needs a few more hotels,” he said. The Bonnyville property, plus the existing Microtel in Lloydminster and one planned for next spring in Cold Lake, AB, will provide a hub of properties all in one area, which makes sense from a management viewpoint.
Seven new Microtels are planned for 2015, with an additional 10 construction starts for 2016. “The permitting and planning is taking longer than it used to, but we’re planning for that,” Watson added.
MasterBUILT is focusing on ownership, construction and opportunities in Western Canada, with an eye on management hubs like the aforementioned trio of hotels in the Northeastern Alberta oil patch.
“We are looking for management partners in the East, as we like to have someone more local in the market,” Watson said.
“We are actively developing in Ontario, working with other builders. In Southern and Central Ontario, the economies for any new construction are a bit stressed, but there are pockets of opportunity. We would like to have something in the GTA, but we’re in no rush,” he added.
MasterBUILT is also looking at opportunities in Quebec, starting in secondary and tertiary markets, through a partnership agreement.
“Everyone in Weyburn, SK is excited about the Brown’s Social House beside the Microtel in Weyburn,” Watson said, describing the rapidly-expanding restaurant chain as “a scaled-down version of Cactus Club.” The restaurant should be open by next summer. “We have a mutual interest in working together where we can. We see them as very synergistic with our brands,” Watson said.
In cases where there is no nearby restaurant, MasterBUILT will consider developing one. “We have a strong preference for franchise restaurants —we don’t want to manage them,” Watson said.
Extended stay brand coming
In other news, MasterBUILT plans to launch a new extended stay brand in Canada in 2015. “We see a gap in the market—it would be a mid-market product for secondary and tertiary markets, though we also have our eyes on major markets.
“We have identified five sites for rollout, and plan to develop 10 to 15 over the next three or four years.
“We’re well-financed and deploying our capital well, and 2015 will be our busiest year to date by a long shot,” Watson said.
More details on the brand and MasterBUILT’s vision are coming in early 2015. Stay tuned.
In other news, MasterBUILT launched a new corporate website, www.masterbuilthotels.com, in August.
They are also launching a new site, http://microtelcanada.com this month to tell the story of Microtel in this country. The site includes full motion video tours of Microtel properties.