Ramada sets its sights on Eastern Canada

Caryl Porter

Caryl Porter

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Ramada is always looking to grow, especially in Eastern Canada, says Caryl Porter, brand manager for the Wyndham Hotel Group chain, adding that they plan to open three more Canadian Ramadas by year end. She adds that while Ramada's recent Canadian projects have been new builds, “in the future, we see lots of conversion opportunities.”

Ramada has 76 properties in Canada, largely concentrated in the three westernmost provinces.  The latest new construction is in Grasslands, just south of Regina airport.

Porter, who has been with Ramada for 20 years, says it is a truly global brand, with the largest global presence among Wyndham Hotel Group's chains. “We are in 62 countries including Thailand, Mexico and India, and global awareness is high because of the support, services and loyalty program,” she says. “Ramada also offers versatility.” The Ramada Plaza is at the upper end of the midscale segment, while Ramada is midscale.

Ramada actually has three tiers, Ramada Limited, Ramada Hotel and Ramada Plaza. The Ramada Limited tier was originally designed as a competitor to Holiday Inn Express and at its peak there were 350 of them in the system. The three tiers confused the customer, and in 2004, Ramada made the decision to stop selling that tier. Now there are only 45 Ramada Limiteds, with 11 in Canada. 

Ramada is working with some of the owners to add a Ramada Mart grab-and-go, or breakfast, so they can fit the Ramada Hotel tier. For example, the Sherwood Park Ramada in the Edmonton area now offers breakfast and a Ramada Mart, changing from a Ramada Limited to a Ramada Hotel.  

Ramada Limiteds that compete in the economy segment, might convert to other Wyndham brands such as Travelodge or Knights Inn. “We want to find the right brand to compete,” says Porter.

Ramada Hotels are generally located in secondary or tertiary markets, average about 100 rooms in Canada, and are flexible regarding foodservice, requiring a minimum of a mini-mart.

Ramada Plazas are larger full-service hotels in city centres or near airports in major markets, and average 175 rooms.

Ramada rolled out design guides a couple of years ago, and they have now been made available throughout the world. The design consists of neutral colours, dark wood and a pop of red. “We own red,” Porter notes. “People in China and India love red. Even if owners don't take our exact designs to a T, they can find something that has that pop of red — a pillow or planters in the lobby. The traction [for the design] has been amazing.”