Ramada, Wingate and Hawthorn to expand in Canada

TORONTO — Wyndham Hotel Group is all set for Canadian expansion of three of its brands after signing master franchise agreements with Canalta Tuesday and Phi Hotel Group last week.

From left: Chip Ohlsson, Cam Christianson and Joe Daly signing the agreement.

From left: Chip Ohlsson, Cam Christianson and Joe Daly signing the agreement.

TORONTO — Wyndham Hotel Group is all set for Canadian expansion of three of its brands after signing master franchise agreements with Canalta Tuesday and Phi Hotel Group last week.

Cam Christianson, president and CEO of Canalta Hotels, was all smiles at the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference as he inked a deal to become master franchisor for the Ramada brand in Eastern Canada. The choice of Canalta to expand Ramada's presence makes sense, since the Drumheller, Alta.-based company already has 39 Ramadas in Western Canada.

“Canalta has been such a great partner in the West,” said Chip Ohlsson, chief development officer, Wyndham Hotel Group. “The company is growing at a tremendous pace, and now we're expanding the relationship with Eastern Canada. They plan to do 20 Ramadas in 15 years.”

“The Ramadas will be both new construction and conversions in higher RevPAR marketplaces,” said Joe Daly, regional vice president franchise sales and development for Wyndham Worldwide. “Having a strategic partner like Canalta has been a great asset for Western Canada.”

Christianson, whose sons Brooke and Blair are also involved in the company, said they signed their first agreement with Wyndham for Ramada on Aug. 2, 2004 for a new build in Grande Prairie, Alta. “We just had the rights for Alberta at that time, but on Jan. 3, 2006, we got the rights for Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.”

“We will be working with Peter Lee [senior director, franchise sales and development, Wyndham Hotel Group],” Christianson noted. They have also hired Constantin Nassif, who is based in Montreal and will be responsible for asset management and development. “We have all our bases covered and have set up infrastructure for the East.”

Wingate and Hawthorn Suites

Sukhi Rai, PHI Hotel Group.

Sukhi Rai, PHI Hotel Group.

Last week, Wyndham announced that it had signed a Master Franchise agreement with Sukhi Rai of PHI Hotel Group to be master franchisor for Wingate by Wyndham and Hawthorn Suites in Canada.

Since 2002, Surrey, B.C.-based PHI Hotel Group has specialized in the ownership, management and development of hotels and related commercial real estate. They have also worked with many affiliates who own and operate hotels in British Columbia and Alberta. 

The company offers hotel management operations, fiscal and accounting services, new hotel development, hotel sales and marketing, advertising, feasibility studies, asset management, and consulting — the full spectrum from the initial design of the project to the property’s opening and subsequent management, the company's website says.

“Because PHI is a construction company, they have been building two or three hotels per year,” said Ohlsson. “We're so very excited to have someone that aggressive with connections and sites all across Canada.”

There are currently six Wingates in Canada: Calgary Airport, Edmonton Airport, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Airdrie, Alta., which just opened. A Kamloops Wingate is currently under construction, and one in Dieppe, just outside of Moncton, N.B., just broke ground. Wyndham expects to announce two more sites in the next 90 to 120 days.

The goal is to have PHI open 25 Wingates in 25 years. Wingate is a mid-market, mostly new construction brand, that plays in the same competitive set its Hampton, Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn. They work best in urban or airport locations in primary or secondary tier markets. Designed for both business and families, waterparks are a possibility in the right locations.

The goal for Hawthorn Suites, a midscale extended stay brand that is a mix of new construction and conversion, is 15 hotels in as many years. Locations include business parks, corporate parks, and areas near family resorts for longer-term leisure travellers. The comp set includes Homewood Suites, Residence Inn, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, in the extended stay sector which Ohlsson says is still underserviced in Canada.

Canada's first Hawthorn Suites hotels will be near Calgary Airport and in Thunder Bay, Ont. Wyndham is now considering dual branded Wingate/Hawthorn hotels.

“We've got 511 hotels in Canada, and 40 Canadian projects for all of Wyndham,” said Ohlsson.