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By Colleen Isherwood, editor
LAS VEGAS—Bill Hanley,
group president international development for Vantage Hospitality Group, told CLN in an exclusive interview at its recent conference, that the company will focus on development in the Prairie provinces and Atlantic Canada in the coming year. He added that Vantage's Country Hearth brand could be a good fit for Canada.
Much of Vantage's 15th Annual Conference held in Las Vegas Dec. 8-12, dealt with integrating the six brands they purchased earlier this year and sorting them in to “swim lanes” or “segments.”
This past summer, Vantage announced that it
had entered into an agreement to acquire America’s Best Franchising,
Inc.’s hotel brands – America’s Best Inns & Suites, Country Hearth
Inns & Suites, Jameson Inn, Jameson Suites, Signature Inn, and 3
Palms Hotels & Resorts.
Hanley said that the Country Hearth brand has been singled out as appropriate for Canada. Country Hearth is an upper economy/lower midscale brand with an extended stay component.
“We probably won't have the new brands registered for Canada until the second quarter of next year,” Hanley said. “We think Country Hearth has great potential for Canada. We bought [the six brands from America's Best Franchising] because it was a tremendous opportunity. We want to walk smartly and do it right.” Hanley added that there will be some modifications to the existing Country Hearth logo design in Canada and the U.S.
When Vantage's 35 Canadas Best Value Inns and single Lexington Hotel are plotted on a map of Canada, it shows great coverage in British Columbia and Ontario, a very active property in Calgary, and a few CBVIs in the Atlantic provinces.
“We're trying to focus on the rest of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces,” Hanley noted. “We want to hire staff to work those two areas.” Vantage currently has one person overseeing Canadian development—Kash Joshi, who is based in Ontario.
“We see strong potential in Sydney [NS] and Dartmouth [NS], and in major cities along the Trans-Canada Highway in Saskatchewan and the West,” Hanley said.
Hanley said he would conservatively expect eight to 10 properties this coming year, five in the Prairie provinces and another three or four in Atlantic Canada.
He added that Vantage is looking at new incentive programs for developers. In the past, Vantage has used a program giving incentives to existing members to bring new hotels into the Vantage fold.
“Bill's focus is all on Canada,” Vantage CEO Roger Bloss told an all-access Town Hall meeting at the conference. Answering a question asking for more Canadian marketing dollars, he said, “We heard you loud and clear.”