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Monday, May 29, 2023

As Businesses Expand, Extended-Stay Formats Boom

By MALIK LEE Contributing Reporter The influx of corporate and regional headquarters to the San Fernando Valley, and particularly the Conejo Valley has spurred a flurry of development of extended stay hotels in the area. The hotels, which arose to cater to the business traveler, who spends a week to thirty days away from home, have also become preferred accommodations for employees relocating to an area and for vendors who may spend several days or more in town while working with a client company. Extended stay hotels are currently under development in Westlake Village, Newbury Park and Agoura Hills, to name a few, and others have recently opened in Woodland Hills and in Simi Valley. “They (extended stay hotels) will meet the needs of the business traveler due to the growth of many companies in the Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village area in need of quality hotel accommodations,” said Jim Flagg, president of Ocean Park Hotels, which is developing TownPlace Suites by Marriott, a 93-room extended stay hotel in Newbury Park. The hotel is set to open next February. Unlike traditional hotels, these extended stay facilities have larger living spaces, sometimes as large as two-bedroom units. They include separate workspace areas and fully equipped kitchens with sinks, refrigerators, microwave ovens and stoves. There are typically laundry facilities on the premises in addition to traditional dry cleaning services and some have convenience stores on the premises and grocery shopping services. There are also small meeting rooms and a full range of business services faxes, copy machines and printing useful for business travelers. Many even allow pets. On average, rates range from about $75 a night to as high as $339 a night for suites at these extended stay hotels. There are discounts, in the range of 20 percent to 30 percent for those who stay seven days or longer, and loyalty programs that reward frequent guests with free stays, mileage credits on airfare and gift certificates. Extended stay hotels have prospered since they first began to emerge about a decade ago, thanks in large part to the growth and expansion in corporate America. There are currently more than 245,000 extended stay hotel rooms across the country, according to Highland Group, a consulting firm in Atlanta, and the category grew at a rate of 4.9 percent last year, surpassing the rate of the hotel industry overall, 4.6 percent, according to Smith Travel Research. “With companies having more and more offices around the world, these they will bring their employees into town for corporate functions as well,” Flagg said. Increased demand With the growth of large corporate headquarters such as those for Countrywide Financial Corp., Amgen and Health Net Inc. all located on the Western end of the greater Valley, the need for these hotels has increased, and some cities have moved to make certain that extended stay hotels are part of their business mix. Agoura Hills has recently issued permits to Dimension Development Co. Inc. to build a 125 unit Homewood Suites in the area. “Our general plan we created ten years ago we identified a need for a hotel, and I think the improving economy recently has caused the Homewood Suites to move forward,” said Mike Kamino, director of planning and community development for Agoura Hills. Dimension Development, which currently operates about 30 hotels in nine states, includes properties under the Hilton, Holiday, Marriott and Starwood brands. In Santa Clarita, Dimension Development operates a Fairfield Inn by Marriott, a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Hampton Inn. In addition to Dimension and Ocean Park Hotels, Huntington Group is building a 160-room Marriott Residence Inn in Westlake Village, and an Extended StayAmerica hotel recently opened in Simi Valley. All the rooms at Residence Inns have high speed Internet along with the standard Marriott packages pool, spa, fitness area, and large breakfast rooms. Phillip Crane the general contractor for a few of the Valley’s new hotels, said, “The rooms will have a higher end finish with granite finish counter tops in the bathroom, in the kitchen. It will be a nice finished package for business travelers.” Since the first Residence Inn was opened in Wichita, Kansas by an independent operator, these lodgings have become the fastest growing segment in the hotel industry, according to industry reports. The sector is now dominated by the major hotel chains. Marriott acquired Residence Inn in 1987 and is now the largest extended stay hotel chain with 460 properties. Many standard stay hotels have even begun to offer discounts to compete. “They (extended stay hotels) have also become more popular with non business travelers as well,” said Kevin Knight, founder and president of Biz-Stay.com, a global extended stay lodging directory established in 2000. “The space you get, also families like having the kitchen so you don’t have to get the kids dressed to take them to the restaurant.”

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