New Ascend Collection Marketing Message Puts Focus on Guests

Upscale Portfolio Signs 13 New Members

LAS VEGAS, May 17, 2012 // PRNewswire // -- The Ascend Collection membership program from Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH) unveiled a bright new look today at the company's annual conference in Las Vegas.

"Let the destination reach you," the tagline invites. The new message: "Ascend Collection is all about going native when you travel." Images have energy, creating a sense of place and immersing the guest in all that the destination has to offer.

The new creative, from the website to property collateral, highlights a key differentiator for this upscale portfolio of independent hotels: Each property is one-of-a-kind, a reflection of the local culture, enabling guests to experience the true flavor of the destination. Consumers will see the new messaging and creative identity immediately on the Ascend collection.com landing page. Additional elements, including directories, brochures, website and local marketing templates, will roll out later this year.

"We've learned a lot about our guests in the four years since we launched Ascend Collection," explained Michael Murphy, the company's senior vice president of upscale brands. "We know they are savvy travelers who prefer to avoid the tourist traps and cookie-cutter hotels. They want to become part of the essential fabric of their destination."

"The new creative emphasizes our mission: Ascend Collection hotels are a direct connection to the local culture," Murphy continued. "From cuisine and nightlife to scenic views and outdoor adventures, our distribution channels deliver guests from around the world who want to enjoy the destination like the locals do."

Ascend Collection has been a true success story, according to Murphy. Launched in late 2008, the network today has 71 hotels open in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Scandinavia and the Caribbean. It boasts a total contribution rate from Choice Hotels of more than 58 percent, the highest among the Choice family of brands.

To build on the momentum, Ascend Collection launched its branding initiative designed to increase awareness and continue to drive business to franchise owners. The new messaging and creative follow six months of research with guests and franchise owners to gain new insights on the guest's mindset when taking a trip.

Thirteen New Members

Soon, there will be many more opportunities to "let the destination reach you." Ascend Collection has a robust pipeline, company executives reported today. Ascend Collection is committed to bringing online a minimum of 13 hotels in 2012 from agreements that are currently signed. These properties are slated to open in domestic and Caribbean locations this year and next to bring the portfolio's total number of hotels in operation to 84.

"With their central locations and rich histories, these lodgings are outstanding additions to our fast-growing network," said Stacy Ragland, vice president of operations for Ascend Collection. "Like all our properties, the new members will maintain their own look and identity but with the added benefit of letting guests use and earn Choice Privileges rewards points for their stay." The new Ascend Collection hotels are:

  • Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas – Located between the new Mob Museum and the legendary casinos and free entertainment of the Fremont Street Experience, the Downtown Grand will feature a unique industrial chic design. When it opens in 2014 following a multi-million-dollar makeover, the property will be true to its name, with luxurious interiors, including 631 renovated rooms, game tables and hundreds of slot machines.
  • Blue Horizon Hotel, Philadelphia – This reborn, 140-room hotel will be housed in the former Blue Horizon Gym, a luminary for decades in the boxing world. Featured on ESPN 2, Showtime, CNN, Discovery, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and more, the Blue Horizon delivered a championship lineup. This building first housed Gilded Age aristocrats after the Civil War. Following a full-scale renovation, it will reopen as an Ascend Collection boutique hotel.
  • enVision Hotel, Boston – Fenway Park, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Symphony and Freedom Trail are all less than five miles from this city-central boutique hotel. For more things to do, guests can walk to the subway to whisk them away to Boston's other cultural and historical attractions. When it opens in August, enVision will house a coffee shop, fitness center and 39 plush guestrooms.
  • Atlantique View Resort and Spa, Dominica – Perched on a hilltop amidst banana trees and lush coconut groves, Ascend Collection's first all-inclusive resort will have 40 guestrooms, each with a sweeping ocean view. The property will boast private balconies, a rooftop bar, a restaurant, three infinity pools and a spa. Guests will soak up the island culture, with the beach just two minutes away and snorkeling, diving and nature trails also nearby.
  • Federal Pointe Inn, Gettysburg, Penn. – Changing history into hospitality, the turn-of-the-century Meade Schoolhouse named for the Union general will be transformed into a 19-suite boutique hotel in the heart of the downtown historic district steps away from Gettysburg National Military Park. This elegant hotel is set to open later this year in time to welcome the thousands of visitors expected next year to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg's 150th anniversary.
  • Penn Stroud Hotel, Stroudsburg, Penn. – Nestled in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Penn., this historic downtown hotel puts guests close to shops, museums, galleries and historic sites. The 90-room lodging will be minutes away from the region's year-round outdoor activities: skiing, hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, golfing, boating and leaf peeping.
  • Historic Wytheville Hotel, Wytheville, Va. – Surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, this historic 30-room hotel will be near wineries, festivals, state parks, lakes, golf, restaurants, shops and historic sites.

Among the other hotels that have signed agreements with Ascend Collection are: The Blake, New Orleans; Hotel Collins, Covington, Va.; Parkside Lodge, Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Inn at the Square, Minot, N.D.; Fuel Inn and Spa, Midland, Texas; and Voyager Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska.

About Ascend Collection

The Ascend Collection membership program made its debut in late 2008 and now has hotels open and under development throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Scandinavia and the Caribbean. The network appeals to the growing number of travelers who like to discover upscale hotels with local flair when traveling for business or leisure. Member hotels include The GEM Hotels with three boutique hotels in New York City; Greenlinks Resort, situated on two championship golf courses in Naples, Fla.; Zona Hotel and Suites Scottsdale in Ariz; Grand Hotel Costa Rica, San Jose; and Hotel Royal William in the chic New St. Rock district of downtown Quebec City. For more information on this collection of Historic, Boutique and Unique and hotels, visit www.ascendcollection.com.

About Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels International, Inc. franchises more than 6,100 hotels, representing more than 495,000 rooms, in the United States and more than 30 other countries and territories. As of March 31, 2012, more than 350 hotels were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development in the United States, representing more than 30,000 rooms, and approximately 80 hotels, representing approximately 7,000 rooms, were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development in approximately 20 other countries and territories. The company's Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands serve guests worldwide. In addition, via its Ascend Collection membership program, travelers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean have upscale lodging options at historic, boutique and unique hotels.

Additional corporate information may be found on the Choice Hotels International, Inc. website, which may be accessed at www.choicehotels.com.

Choice Hotels, Choice Hotels International, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn and Ascend Collectionare proprietary trademarks and service marks of Choice Hotels International.

© 2012 Choice Hotels International, Inc. All rights reserved.

SOURCE Choice Hotels International, Inc.

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