Firm's new name signals changes

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NEW YORK -- You can fuhgettabout the name Manhattan East Suite Hotels.

This city's largest all-suite hotel company scrapped its 40-year-old name in favor of a new moniker -- Affinia Hospitality -- to go along with a multimillion-dollar renovation initiative and a plan to grow beyond New York.

The new name comes on the heels of a $15 million redo of the Affinia Dumont, formerly the Dumont Plaza. The Affinia Dumont will be marketed as an "executive fitness suite hotel" with a fitness concierge, a $1 million spa and fitness center and a 1,000-square-foot "fitness suite" on the 26th floor.

Dan Denihan, a managing director of Affinia Hospitality, said the Affinia Dumont will belong to a new category called the Signature Series, which will be made up of hotels with a particular theme, such as fitness. All hotels will feature the latest technology for business travelers.

Denihan said that as the firm's seven other properties are renovated -- the Plaza Fifty is next in line for a $12 million makeover -- they will be added to the Signature Series and marketed to their particular niche.

The Benjamin hotel, the company's flagship property, will belong to a category unto itself, the Luxury Series. The company purchased the Benjamin, formerly the Beverly, in 1999 and spent nearly $40 million to renovate it.

Meanwhile, Denihan said company officials have been in discussions with developers to expand Affinia beyond New York. He said the company is eyeing Boston, Chicago and Washington for possible conversions of existing hotels or other real estate.

Affinia is spending approximately $1 million on an ad campaign to launch the new name, including full-page ads in USA Today and trade advertising.

The company sent out more than 100,000 e-mails to customers and travel agents informing them of the change; agents in the company's major markets were invited to a series of dinners.

For information or reservations, call (866) AFFINIA or visit www.affinia.com.

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