Marriott brand opens 50th hotel

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WASHINGTON -- Marriott International took the wraps off its 50th SpringHill Suites by Marriott property in Gaithersburg, Md., last month.

The SpringHill Suites brand, launched in late 1998, has developed mostly in the eastern and southern U.S.

Markets with particularly heavy distribution include Atlanta; Orlando; Austin, Texas, and Washington, as well as Phoenix in the Southwest.

J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott, was on hand for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

He said the firm planned to add 60 SpringHill Suites properties over the next two years.

Marriott manages the Gaithersburg SpringHill Suites, which is only a few miles from the firm's headquarters in Bethesda.

Marriott considers SpringHill to be a midscale, all-suite product for transient travelers, i.e. not extended-stay.

The brand developed out of Marriott's economy category Fairfield Inn chain.

The Fairfield portfolio included a number of Fairfield Suites properties, and the company decided these hotels didn't fit with the Fairfield concept.

Hence, Marriott converted the Fairfield Suites hotels into another brand, and SpringHill Suites was born.

SpringHill has a selection of standard amenities. They include free local calls, complimentary breakfast, pool and exercise room, daily newspapers and business services.

SpringHill's customer base is evenly split between leisure travelers and business travelers.

The Gaithersburg property is one of the first newly constructed SpringHills, as most of the portfolio consists of converted hotels.

While the hotel is the 50th in the SpringHill chain, it is the 59th Marriott property in the metropolitan Washington area. The company said it had plans to add another 23 hotels in the area in the next couple of years.

Craig Lambert, vice president of select service brands for Marriott, said SpringHill had the potential to be a brand with more than 300 hotels because it appeals to travelers of all kinds.

Dave Mendis, vice president of lodging development and national sales at Marriott, said SpringHill properties were slated for downtown locations in Chicago, Seattle and New Orleans.

Mendis said Marriott saw SpringHill as an urban product so it is more likely to appear in cities and not in secondary and tertiary markets.

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