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Best to go it alone

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  • | 7:45 p.m. January 14, 2016
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Hotel flags and established names, for real estate developers, are often the easiest and fastest way to get a solid return, given the built-in brand.

But Best Western isn't feeling the love.

Sarasota-based Charter One Hotels & Resorts, which opearates more than a dozen properties in Florida, New York, North Carolina and Ohio, is the latest to drop the Best Western flag. The move comes a few months after Chicago-based investment firm Oxford Capital Group dropped the Best Western name from a hotel it bought in Rocky Point in Tampa for $34.5 million. Oxford renamed the property the Bay Harbor Hotel, the same name it donned when it originally opened in 1974.

Charter One cut out Best Western on a property it manages on U.S. 41 just south of downtown Sarasota, near some of the busiest intersections in town. The hotel is now called The Inn at Midtown, and is in the final stages of an $800,000 renovation project.

“I'm excited to get our new name out there without Best Western,” Charter One Hotels & Resorts executive Dawn Milhous tells Coffee Talk. “The name didn't encompass what we are now.”

The Inn at Midtown is now a rebranded property, says Milhous, which caters to seasonal travelers, particularly British and German tourists. Renovations include LED exterior lighting; new fencing for added privacy; a resurfaced resort-style pool; and a repaved parking lot. Rooms have been updated as well, and each room now has high-speed Wi-Fi access, a microwave and a mini-fridge.

The renovations, scheduled for completion this year, have coincided with a rise in business at the hotel, says Milhous, director of revenue management at Charter One. She says occupancy was up 28% in 2014 over 2013 and rose 36% last year. Adds Milhous: “We are looking to do even better in 2016.”


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