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Ascend Collection Launches New Marketing Message and Continues
Growth with the Signing of 13 New Portfolio Members

Las Vegas (May 18, 2012) – 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 Ascendcollection.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 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 an 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 Collection are proprietary trademarks and service marks of Choice Hotels International.

Contact:

Sharlet Brennan
MMGY Global Public Relations
407-838-1707
sbrennan@mmgyglobal.com

Lorin Konchak
MMGY Global Public Relations
407-838-1841
lkonchak@mmgyglobal.com

 

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Also See: Ascend Collection Creates Dedicated Membership Development Team with Industry Veterans Bill Balletto, Joe Dreiske, Dennis Wynn and Jose Salvador Icaza; Poised for Record Growth in 2012 / April 2012

Cadillac Jack's Gaming Resort in Deadwood, South Dakota Joins the Ascend Collection from Choice; The 103-room Property is Operated by ISIS Hospitality / March 2012

Ascend Collection from Choice Debuts in Central America while Continuing North American Expansion with Two New Canadian Properties; The Gran Hotel in Costa Rica, the St-Christophe Hotel & Spa in Quebec and the Hidden Valley Resort in Ontario Join the Portfolio / February 2012

Choice Hotels Opens 5,000th Domestic Franchised Property with the Opening of the Comfort Suites in Katy, Texas / February 2012

Choice Hotels International Appoints Barbara T. Alexander to its Board of Directors / February 2012

Choice Hotels Names Simone Wu as Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary / February 2012

Choice Hotels Promotes Sarah Searls to Vice President of Business and Analytic Services / February 2012

Choice Hotels Launches Plan to Redefine and Redesign its Comfort Brand Family / January 2012

Choices Hotels Appoints John Tague to its Board of Directors / January 2012

Membership with Ascend Collection from Choice Up by Nearly 35% over 2010 / December 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Adds The Wesport Inn in Connecticut and the GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort in Naples, Florida / November 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Adds Three New Properties in October 2011 in California, Michigan and Pennsylvania / October 2011

The 431-room Xona Resort Suites in North Scottsdale, Arizona Becomes Zona Hotel & Suites Scottsdale as Part of Multi-Million Dollar Renovation and Reflagging; With Membership in Choice Hotel's Ascend Collection, the Property is Owned by Sunstone US Hotel and Operated by O'Neill Hotels & Resorts / October 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels Debuts in Washington, D.C. Market with the 261-suite Virginian Suites Arlington Owned by Virginian Associates, LLC and Operated by Modus Hotels, LLC / September 2011

Choice Hotels International and Foulger-Pratt Companies Break Ground for New Choice Hotels Corporate Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland / August 2011

Choice Hotels International Opens 28 New Hotels in July 2011 / August 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels Debuts in Arizona with the 431-room Xona Resort Suites in North Scottsdale Owned by Sunstone US Hotel and Operated by O'Neill Hotels & Resorts / July 2011

Choice Hotels Executes Lease for New Corporate Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland / July 2011

Choice Hotels International Opens 27 New Hotels in June 2011 / July 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels Debuts in New Hampshire with the 40-room Lane Hotel in Keene Operated by Colwen Management / June 2011

99-key Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel in Ogden, Utah, Joins Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels / March 2011

New Owner of XONA Resort Suites in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sunstone Realty Advisors, Chooses Tower Rock Hotels and Resorts to Manage Property / February 2011

Ascend Collection by Choice Hotels Continues Growth with Addition of Eleven Properties in Final Months of 2010 Bringing Total to 70 Open or Under Development / February 2011

Three Canadian Properties Join Choice Hotels Ascend Collection; The Château Moncton and Château Saint John, New Brunswick, and Hotel Royal William, Québec / January 2011

Choice Hotels International Opens 33 Hotels in November in 14 States and Seven Countries Adding More than 2,500 rooms / December 2010

Choice Hotels International Opens 24 New Hotels in October Adding More than 1,600 rooms / November 2010

Choice Hotels Offers Significant Incentives for Hotel Owners Interested in Converting an Existing Hotel to the Quality, Clarion or Econo Lodge Brand; Incentives Include Discounted Application Fees, No Royalty Fees and Cash Back Upon Opening / August 2010

To Stimulate Brand Growth Econo Lodge Offering Up to $25,000 in Incentives for Conversion Properties / Aug 2003

Choice Offers Development Incentive for Conversions to Quality Brand; Up to $85,000 in Savings for Conversion Properties / Aug 2002
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