Hotel Online Special Report

 Baymont Inns Suites Transfers Ownership of 5 Michigan Properties to Akram Namou
Forms Innovative Alliance With Michigan Franchise Owner
MILWAUKEE - May 18, 1999--Embarking on the first stage of a new growth strategy, Baymont Inns Suites announces today the transfer of five of its company-owned properties in Michigan to franchise owner Akram Namou.

Baymont, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE:MCS), transferred ownership of the properties in Saginaw, Flint, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek to Namou, who operates more than 25 hotels in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. As part of an overall development plan, company officials said they plan to use the same strategy in other markets to attract franchisees to Baymont Inns  Suites.

"We are using selected assets to seed the market for our new owners," said Dan Daniele, senior vice president of development. "We are able to provide our franchise partners with regionally clustered properties in established markets, and give them the opportunity to develop a significant presence there."

Baymont Inns  Suites is a leading national lodging chain with more than 160 locations nationwide, 63 of which are franchise-owned locations. The company recently introduced a re-branding program including new interior and exterior signs, enhanced amenities and services, and upgrades at many of its properties. Baymont expects to invest $20 million in the program. It is believed to be the largest in the lodging industry without an acquisition or change in ownership.

Namou said the re-branding was a significant part of Baymont's attraction. "I like the fresh look, the name and the service-oriented attitude of the people," he said. "I believe the Baymont concept will be a profitable one."

The re-branding appeals to many potential franchisees. Baymont has confirmed a record number of signed and pending franchise agreements since the company's re-branding last January. Franchise development projects have been approved by Baymont Inns  Suites this quarter in 10 different states including Texas, Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. According to Daniele, many attractive nationwide markets are available to be tapped for a Baymont Inns  Suites location.

"Developers and prospective franchise owners find the Baymont Inns  Suites image appealing, supported by the strong value and consumer draw the brand has to offer. These factors are allowing the company to position the brand as a solid mid-priced lodging product, which is opening tremendous opportunities and potential locations for franchisees," said Greg Hanis, a lodging industry expert and president of Hospitality Marketers International, Inc.

Namou, a 15-year veteran of the lodging industry, will spend up to $1 million upgrading the five Michigan properties. He intends to remodel the exterior of the buildings to match the prototype Baymont design and add even more amenities and services. In addition, he is planning to pursue other opportunities as a Baymont owner.

"This is a long-term commitment. I'm looking forward to further expansion and a stronger alliance with The Marcus Corporation and Baymont Inns  Suites," noted Namou.

In addition to the re-branding, prospective franchise owners say they are attracted to Baymont Inns  Suites because the company offers protected areas of development, opportunities for conversions and a point of difference with the Inns  Suites concept.

"Baymont's franchise division now offers the best combination of benefits in the lodging business today: a great name with a great product; strong consumer appeal; and a parent company with a vested stake, including the ownership and operation of approximately 100 of its own properties," said Daniele.

In fact, Baymont has expanded its franchise support team in recent months to accommodate the additional interest and growth, and to continue a high level of service for franchise owners.

"It's no surprise that Baymont Inns  Suites' franchise growth is accelerating," said Ed Woodside, owner of SW Management Corporation and vice chairman of the Baymont Inns Franchise Advisory Council (BIFAC). "The company offers franchise owners a package that no other lodging company can provide including a superb product, an exciting new name, owner assistance and support, and a true positive partnership with franchisees."

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., The Marcus Corporation is comprised of four divisions: inns and suites, movie theatres, hotels/resorts and restaurants. The company operates or franchises more than 160 Baymont Inns  Suites in 30 states, and a total of six Woodfield Suites in Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado and Ohio; 411 movie screens in Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota, and one family entertainment center in Wisconsin; three hotels and a resort in Wisconsin, one hotel and a resort in California, one hotel in Minnesota and one resort in Michigan; and 27 KFC and 3 KFC/Taco Bell 2-in-1 restaurants in Wisconsin.

Dan DeWeerdt, 414/270-7617
Kate Cunningham, 414/270-7600
Also See: Marcus Debuts Baymont Inns & Suites - The Re-branding and Re-positioning of Budgetel Inns / Jan 1999 
Name Change from Budgetel Inns to Baymont Inns Designed to Improve RevPAR by Expanding the Customer Base and Increasing Franchise Development / Sept 1998 

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