Hotel Online Special Report

Ayres Hotel Group Expands, Rebrands
Will open two 140 - suite hotels in 
Orange County this spring
By Sandi Cain 
Staff Reporter Orange County Business Journal

March 12, 2001 - Costa Mesa hotel developers Ayres Hotel Group will open two 140 - suite hotels in Orange County this spring — the privately held company’s 15th and 16th properties--under a new banner and will consider renaming other hotels in its portfolio later in the year.

The new hotels in Anaheim and Laguna Woods will be called Ayres Hotels instead of the Country Inn & Suites name that has been used for the past four years. Before that, the hotels were known as Countryside Inns.

Don Ayres III, vice president of hotel group operations for the family-owned business, said the move away from the Country Inn name is being undertaken to better reflect the market in which many of its properties operate.

“It’s not an ego-driven decision,” Ayres said of the decision to go with the family name. “We conducted focus groups and other studies first.”

The Country Inn name reflected the European boutique-hotel style of many Ayres’ hotels. But recently the company has added California mission and ranch-style hotels in highly urban areas in which the Country Inn name wasn’t as good a fit.

“The Country Inn name didn’t always match the product,” Ayres said. 
The Ayres Hotel Group, an outgrowth of an almost century-old family development business, hired Laer Pearce & Associates, Laguna Hills, to assist in developing the new brand name and to reposition some of the hotels. Among those that could get a name change are lodgings in Costa Mesa, Orange and Ontario.

The move also marks the company’s first foray into working with a public relations firm to position a product. Ayres said Laer Pearce has helped in the past with focus groups and special projects, which led to the latest contract.

The new OC hotels that will carry the Ayres Hotel name are in high-visibility areas with pent-up demand for hotel rooms. The Laguna Woods hotel sits on 2.5 acres near El Toro Road and Moulton Parkway on land the company acquired from Polygon Development. The four-story hotel includes one meeting room and one conference room for groups of up to 100. It is scheduled to open in May.

The Ayres Hotel in Anaheim, now scheduled to open in May or June, is on East Katella Avenue across from the Arrowhead Pond—the only new hotel in that immediate vicinity. Should Anaheim land the Grizzlies NBA team, the hotel could be a candidate to host visiting NBA teams or officials.

Ayres said the family has talked to officials at the Pond about the hotel. 
The Anaheim Ayres Hotel also has meeting and conference space to accommodate up to 100 people.

Last year, Orange County hotels with 100 to 199 rooms had an average occupancy of 62%--a seven percentage point increase from 1999--and an average room rate of $83.71, according to Los Angeles-based PKF Consulting. All-suite hotels, however, generally command a higher room rate than traditional hotel rooms. Ayres hotels have had an average occupancy of around 75% in the last two years. 

PKF reported that Anaheim ended 2000 with a 60% overall occupancy and $99.80 average daily room rate. South Orange County ended the year at 59% occupancy and an average rate of $103.65.

Sandi Cain is copy editor and a staff reporter covering hospitality,tourism, travel and sports. Cain holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Kent State University in Ohio, where she majored in social studies. A former high school teacher, she has written for niche-market sports publications in the U.S., England and Australia and formerly worked in both the printing and high-tech industries. A Cleveland, Ohio native, Cain hasbeen a resident of Laguna Beach since the late ’70s. She enjoys travel, gardening, reading and spoiling her three cats.


Sandi Cain 
Staff Reporter 
Orange County Business Journal

Also See Indomitable Disney / Bad News Doesn’t Tarnish the Mouse; Slowing Economy Another Matter / Sandi Cain  / Feb 2001 
Orange County Hotels Poised for Meetings Growth; Newcomers Help Bolster Total Space; Disneyland Hotel Still No. 1 / Sandi Cain / Jan 2001 

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