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Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 94

Are You Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago; The Beat Goes On;
Hotel History: Shattuck Plaza; Quote of the Month

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC
October 9, 2012

1.  Are You Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago? 

  • September 12, 2012 - It was a sizzling summer season for the American hotel industry, with hotel rates heating up across the country according to HotelsCombined's year-over-year price index.
Based on average hotel prices throughout June, July and August, the majority of major U.S. destinations saw healthy rate increases in summer 2012 compared to summer 2011, with an average upturn of 17%.  Anaheim snagged the highest price increase, with a 43% rise in the average nightly hotel rate of $109 in 2011 to $155.25 in 2012.  The second-highest upsurge came from North Myrtle Beach, with a 36% rise in the average hotel rate of $143.01 in 2011 to $194.86 in 2012....

"Overall, the upturn data coming out of the U.S. was quite impressive," says HotelsCombined VP of Business Development Yury Glikin.  "It's evident that the tourism sector there is experiencing significant growth and development compared to other international destinations."
  • September 14, 2012 - The U.S. hotel industry is making strides on the road to profitability, although progress varies by market and chain scale, according to new data from STR and STR Analytics' Hotel Operating Statistics, or HOST Study.
"For 2011, the total  U.S. hotel industry saw net income of $33 billion," said Ali Hoyt, business project manager at STR Analytics, during a breakout panel titled "Unlocking the profitability puzzle" during last week's Hotel Data Conference.  STR and STR Analytics are parent and sister companies of, respectively.

Profitability for the Industry in general during the past 10 years has moved consistently among the chain-scale segments.  After a steady return during the years following 9/11, the industry began declining in profitability during 2006, reaching a trough in 2009.

The luxury segment ̶  typically the first in and out of recessions ̶  fell the furthest, decreasing 51% during the downturn, said Caitlyn Milton, business intelligence manager  at STR Analytics.

However, as the industry began climbing toward recovery during 2010, the luxury segment led with a 33% increase in profitability.

The economy segment, meanwhile, saw the strongest translation of revenues into house profit, or profit before deductions for fixed charges and management fees.  The chain scale recorded 42.3% profitability during 2011, following by the midscale segment at 27.1%.

Luxury was the least profitable at 15.7%.  However, the segment posted a 41.5% increase in profitability compared to the prior year ̶  which Hoyt said is because of the segment's total dollar volume.  That is, a small increase in luxury profitability equates to a much larger actual dollar value.

2.  The Beat Goes On

Here are recent announcements of more new hotel brands which are relatively unknown to the traveling public:

  • The Quin formerly the Buckingham Hotel in New York City
  • One UN New York formerly the Millenium UN Plaza Hotel
  • Ovolo Hotels ̶  Hong Kong-based boutique hotel chain
  • Royal Begonia ̶  a Starwood Luxury Collection member on the island of Hainan in southern China
  • Traders Hotel ̶  mid-range member of the Shangri-La brand
  • Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences
  • Avenue Suites by Modus Hotels
  • Mukul Boutique Hotel by Don Carlos Pellas
  • Ahn Luh Hotels by General Hotel Management
  • IKEA Hotels by Inter IKEA
  • Tribeca Blu
  • Buccament Bay Resort by Harlequin Hotels & Resorts
  • Hotel Americano
  • Iberostar Hotels & Resorts
  • JHouse Greenwich
Impertinent question in search of a pertinent answer:  Does the creation of these new brands represent the triumph of public relations over common sense?  Or have the developers funded deeply-researched feasibility and market studies?

3.  Hotel History: Shattuck Plaza, Berkeley, California

Built in 1910 by the family of Francis Kittredge Shattuck, the Shattuck Plaza was considered the grande dame of early 20th century hotels in the area.  Francis Shattuck, who was born in New York City, was attracted to the California gold rush.  Over time, Shattuck acquired 160 acres of prime real estate which encompasses the University of California campus and much of the Berkeley business district.  Shattuck served as the mayor of Oakland, was elected to the California State Assembly, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Berkeley Board of Trustees in 1884.  His political stature enabled him to establish Berkeley's first library and to bring a rail line to the City from Oakland.  The hotel was enlarged in 1914 with a 120-room Annex to accommodate the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

From 1918 to 1942, the hotel was named the Whitecotton Hotel by its owner William Whitecotton.  In 1942, owner Wallace Miller restored the original name, undertook a multi-year extensive modernization project and moved the entrance from Shattuck Avenue to Allston Way.  After several changes in ownership, BPR Properties acquired the Shattuck Plaza and closed it for a year-long renovation and restoration.

The New York Times Hotel Review reported on February 23, 2010:

The Shattuck Plaza knows its neighborhood.  A couple of blocks from the University of California, Berkeley, it greets guests with an oversize peace symbol in black-on-white marble floor tile, and farther inside, the decorating borders on the psychedelic.  But this is psychedelia through a filter of 21st-century cool, played for fun: gleaming multicolored glass pillars, bright-red Murano glass chandeliers, checkerboard floors, multicolored rugs and alternating wallpaper patterns that ought to clash but feel lighthearted and urbane instead.  Turn a corner in a corridor, and you confront a new color palette.  Walk a few steps in the elegant lobby, and mirrors and marble put you in a new space.  A reincarnation of the faded 1910 Hotel Shattuck, the Shattuck Plaza opened last fall after a daring renovation that has caught Berkeley's venturesome spirit.  If a hotel can be outspoken, this one is.

The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

4.  Quote of the Month

In this presidential election year, here's a marvelously appropriate quotation:

In the old days each political party had its own hotel, and it was considered little less than treason for a man to patronize any public place outside his own hotel.  The politician who violated this unwritten law was compelled to go to all sorts of explanations.  Gradually a change has been going on.  The Fifth Avenue Hotel and the Hoffman House are nominally the headquarters of the Republicans and Democrats, but in name only.  There is now no distinctively Republican or Democratic hotel left.  The result has been to improve all hotels.  Each now stands on its own merits.  The day has gone by when a man will put up with poor service, bad food and a cold room for the sake of political sentiment.  The inference is that the stomach is built on a non-partisan basis.

                                                                 The New York World

                                                                 January 1890

Reviews of My New Book:  "Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York"
  • "passionate and informative"
                 The New York Times

It's easy to order the book.  Just visit


Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC

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