- Choice Hotels International opened the first hotel with its Comfort brand’s refreshed Rise & Shine prototype in Mountain Grove, Missouri, the company announced Monday. The upper midscale new-construction prototype was first announced in 2021.
- The 56-room hotel features a contemporary design and enhanced amenities, including outdoor gathering space. The Rise & Shine prototype was designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s guests, Choice said, with tailored spaces to help them “relax, work, sleep and get ready for their day.”
- The opening of the hotel marks a transformation for Choice’s flagship Comfort brand and signals that the company remains bullish on investing in the midscale and upper midscale segments — two spaces that other hotel companies have recently eyed expansion in as well.
The opening of the first Rise & Shine prototype is two years in the making for the Comfort brand, which makes up 25% of Choice’s more than 7,400 hotels. Choice first announced the brand would undergo a refresh in 2021, marking its 40th birthday.
Choice’s refresh of Comfort is a result of evolved traveler demand and behavior, Cathy Hartman, VP of brand strategy at Choice, told Hotel Dive. She noted that the brand’s target guests include families and business travelers.
“Choice Hotels has listened to its guests and tailored the redesign [of Comfort] to meet their specific desires,” Gabriela Meléndez Olivera, senior manager, public relations at Choice, told Hotel Dive.
She noted that the majority of parents (90%) in a recent Choice Privileges member survey said they have chosen to stay at a Comfort hotel for family vacations with their children in the past, and the same percentage is “eager” to stay again and “create new memories within the hotel’s modernized ambiance.”
Enhanced amenities of the Rise & Shine prototype include “open, airy and inviting public spaces” with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light, and a multipurpose flex room that can convert to serve a variety of uses. Hartman noted this flexible space is particularly of interest to business travelers.
Additionally, the prototype’s guest rooms feature upgraded fixtures and furniture, including “on the go” stations by the door with shelving, clothing hooks and outlets.
“When families are staying in these rooms there are sometimes three or four people in a room and not everyone can be in the bathroom all at once, but everyone needs to get ready. So we designed the ‘on the go’ station outside [the bathroom], so people can be getting ready outside while someone’s in the bathroom and no one feels like they're fighting for that space or time,” Kalika Fortman, Comfort brand strategy and management director, told Hotel Dive.
Beyond guests, the Rise & Shine prototype also accommodates developers’ needs, Hartman said. “We have a very robust pipeline already, which is impressive given the tough development market out there. There is an appetite for this brand because it is known for finding that right balance of meeting guests' needs but also meeting our developer and owner needs.”
With more than 160 hotels in the Comfort pipeline, many of which are Rise & Shine prototypes, the new model has proven desirable to developers for its lower build and operating costs, Hartman added. Other Rise & Shine hotels are set to open in South Dakota and Tennessee by year-end.
Choice has invested “substantial resources” to unveil the Rise & Shine prototype design, making it one of the most extensive brand makeovers in the company’s history, Olivera said, noting the investment is particularly poignant given the “competitive landscape of midscale and upper-midscale hotels.” Hartman added that these segments, in particular, are “gaining traction.”
Earlier this year, Hyatt launched its first upper-midscale hotel brand in the Americas, Hyatt Studios, while Marriott entered the midscale segment in the U.S. and Canada with extended stay brand StudioRes. IHG Hotels & Resorts got in on the action too, launching midscale conversion brand Garner.
The upper midscale segment has dominated the U.S. hotel construction pipeline in both the second and third quarters of this year, according to Lodging Econometrics data. At the start of this month, the upper midscale chain scale had the largest project count of all chain scales, accounting for 38% of the projects in the pipeline.