New hotel concept seeks to offer high-end, budget-friendly rooms

Published Wednesday, August 1, 2018
by Molly M. Fleming

The Avid hotel lobby layout started as foam board and was eventually built to scale with real materials in the InterContinental Hotels Group’s Atlanta warehouse.

A model room was built in the same way, with the idea of creating a new concept that is efficient for travelers and owners.

Those concepts’ then-models are now real places, with the first Avid nearly ready to open in Oklahoma City’s northwest sector, 2700 NW 138th St.

From groundbreaking to completed product, it will be less than 200 days.

IHG put the franchise development plan to market in September and now has more than 100 Avid hotels in the pipeline, said Jennifer Gribble, Avid Hotels vice president.

The company hosted a media tour on Tuesday.

Gribble said she couldn’t give an exact pipeline figure because IHG is in a quiet period now, with its second-quarter earnings being released soon.

Oklahoma City-based Champion Hotels CEO Champ Patel also built the first Tru by Hilton in the nation, putting the property off Interstate 40 and S. Meridian Avenue. Hotel analysts have compared Avid to Tru by Hilton, since both products offer a high-end, but budget-friendly room.

Patel said at the December groundbreaking for Avid that he wanted to bring the new IHG concept here so the city could get the publicity.

Champion Hotels’ second Avid is already under construction at S. Meridian Avenue and SW 15th Street, said Jeff Penner with the company.

There are two other properties planned for Oklahoma City. One Avid will be built next to Tower Hotel, off Northwest Expressway, and another will be constructed in Bricktown. Champion is working with developer Fred Mazaheri on the four properties in the city.

Penner said Champion is also planning to build Avids in Tulsa; Olathe, Kansas; and Arlington and San Marcos, Texas, and is eyeing Lubbock, Texas.

Gribble said the goal with the brand is to reach the self-reliant traveler who understands the value of a hard-earned dollar. She said there are about 14 million underserved travelers in this segment, worth about $20 billion in revenue. She said they are the everyday traveler, so they’ll likely be staying only a couple of nights at the maximum.

STR Inc. Senior Vice President Jan Freitag said Avid and Tru think they’ve identified a white space in the midscale area. It’s a segment where a room can be offered for about $100 or less a night and be well-received by the traveling public, but more importantly by the developing community. The Quail Springs rooms will be about $90 a night.

The goal was to design a hotel that can be constructed for about $85,000 to $90,000 a room, Gribble said.

Freitag said the national pipeline includes mostly rooms that range from upscale to economy.

“A majority of rooms being built today are already centered around what we used to call ‘a bed and a bath for a buck and a half,'” he said. “It’s everything you need and everything you don’t.”

Gribble said the four key features at Avid are the good, all-around breakfast, simple booking software, a great night’s sleep, and a guarantee that if everything in the room isn’t up to par, it can be changed.

The lobby’s seating is designed for the front desk person to see around the entire space. Guests are expected to use the lobby for about 10 minutes, Gribble said, and then go to their room or their destination.

There are 87 rooms on the four floors. The king-bed room measures 220 square feet, and the double-queen room measures 275 square feet. There’s enough room to put bags on padded benches. There’s still a desk, but a lounge chair often found in hotel rooms isn’t in the Avid room.

“We’ve found that the guest will be willing to give up some space in order to have high quality in the room,” she said.

The building was constructed with a stagger-studded technique, which helps keep down the sound. There are no drawers in the rooms or closet doors, so people won’t be making slamming noises.

Champion Hotels has added a refrigerator to each room, which is an amenity that developers can use. The pool is a package option that’s available as well, which Champion has also included.

Each room’s bathrooms come with bulk J.R. Watkins-branded products. Gribble said this has resonated with customers, not only for the name itself, but because using bulk products helps eliminate environmental waste.

Penner said all the rooms have vinyl floors, making them easy to clean. The hallways are the only place with carpet. Vinyl helps with durability as well.

Gribble said Avid thinks the product will be able to compete with Tru because Avid’s guests transcend demographics, and Avid focuses on providing a good night’s sleep.

Freitag said it’s a big world, and some developers have brand preferences, just like guests have brand preferences. There are also guests who try to earn points through a certain loyalty program. He said the brand also gives IHG another option as it secures customers for life, from the time its customers are college students to being company executives.

The Quail Springs Avid will open to guests the week of Aug. 13, with a grand opening expected for October.

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