• Wyndham plans UK fightback

Wyndham, which has seen its presence in the UK market shrink during the last year, has signed up a new UK partner to help drive growth of its Ramada brand.

Management company Lester Hotels has become the company’s preferred management partner under a deal that will see the pair work together to grow Ramada in the UK market. A target has been set to open 20 new hotels under the brand, over the next decade.

The pair have immediately agreed the conversion of two hotels, in Monmouthshire and Leicester. A third in Finchley, north London is planned to open under the agreement next year, while an existing arrangement at the Ramada Hatfield has been renewed with a 20 year extension.

The two additions will take the Ramada portfolio in the UK to 40; though they are not large additions. The Ramada Resort Cwrt Bleddyn in Usk, near Monmouth has just 45 rooms, though it also offers a fitness suite and function rooms for up to 200. And the Leicester property has 79 rooms.

Separate from the agreement with Lester, Wyndham has also taken over management of the Ramada Encore Leicester and open in Oxford, while additional sites in Wakefield and Hounslow are opening imminently.

“We look forward to working with Lester Hotels Group Limited to aggressively accelerate the growth of the iconic Ramada brand in the UK,” said Nima Davoodzadeh, vice president of development, UK and Europe for Wyndham Hotel Group.

“We are delighted to extend our association with Wyndham and become a preferred management partner and have already developed an excellent working relationship with their UK team,” said Simon Lester, chief executive of Lester Hotels Management Services Limited.  “The diversity and appeal of the Ramada brand in the UK perfectly complements both our own portfolio and a number of current opportunities and we look forward to opening more Wyndham Hotel Group branded properties in the UK over the next few years.”

Lester has been operating for 15 years, offering a variety of consultancy and management services in the sector, including handling business turnarounds and management for administrators. It currently lists six hotels under its management.

The last year has seen Ramada lose a significant number of properties. Five Ramada Encores were converted to new budget brand Penta, five Ramadas were reflagged under Choice brands, one each went to DoubleTree and Holiday Inn, and a further five to smaller operators.

 

HA Perspective [by Chris Bown]: Will Ramada gain traction this time around? After a torrid year in which peers and newcomers to the market successfully pitched their brands to Wyndham’s landlords and won conversions, the hope is that Lester can help the group pick up the pace in the UK market.

The problem is, right now that figure of 40 Ramadas is split three ways. Just over half are under the main Ramada banner, a further tranche are under the more budget-oriented Ramada Encore, and a trio trade under a second sub-brand, Ramada Plaza.

Making a commitment to add another 20 hotels over a decade amounts to just two a year. That’s not going to move the needle sufficiently, and will just about replace the losses of the last 12 months. To generate a brand presence for Ramada that really resonates with customers, Ramada must be in need of a major portfolio deal.

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