[photopress:wuxi.jpg,full,alignright]Take a simple announcement: Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Group, the biggest hotel franchise operator and travel service supplier in the world, has launched Ramada Encore Wuxi Hotel, its first flagship hotel in China. (Note that this is sometimes called the Ramada/New Marriott elsewhere on the Internet which is very confusing. To pin it down it is at 8 Beida Street in the Beitang district.)
Dig into it a little.
We find on Hotel Rates.com that indeed it exists and has good things as in rooms at $50 a night. The hotel is 10 minute walk from railway station, free broadband access in guest rooms. all in house guests can use gym free, LCD color TV set in each room and so on. Trip Advisor suggests the beds are a little hard for its taste but everything had been fine for the past month.
So this is not a news story although it has been published elsewhere as such. Where it is fascinating is in the naming history which, frankly, has me confused.
Wyndham was started in Dallas by Trammell Crow, a prominent national real estate investor and developer. As the company grew, it eventually merged with a fast-growing hotel REIT called Patriot American Hospitality (PAH). Patriot American organized the combined company as a paired-share REIT, in which Patriot owned the real estate assets and leased the hotels to Wyndham to run.
Through the late 1990s, the firm grew rapidly acquiring multiple portfolios of hotels and re-branding them as Wyndhams. In 1998, in an effort to build an upscale limited service brand, the company acquired the Summerfield Hotel Corporation and rebranded it as Summerfield Suites by Wyndham. The company also included several European properties including The Great Eastern Hotel in the City of London.
Sadly, the company’s rapid growth drained cash and the firm was unable to continue to grow on its own. Or, alternative vulgar story, it was about to go down the gurgler.
In March, 1999, the group agreed to a $1 Billion restructuring when a consortium of private equity firms including Thomas H. Lee Partners, and Apollo Real Estate Advisors, assumed control of the company. They renamed it Wyndham International which is fairly easy to handle.
Through 1999 to 2004, the firm struggled to bring down debt and was forced to sell off many of the hotels it had acquired in the late 1990s often selling for a serious discount. Many of its satellites changed name and went elsewhere.
In June, 2005, Wyndham International was acquired by the Blackstone Group, for $3.24 billion and was taken private. The big hotels were sold off, most of what was left was rebranded and the Wyndham and Wyndham Garden Inn brands were sold to Cendant.
Follow closely here for it gets tricky.
What is left are core properties and they were all called Cedant. But on August 1, 2006, all Cendant hotel brands were renamed Wyndham Worldwide. Then Cedant sold Wyndham on July 31 and applied to change it name to Avis Budget Group. (Are you following all of this. There will be questions in the term paper.) Out of this internal sale Wyndham Worldwide got about $760 million.
Now Wyndham Worldwide probably has AmeriHost Inn, Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Howard Johnson’s, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wyndham, and Wingate Inn.
Does that make Wyndham Worldwide the biggest hotel franchise operator and travel service supplier in the world?
There are at least three claimants for the title and if you juggle the definition a bit you can make a claim for any of them. They are all very big.
But Wyndham, as it is today, has little to do with Wyndham as it started. It is a wise child that knows its own mother.