Sonesta’s massive acquisition spree includes Marriott on Holmes
By Kady Weddle
Courtyard by Marriott, located on 105th Street and Holmes Road, has been rebranded as a Sonesta Select.
“A what?” You ask.
The little-known hotel group, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, has been on a massive acquisition spree through the pandemic. Starting 2020 with only 58 hotels under three brands, Sonesta is now one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. with over 1,200 locations worldwide.
“Honestly, I had never heard of Sonesta hotels,” explains Christina Smith, former 20-year Sales Executive for the Holmes Road Marriott location and new Director of Sales for Sonesta Select. “We just completed the transition on February 9th, so everything is still really fresh.”
In October of 2020 it was announced that the Marriott brand would be losing a total of 122 hotels to real estate investment trust Service Properties Trust as a result of missed payments. Acquisition of 98 hotels would go to Sonesta, and by the end of 2020 the company would comprise more than 300 properties in 8 countries.
Kansas City also welcomed former MCI Airport’s Courtyard by Marriot on Tiffany Springs Parkway, rebranded as a Sonesta Select.
“It’s really a learning curve still,” said Smith. “It’s a brand-new venture with basically a brand-new company to the market but I’m really excited to be a part of it and help it grow.”
Online reservations took an immediate rapid decline just after the announced changeover however, Smith disclosed that guests are returning once they realize that staff and accommodations are very much the same.
“Once you explain to people that – other than the signage on the outside of the hotel, everything is still the same – they’re immediately put at ease,” said Smith. “My entire staff transitioned over to the rebranded Sonesta name, so we have a very tenured staff.”
Guests with existing reservations prior to the rebrand were given the choice to rebook with another Marriot in the area or to stay and keep their booking. According to Smith, nearly 99% of them chose to stay with Sonesta.
March 2021 saw the most lucrative acquisition yet as Sonesta announced the completion of their $90 million purchase of Red Lion Hotels’ parent company, RLH Corporation. The deal added more than 900 franchised locations to the company’s existing global footprint and shortly after Sonesta released plans to launch a global hotel franchise organization.
“The closing of the Red Lion transaction is transformative for Sonesta,” said Carlos Flores, president and CEO. “It establishes Sonesta as one of the largest hotel companies in the world, and as an owner, manager and franchisor of hotels.”
These markets include a handful of hotels and resort brands in addition to ‘country inns’ designed to immerse travelers in rich culture and a cruise collection comprised of a fleet of luxury ships.
And there will be more news from Sonesta in the future, Flores said. “We’re not done by a long shot.”
“Give us six months and you’ll recognize the name. And one year from now, everyone will definitely know what Sonesta is,” said Smith.