The Wyndham Hotel Group does not lack for size. The New Jersey-based unit of Wyndham Worldwide manages 12 hotel brands in 65 countries. There are a staggering 7,100 hotels in the group's portfolio; between them, they account for just over 593,000 rooms. That's a lot of heads in beds.
That's why it came as some surprise to this hotel industry observer that Wyndham made a big deal of partnering with San Francisco's renovated, highrise Parc 55 hotel, a formerly independent property just a block off the city's famed cable car line and two blocks from the shopping nexus of Union Square.
The 1,000-room Parc 55, which opened in 1984 and just spent $30 million modernizing and redesigning its interior, threw itself a party yesterday to mark the raising of the Wyndham flag. There was a hot Latin band, cool cocktails and heaps of good food to celebrate the occasion, and Wyndham's president and chief executive officer Eric A. Danziger was on hand for it all.
Given its global reach, doesn't Wyndham have enough rooms? I asked Danziger.
Not in San Francisco, he replied. The Wyndham brand has been absent from the city by the bay, and the company wanted to rectify that. "This is a vibrant and important city, and the Parc 55 has a great location,'' Danziger told me. "It's a great fit. We see opportunities especially for group business and transient business.''
Danziger's ebullence was matched by enthusiasm from the Parc 55's manging director, Rob Gauthier, who told me in a separate interview about the renovation and showed me around the hotel. (More on this shortly in another post.) Of Wyndham, he said the group's global reservation system should help immensely with bookings, while the Wyndham Rewards program - which allows for room upgrades and other perks - is bound to prove a plus with Parc 55 loyalists, who didn't have access to such a big program until now.
And make no mistake, Wyndham is not only big but getting bigger by the second.
Last week, Wyndham Hotel Group bought the Tryp hotel brand from Spain's Sol Melia, and now has plans to expand that brand globally. As mentioned, Wyndham already has 12 brands. Among them are Days Inn, Ramada, Howard Johnson and Travelodge. The Wyndham brand itself is the most upscale of the lot. In this it fits well with what has now been renamed the (deep breath) Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco-Union Square Hotel. The Parc 55 is a 4-star property.
"We're expanding very fast internationally,'' said Danziger, a former CEO at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, who took the top job at Wyndham in late 2008. "We have opened 12 higher-end Ramadas in Japan. In China, there are 11 Wyndhams. There are a number of elaborate '6-star' hotels in China now. We saw an opportunity in the mid-market in China, where we are opening our Super 8 brand hotels.''
How about the Middle East, I wondered. There, too, Danziger said.
"We have 14 Ramadas in the Middle East, including Dubai, and we have positioned them at the high end.''
It's all part of global growth for Wyndham, which continues to push forward, even in the teeth of a stubborn global recession - which has, of course, hit some places far harder than others.
"Forty percent of our pipeline right now is international,'' Danziger said.