Choice adds 22 hotels in Japan to its Comfort brand

Image © Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels has substantially added to its branded hotel portfolio in Japan, after master franchisee Choice Hotels Japan agreed a deal to reflag 22 hotels to its Comfort name.

US based Choice Hotels has added 22 hotels to its international portfolio in Japan. The properties, belonging to Hoshino Resorts REIT, will all trade in future under Choice’s Comfort brand.

The additions take Choice’s Japanese portfolio at a stroke up to 96 hotels across Japan. The hotels transferring to Comfort have previously traded under the Chisun brand, and are largely roadside properties.

Working with a master franchise

For building the Japanese market presence of the Choice International portfolio, Choice Hotels Japan has a master franchise agreement in place that has seen it work with the US parent in an exclusive partnership since 2003. The partners signed a 10 year extension of the deal in 2019, indicating their mutual satisfaction with progress to date.

“As master franchisor, seeing bold deals like this come to fruition gives us further confidence we’ve selected the right business partner to help drive growth in Japan. We couldn’t be prouder and we’re in full support of the Choice Hotels Japan team’s approach to seizing opportunities for expansion,” said Choice Hotels Asia-Pacific’s CEO Trent Fraser.

For Hoshino, the decision to partner with Choice and the Comfort Inn brand was a deliberate one, based on the market position of the Chisun branded properties. All 22 of the hotels will be managed by third party operator Greens Co.

Hoshino is a long established hospitality business in Japan, in two parts. There is Hoshino Resorts, and the linked investment vehicle Hoshino Resorts REIT. The business has 68 hotels across the country, and a desire to maintain a Japanese feel to its offering for guests. It experienced major growth during the pandemic, by offering a management service to distressed hotel operators and investors; from just over 3,000 rooms in 2019, has added more than 4,000 today.

Hoshino operates five sub brands led by Hoshinoya, a luxury brand with eight properties and a ninth in planning at the Niseko ski resort, due to open in 2026. Its Kai brand features luxury hotels close to hot springs, with 22 sites. Risonare, launched in 2011, features a selection of countryside resorts, while Omo is a brand featuring lifestyle urban hotels. Finally, Beb is an economy offering with some of the trappings of the hostel space.

Growing international pace

For Choice, international expansion has long been a second thought, but is now growing in importance. The group acquired Radisson Americas in 2022, and has now integrated that business into its US operations, further concentrating its business in the USA. More recently, Choice tried to launch a merger with Wyndham Hotels, a more internationally focused business, though that bid failed. Now, with this deal in Japan, and a recent portfolio deal in France, it is clear the group sees the benefit in building a more internationally diversified hotel portfolio around the globe.