Choice builds French presence

Choice Hotels is to double its presence in the French market, after agreeing a strategic partnership with hotel operator Zenitude.

The move will see over 30 hotels rebrand to the Choice hotel family of brands, adding more than 4,000 rooms to the group’s inventory across France. It will grow its Clarion, Comfort and Ascend Collection brands through the partnership, and the two businesses are also investigating the potential for bringing one or more of Choice’s long stay brands into the French market, too.

Family-owned partner

French partner Zenitude is a family owned hotel management business established in 2009 by two brothers, who over the years have grown it into an operator of more than 40 hotels, managing a portfolio of over 5,000 rooms. The company intends to build on its presence across France by adding more hotels to its roster across other European countries.

Three landmark hotels have already been earmarked for early conversion, with the balance of the conversions planned to take place by the end of 2025. Choice has committed to provide support with refurbishment and upgrading of the properties, as they are adapted to seet Choice brand standards. The pair have signed a 20 year agreement, ensuring both are committed to a long term view of the working partnership.

First up will be a 460 room hotel close to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, which will become the flagship of the Clarion brand in France. Outside the town of Montpelier, the 100 room Hotel la Valadiere will join the Ascend Hotel Collection. And in Toulouse, a 110 room hotel close to the Blagnac airport will be switching its branding to Choice’s Clarion flag.

Further growth plans

The duo are already talking about organic and inorganic growth of the portfolio, as Choice makes a commitment to grow its European presence. “For Zenitude, our collaboration with Choice is very important in order for us to be able to face the technical, marketing and distribution challenges that the hotel industry faces today, and in the years to come,” said Romain Lubrano, CEO of Zenitude. “Being supported by Choice Hotels, one of the leaders in the international hospitality industry, will enable us to meet these challenges, respond to customer needs by upgrading our hotels in France, and expand into the EMEA region.”

The renewed focus on international expansion at Choice comes following a period when senior management were focused on growth by acquisition, having launched a potential takeover bid for peer Wyndham Hotels. That bid did not win sufficient market support, leaving both companies clear once more to look at other options to grow their businesses.