Choice completes EMEA brand refresh with Ascend Collection

Choice Hotels International’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) division is completing its brand re-energisation strategy with the refresh of its Ascend Hotel Collection.

This follows its Comfort, Clarion, and Quality hotels already adopting the new brand direction and the Sleep Inn brand having been recently introduced to the region.

Ascend’s ascension

The Ascend Hotel Collection portfolio across EMEA currently comprises a network of more than 70 unique, independent boutique hotels. 

In 2008, Choice Hotels International became the first hotel group to launch a hotel collection in the US. The Ascend Hotel Collection quickly gained momentum thanks to four major hotels that joined the same year, setting the foundation for its long-term growth and expansion in the US and Europe.

Haven of Hygge

The refreshed EMEA Ascend Hotel Collection proposition will see hotels offer a ‘Haven of Hygge’ in some of the region’s key destinations with a design direction that balances striking character with convivial warmth, and contemporary freshness with authentic neighbourhood touches.

The hotels’ unique story is at the heart of the refreshed Ascend brand, with each property free to develop its own hallmarks within the Ascend positioning framework.

A Choice Hotels toolkit is designed to help franchisees capture their own narrative and transform it into authentic guest experiences.

Hallmark trio

Building on their stories, Ascend Hotels will be given the freedom to identify their own unique experience touchpoints with each working to develop on three types of hallmarks that together will highlight their individuality and elevate their most distinctive qualities:

Each hotel will define its ‘Icon’: a unique element of a guest’s stay that expresses the hotel’s unique character and establishes a strong link to the surrounding community. This could be a physical space, object, or experience, representing an opportunity for guests to discover something new.

The hotel’s own ‘Rewarding Rituals’ can inspire moments of serendipity and create a stronger sense of belonging. These small touches are designed to build anticipation and leave a lasting impression, while connecting guests more closely to the hotel’s character or story. Options include a memorable arrival experience, daily afternoon tea with a twist, or surprising in-room amenities.

Finally, the ‘United in Kind’ hallmark encapsulates the hotel’s connection to its community, such as a volunteering programme, a local partnership or direct support for worthy causes in the area. This is an opportunity for hotels to make a lasting positive impact and ensure guests can play a part in their efforts to improve the community.

Last milestone

Choice Hotels EMEA CEO, Jonathan Mills, said: “This is the last milestone in our journey to re-energise our entire EMEA brand portfolio as our Ascend Hotel Collection now joins hundreds of Comfort, Clarion, and Quality hotels across the region that are already working to transition to the refreshed brands.

“Our refreshed Ascend Hotel Collection brand is carefully crafted to offer both clarity and definition, always keeping the customer experience at the forefront while driving revenue and optimising operational efficiencies.

“As part of Choice Hotels, every Ascend Hotel in the collection benefits from our global scale and distribution, while retaining the distinctive character and creative autonomy of a family-run independent. Whether it’s a centuries-old country estate or a contemporary urban design hotel, Ascend Hotels offer guests one-of-a-kind experiences and environments with the assurance of a warm and welcoming community.

“Guests staying at any of our wonderfully original Ascend Hotel Collection properties will find a modern, charismatic brand that welcomes every guest as family.”

Research reaction

The refresh responds to independent consumer research conducted in the UK, France and Germany, which revealed upscale travellers in the EMEA region seek unique, character-rich environments that don’t follow a standard formula – along with a warm, homely atmosphere that inspires a sense of belonging.

Ascend Hotel Collection franchisees will begin shaping their unique identity and developing their brand stories over the next two years, with support from Choice Hotels EMEA.

In Europe, the Ascend Collection has sites in the Nordic region, in Spain, in Ireland, in Italy, and in Turkey