Two-in-One Hotels Please Different Clienteles

Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn
Source: Hilton Hotels
Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn

It's a two-for-one deal at many hotel properties across the country. And it's not about getting a free night's stay.

Major hotel chains are now building two hotels on one property, some in the same building, that target two very different clienteles.

The so-called dual-branded hotels are the latest way hotel developers are saving money during tenuous economic times.

"It allows the owner to not only save on construction and operational costs from combining services such as the pool or housekeeping department, but it also gives them an opportunity to appeal to a wider array of potential clientele," says Glenn Haussman, editor in chief of trade news site Hotel Interactive.

It's not unusual for two different hotels to share the same land. But sharing a building or communal areas is a new strategy.

You won't find a Hilton and a Marriott in the same building. But you can find two Hilton brands. Often it's an extended-stay hotel coupled with a limited- or even full-service property.

• Earlier this year, Choice Hotels International unveiled a dual-brand hotel prototype for its Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites brands. It combines features of each brand such as Sleep Inn's signature tower and MainStay Suite's roofline in one building. Shared features include the lobby, community room, fitness center and laundry.

• Marriott has a combined Residence Inn/Renaissance hotel in Alexandria, Va. Residence Inn/Courtyard hotels are under development near the L.A. Live entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles. A JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton already is there.

• A new Courtyard/Residence Inn will open in late 2013 near Manhattan's Central Park with views of the Hudson River and Times Square. The 68-story building will house Courtyard rooms from floors six to 32 and extended-stay Residence Inn suites from 36 to 64. They'll share a fitness facility, retail space, a restaurant, lounge and outdoor seating overlooking Broadway.

The concept of two hotels in one, says Marriott spokeswoman Jessica Stadd, has "a great return on investment and appeal to two different groups."

Hilton has 10 dual-branded properties across the country, each coupling an extended-stay Homewood Suites with another brand such as Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn. Seven more will open in the next two years in the U.S. and Canada. (Read more: Road Warrior Tested: Hilton Los Angeles Airport)

The most recent, a Homewood and Hilton Garden Inn, opened Dec. 20 in Shreveport/Bossier City, La. Earlier this month, Hilton debuted a dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites in Atlanta. The 12-story hotel has 136 Hilton Garden Inn rooms and 92 Homewood studio suites. The lobby is split between the two brands with two separate check-in desks and lodging and dining areas. Communal areas include meeting rooms, a business center, pool and fitness center.

Dawn Koenig, vice president of brand performance support for Homewood Suites by Hilton, says each brand tries to maintain its own identity even though they share the same communal spaces and housekeeping staff.

Guests at Homewood Suites, for instance, get free breakfast every morning and dinner a couple of times a week. Hilton Garden Inns, meanwhile, have restaurants. Some tweaks have to be made because of the shared arrangement, such as serving that free breakfast in a room that requires key card access. (Read more: New Device Lets Crooks Crack Many Hotel Locks)

Employee uniforms are made to look similar, and employees wear name badges with each brand name on it, Koenig says. "We really work to find some great synergies if we can," she says.

That said, each hotel maintains its own lobby and charges its own rate.

Koenig calls it a win-win for both the company and the guest. The company saves money and the guest gets better common areas. For example, fitness centers and pools tend to be bigger when the hotels combine forces, she says.

"Some of these public spaces we share typically become more robust," she says.

And, Haussman says, consumers get more of a choice. "For groups such as sports teams or family reunions people can choose from two differently priced experiences and still stay under the same roof," he says.