A Fresh Look for Holiday Inn Express and Wingate by Wyndham

The limited service (aka select service) hotel wars continue to heat up. Days after the InterContinental Hotel Group (www.ihg.com) announced a new brand prototype for its Holiday Inn Express brand, the Wyndham Hotel Group unveiled a new look for its Wingate by Wyndham brand (www.wingatehotels.com). Both brands will feature a fresh contemporary design with a hefty dose of integrated technology, along with new meeting and food-and-beverage options.

Over the past 14 years, Holiday Inn Express has become IHG's fastest growing brand and now represents the bulk of the chain's development pipeline, with 473 hotels in the works. The new prototype, which the company developed through collaboration with an owner advisory group and guest focus groups, was designed specifically for the brand's portfolio of hotels in the U.S. and Canada. IHG said it expects the first retrofitted properties to open later this year, while the first new-build version will open in 2015.

The brand's new look will feature some new elements, such as a Great Room -- a multipurpose area within the lobby that will combine the brand's Express Start break bar, dining and lounging areas -- plus a 24-hour F&B market and a business center. Lobbies also will feature individual check-in pod stations and meeting spaces where small groups can gather. "Fresh and dynamic" is how the brand's development team describes this new space. As for guest rooms, expect a newly uncluttered design in a neutral palette, with more storage room and a flexible workspace. "The updated prototype includes purposeful design features to deliver on [guests] needs," said Jennifer Gribble, director, head of Americas Holiday Inn Express Brand, for IHG.

The Parsippany, N.J.-based Wyndham Hotel Group's new look for its Wingate by Wyndham brand, which targets business travelers, is also a contemporary update. It, too, incorporates an open, inviting lobby and lounge space, with a communal breakfast area that can turn into event space and/or an evening bar. The multifunctional area will incorporate lots of natural light and integrated technologies such as four large flat-screen TVs and complementary high-speed wireless Internet access. "The relaxing lobby space and integrated connectivity will give guests the productivity, comfort and social surroundings they now expect from their hotel," said Bill Hall, senior vice president of the brand. Existing properties will begin

transforming their hotels to the new look, while all new-builds will follow the new prototype. Their competition no doubt will be watching closely.