HOUSTON – Houston-based hospitality firm Valencia Group believes it has found a niche for further hotel expansion: college towns.
The firm — which is building the luxury Hotel Alessandra Houston downtown in partnership with Midway — is positioning properties near universities such as Texas A&M, explains Valencia Executive Vice President John Keeling.
“College Station is one of the strongest college town hotel markets in the southeastern U.S.” he adds. “The market is crying for a new upscale property. The hotel inventory there is either very old or limited service hotels. Our new hotels will attract corporate, leisure and group business from the very dynamic College Station/Bryan market.
Valencia and Midway are building two new hotels in College Station in the center of Midway’s 60-acre Century Square development on the Texas A&M campus, including the company’s newest hotel brand, The George. A 162-room ‘upper upscale’ property, The George – the name is a subtle nod to the many famous Georges throughout history who helped changed industry or history will bring an authentic, refined and local experience to the Brazos Valley region, Keeling said.
“It will have a Texas-sized porch that surrounds a modern version of a ‘local swimming hole’ where guests can stroll under a covered porch that features rocking and gliding chairs and relax under the canopy of trees surrounding the pool at the many fire pits and picnic tables. While The George, which opens this fall, embraces the region’s southern hospitality, we have worked hard to maintain a distinct sense of place,” Keeling said. MaRS is the lead designer on The George.
Valencia is also constructing the nearby Cavalry Court, slated to open early fall. An “upper-upscale” reinterpretation of the classic motor courts of the past the Cavalry Court in College Station will combine history with modern amenities.
“Cavalry Court will feature early military design from the 1950s and 1960s,” said Keeling. “The cavalry theme links us directly to the university. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets is one of the oldest and most respected ROTC program in the U.S. It is the only ROTC program with its own mounted cavalry (Parson’s Mounted Cavalry) including a horse drawn cannon. Through this theme we will connect with the university in a genuine way.”
Valencia and Midway unveiled life-size models of the luxury suites this week at GreenStreet , a downtown Houston mixed-use project, developed by Midway and Lionstone Investments, that will feature a Valencia hotel.
Midway’s College Station project, located about 90 minutes away from Houston. Century Square features 60 acres of preferred retail, restaurant, and entertainment options and 90,000 S.F. of Class-A office space. Century Square also will house 100 Park, an exclusive 250-unit multifamily complex designed to accommodate the unique needs of working professionals. The project will have 290,000-SF of retail.
Construction on the hotels is expected to take 13 months, with a completion date set for Fall 2016.
“College Station continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and is evolving as a vibrant 24-hour destination,” says Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden. “By offering hotel options such as Cavalry Court and The George, we’re not only fulfilling the city’s demand for luxury lodging, but also helping to create a special synergy in the neighborhood that will be appealing to a variety of travelers.”
Keeling says Valencia’s court concept hotel relies on a vastly expanded courtyard as a key element.
“The court becomes effectively an urban resort,” says Keeling. “It is attractive for both hotel guests and locals. The courtyard is a gathering place. And all of our courts hotels will have an open-air pavilion for music and/or weddings.
Every court will be unique, he added. “There is no prototype although there are elements such as courtyard, music, pavilion, etc.) that are common,” Keeling continues. “The hard part is making each property stand on its own, embracing the local culture and history without being too Disneyesque.”
Already, Keeling notes, Valencia’s Hotel Sorella in Midway’s CityCentre development at Beltway 8 and Interstate 10 is the highest performing hotel in west Houston and was rated the best hotel in Houston by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
“We have no desire to be uniform,” Keeling adds. “We design each hotel to maximize our competitiveness in each market.”
April 30, 2016
Realty News Report is a Texas-based publication edited by Ralph Bivins.