CHARLOTTE, NC—Gary A. DeLapp, president/CEO of the recently launched StayAPT Suites, believes that the brand will be a disruptor in the extended-stay category.
“We launched for the chance to be a disruptor in the space with our size and functionality of the product, coupled with the fact that more people are becoming more aware of the extended-stay segment in general,” said DeLapp.
DeLapp knows a thing or two about the extended-stay category, having served as president/CEO of Extended Stay America, and president of WoodSpring Suites until its acquisition by Choice Hotels International in 2018. “Having run two brands already, I have great instincts and insights about the extended-stay segment as a whole,” he said. “Obviously, there is a gap in the midscale stay—a lot of white space. Everything has been focused on the economy or the upscale, and there isn’t a lot in between. I really understand that space and understand what is important to make it successful.”
The StayAPT Suites’ room is designed to feel like home, according to DeLapp. “Typically, you see all these brands—other than the higher end—have the single room with a kitchen almost on your bed,” he said. “For us, it is designed to feel more like home. Give the guest more space, better functionality and a separate kitchen away from your living area and from your bedroom. The square footage of our rooms is 500 sq. ft. That in itself is a game-changer relative to the competition in that space that I described.”
He continued, “This is clearly a point of difference. That is why I refer to it as a disruptor in the space, because no one else is doing it, unless you get to the high-end brands, like Homewood and Residence Inn. Those brands are really different, but the price point is substantially more also.”
The rooms have a fully equipped kitchen with a full-size stove and a dishwasher. “So many of the mid-price and lower-price hotels have PTAC units, and we have a full central-air system like you would have in a home,” said DeLapp. “We have an on-site fitness facility and on-site laundry room. We have an outdoor courtyard, which is a great gathering area with a built-in grill station and a firepit that people can gather around. It is safe and secure because it is inside the actual hotel perimeter.”
When creating the hotel concept, the company took a different approach to the labor model—outsourcing many tasks. “Instead of staffing up, we tried to figure out a way to be more productive,” he said. “Because of that, we outsource the laundry—there is no on-site laundry room. We also outsource our maintenance. This allows other companies that are bigger and specialized to do those things. And, it allows us to do it for less instead of trying to have our own in-house individuals in our labor model to do that. That is why we are able to streamline that. It is different than what everybody else is doing. It is a way to get more accomplished for less money, which, in turn, creates better yields for the business.”
He continued, “The way I look at it is so many companies are outsourcing IT and other pieces, and the way the business works today, other companies can do it more efficiently and for less cost.”
The hotel manager will also have an apartment and live on site. “The cost of living is going up,” said DeLapp. “This was a good way to attract good, quality managers who can live on site with a two-bedroom apartment.”
DeLapp said that the company is on track to open 12 newly constructed properties in 2020, both franchised and under corporate ownership. “From my experiences…we need to get potential franchisees to see that we are putting our money where our mouth is and making the same sort of commitment and risk that they would have to take,” he said. “It resonates well with them. With the big brands today, they don’t build anything, they just franchise. For a smaller guy like us, and from my experience running some of the other brands, you have to do those sort of things so they realize that you are truly a partner.”
StayAPT Suites will offer two- and three-story construction models ranging from 59 to 89 units. The prototype sizes and land usage are designed for sites ranging from 1.8 to 2.1 acres in size. The development has no restricted territories and is designed to fit well in large, medium or tertiary markets. “We have a smaller prototype for someone that can be in a smaller or tertiary market that many of the brands don’t have,” he said. “That allows us to go to some of the markets where you don’t see new product.”
The company has committed to building 100 corporate hotels, with the first on track to open in the late summer in Tennessee. The first franchised hotel is opening in late spring in Ft. Belvoir, VA.
The first 12 properties are located in the South. “We are based in Charlotte, so it is a quick way to reach out to close markets nearby,” said DeLapp. “We are already as far as Texas now. We have sites tied up in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. We are expanding beyond that, looking at other places—Denver and Salt Lake. We are getting the low-hanging fruit in terms of the markets that are closest to Charlotte. A lot of this is that I had to build the company, too. We are doing a lot of things with a small staff. As I have built the staff up, we are able to expand our footprint and our reach.” HB