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Best Western Buys WorldHotels, Adding Chain Of Nonchain Hotels To Its Stable

Best Western Hotels & Resorts has acquired WorldHotels, a brand including about 300 specialty hospitality properties worldwide, from Associated Luxury Hotels for an unspecified price.

Monarch Beach
Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif.

The deal represents a major move by Best Western into soft-brand hotels. Soft brands, though chains for the purpose of reservation systems and other behind-the-scenes aspects, rely on their property's individual identities, rather than standardized features, to attract clientele.

A number of global hotel chains have launched soft brands in recent years, but this deal is the first time a hotel group has bought an entire soft-brand collection, Skift reports.

One advantage of nonchain branded hotels is that its properties can charge more than those of a standard chain, because the hotels' unique features don't compare easily to standard properties with standard price points.

Ascend Collection (founded by Choice Hotels International), Preferred Hotels, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and Leading Hotels of the World are other examples of soft brand groups.

Frankfurt, Germany-based WorldHotel's properties are divided into three classes, Luxury, Elite and Distinctive. Its only Luxury-class property in the United States is the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California, with others of that class in Brunei, China, Ecuador, the Maldives, Sweden and Vietnam.

The brand's Elite and Distinctive properties are much more numerous and scattered across six continents.

WorldHotels will maintain their distinctive identity while using Best Western's e-commerce platform, partnerships, loyalty program, sales and marketing support, and global distribution network.

"In the coming months, our focus will be to unlock WorldHotels' potential by improving revenue delivery to its hotels while protecting its independent identity," Best Western President and CEO David Kong said in a statement.

The deal brings luxury and upper-upscale hotels to Best Western's orbit. The company traditionally has been associated with mid-market properties, but it has been expanding its offerings in recent years.

Last year, Best Western unveiled two new brands, Sadie Hotel and Aiden Hotel, which are in the upscale segment and upper-midscale segment, respectively. 

Best Western's portfolio includes 13 brands and about 4,200 properties worldwide. The company launched its SureStay Hotel by Best Western, SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western and SureStay Collection by Best Western in 2016.