New brand picks site near Quail Springs Mall for first hotel

By Molly M. Fleming

The Journal Record


OKLAHOMA CITY – Champion Hotels CEO Champ Patel was part of an owners panel that helped shape IHG’s new brand, avid.

He said he wanted to build the first avid on NW 138th Street between Quail Springs Mall and N. May Avenue to get publicity for the city.

He also built Hilton’s first Tru by Hilton. The opening at the S. Meridian Avenue property was a grand event, with Hilton representatives nationwide coming to Oklahoma City to see it.

Patel plans to build five more avids in Oklahoma and five avids across his 23-state business area.

In Oklahoma City, he’s partnering with Fred Mazaheri on several avids. Patel and Mazaheri are putting avids in Bricktown, on S. Meridian Avenue, and near Quail Springs Mall.

The property near Quail Springs will open in August. It is four stories with 87 guest rooms and an outdoor pool.

Patel is also building an avid next door to the Tower Hotel on Northwest Expressway. Patel bought the 1980s-era Tower Hotel last week and will renovate it into an Embassy Suites Hotel.

IHG’s CEO of the Americas, Elie Maalouf, said the brand was announced eight weeks ago, and there have been 34 hotel development deals signed already, with 100 applications being reviewed. This is IHG’s 13th brand.

He said IHG didn’t expect to open the first avid until 2019.

“To get this level of applications in eight weeks is quite impressive,” he said. “We’re proud of the work our owners have done and our teams have done.”

Maalouf said there is a $20 billion market of budget-weary travelers who are underserved. They are looking for new hotels where they can get sound sleep, with a contemporary look and vibrant spaces, that also offer a rewards plan.

“That doesn’t exist today,” he said, adding that most of that market is old converted product.

Avid’s average room prices will be $10-to-$15 less than Holiday Inn Express, and the cost to build for owners is 15 percent less than a Holiday Inn Express as well. The hotels will sit on 1.5 acres of land, be a minimum of three stories, and have 95 to 100 guest rooms.

Maalouf said the product is attractive to owners because it has a high return on investment.

Hotel analysts have compared avid to Tru by Hilton, since both products offer a high-end, but budget-friendly room. Maalouf said IHG is a leader in the midscale market, with Holiday Inn Express being the largest hotel brand.

“The midscale market is our area of expertise,” he said. “It’s a natural for us to work within this area.”

Patel was praised Wednesday for his leadership in the hospitality industry.

Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier said he’s glad that Patel chose to make Oklahoma City his home, both personally and professionally.

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, who is running for the city’s mayor, said on the campaign trail, he gets a lot of questions about why there isn’t a certain business here. He said he’s often asked about In-N-Out Burgers.

But we won’t have to worry about someone asking about avid, he said.

“Other peoples’ mayors will have to worry about people asking that question,” he said.

He said Patel and others in the hospitality business are especially loved by elected officials because of what they do for the city.

“You bring people to town who pay for everything they use, and then they leave,” he said. “Those are some of our favorite people.”

Patel said he’s pleased with how avid looks. He said he thinks budget-conscious travelers will like it as well.

“I have 100 percent confidence that this brand will be good for travelers and customers will be able to get what they want,” he said.