Chatham Lodging Acquires Brand New Residence Inn Charleston Summerville, S.C.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Chatham Lodging Trust (NYSE: CLDT), a hotel real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on investing in upscale, extended-stay hotels and premium-branded, select-service hotels, today announced that it has acquired the 96-room Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Summerville, S.C., for $20.8 million, or approximately $217,000 per room.

“This is a beautiful, brand new, superior-quality hotel located in Nexton, a rapidly expanding area just outside of Charleston which sits in the direct path of metro Charleston’s most energetic growth,” said Jeffrey H. Fisher, Chatham’s chief executive officer and president. “Including the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Summerville, this marks our second hotel in the heart of Nexton, a thriving community which mixes a smart, vibrant blend of businesses, schools, new homes, apartments, shops and eateries connected to each other by trails, parks and nature, and connected to the world through leading-edge technology.

“Volvo has completed construction of its first American factory, a state-of-the-art, 2.3-million-square-foot facility on nearly 3,000 acres very close to Nexton that is expecting its first cars to come off the production line in the next few months. Additionally and importantly for continued economic expansion in the area, Volvo has already announced plans to expand the facility with a second production line with completion estimated in 2020,” Fisher highlighted. “Our two hotels are the nicest and closest hotels to the new factory and are best positioned to service corporate guests given the mix of rooms and suites at our Courtyard and Residence Inn hotels. Given the recent run-up in construction costs, we already are acquiring this hotel below replacement cost, and operationally, we are able to leverage our operating expenses across two adjacent hotels which should generate higher than underwritten returns.”

South Carolina has been one of the fastest growing states in the country over the last five years due to the relocation of major corporations, as well as corporate investment and expansion. The state has one of the highest migration rates in the country for in-bound, college graduates under the age of 40. In the greater Charleston area, corporate demand is well-diversified with the area home to companies within the aerospace, automotive, bioscience, marine and distribution industries. Additionally, the region is home to over 250 technology companies employing more than 11,000 employees. Specifically, Nexton is projected to encompass approximately 10,000 homes, eight million commercial square feet and a medical campus over the next decade. In addition to the nearby Volvo facility, other major companies, such as Daimler and Boeing, have significant facilities in the area and have acquired additional land to expand their operations.

Chatham funded the purchase using available cash and borrowings on its unsecured credit facility. The hotel will be managed by Island Hospitality Management, which is 51 percent owned by Fisher. Chatham estimates it acquired the property at a year two net operating income capitalization rate of approximately eight percent.

About Chatham Lodging Trust

Chatham Lodging Trust is a self-advised, publicly-traded real estate investment trust focused primarily on investing in upscale, extended-stay hotels and premium-branded, select-service hotels. The company owns interests in 136 hotels totaling 18,616 rooms/suites, comprised of 41 properties it wholly owns with an aggregate of 6,117 rooms/suites in 15 states and the District of Columbia and a minority investment in two joint ventures that own 95 hotels with an aggregate of 12,499 rooms/suites. Additional information about Chatham may be found at?chathamlodgingtrust.com.

This press release may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about Chatham Lodging Trust, including statements regarding future plans, strategies, performance, acquisitions, capital expenditures, future operating results and the timing and composition of revenues, among others, and statements containing words such as “expects,” “believes” or “will,” which indicate that those statements are forward-looking. Except for historical information, the matters discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results or performance to differ materially from those discussed in such statements. Additional risks are discussed in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contacts

Chatham Lodging Trust
Dennis Craven, 561-227-1386
Chief Operating Officer

Charlestowne Hotels Welcomes Hotel Clermont to Charleston, S.C.

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Management company continues expansion in adaptive reuse market with historic Atlanta building

Charleston?,?SC – Charlestowne Hotels proudly welcomes Atlanta’s famed Hotel Clermont as the newest addition to the company’s expanding portfolio. Experienced in historic preservation projects, Charlestowne Hotels worked in partnership with Oliver Hospitality to oversee renovations for the nearly century-old Hotel Clermont and will now take over hotel management. Standing above the Clermont Lounge, an Atlanta institution, the 94-room boutique hotel features whimsical and lavish design elements that pay tribute to nine decades of Atlanta history. The hotel also includes four food and beverage outlets, including a swinging French-American brasserie with Southern accents and a rooftop bar with city skyline views.

To usher Hotel Clermont into the present while maintaining touchstones of its iconic past, Charlestowne worked closely with local partners, including the Georgia Historic Preservation Division and National Parks Service to develop a refreshed identity for the Clermont. “We looked to integrate modern, luxury amenities and services while still utilizing Hotel Clermont’s eccentric background as a foundation forbrand development,” says Michael Tall, president and chief operating officer of Charlestowne Hotels. “The hotel’s historic significance is an intrinsic storytelling element that guides the rest of our programming, dining and guest experiences.”

Hotel Clermont maintains signature architectural details of the original building, including the trademark Clermont signage and 65-foot radio tower from 1940. Interior design elements pay homage to Atlanta past and present, including wallpaper featuring the famous “Clermont Ladies” and Georgia peach trees, along with quotes from Atlanta rap duo Outkast etched along the walls.

A rarity among boutique properties, Hotel Clermont offers 15 bunk rooms with en-suite bathrooms and modernist twin bunk beds to sleep up to four people per room. The hotel will also feature three luxury suites and 76 guestrooms with king or queen beds. “Hotel Clermont was notorious as a dynamic and colorful gathering place,” Tall says. “Honoring this legacy, the bunk rooms, open bar areas and group packages are a nod to the hotel’s roots as a communal melting pot.”

The Hotel Clermont joins Charlestowne’s growing collection of preservation projects including The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens in St. Augustine, Florida, The Fairlane Hotel in Nashville, The Bristol Hotel in Virginia (opening September 2018) and The Foundry Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina (opening September 2018). Known for a tailored, hands-on management approach, Charlestowne will integrate strategic sales and marketing initiatives along with significant community outreach to ensure the property reaches full revenue potential.

For more information, please visit www.hotelclermont.com.

About Charlestowne Hotels

Founded in 1980, Charlestowne Hotels is a leading full-service hospitality management company offering innovative expertise in hotel development, operational controls, marketing management, revenue optimization, and financial reporting. Now regarded as one of the top hotel management companies in the U.S., Charlestowne Hotels leads its properties to consistently achieve RevPAR growth nearly double the national average. The brand offers a robust portfolio of properties around the country, from independent inns and resorts to franchised hotels and condos. By employing a proficient management style that hones in on the guest experience, Charlestowne Hotels drives its properties to regularly receive industry accolades on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List and Readers’ Choice Awards, Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for “Top City Hotels in the Continental U.S.” and “Top 100 Best Hotels in the World,” and top standings on TripAdvisor. For more information please visit www.CharlestowneHotels.com.

The Lowcountry is Honored to have 14 Hotels with AAA Four Diamond Rating

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Just 6.1 percent of the?more than 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels make the Four Diamond list.

Congratulations to HarbourView Inn, French Quarter Inn, and The Spectator Hotel for being awarded the Four Diamond Rating by AAA!

South Carolina is proud to have 32 hotels with a Four Diamond Rating including ten (10) in Charleston, one (1) in Mount Pleasant, one (1) in Isle of Palms and two (2) in North Charleston including the North Charleston Marriott just added in 2017.

BEAUFORT

The Cuthbert House Inn (2012)
The Rhett House Inn (2015)

BLUFFTON

Montage Palmetto Bluff (2017)

CHARLESTON

Ansonborough Inn (2010)
Belmond Charleston Place (1992)
French Quarter Inn (2002)
Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston, Autograph Collection (2015)
HarbourView Inn (1999)
John Rutledge House Inn (1989)
Planters Inn (1995)
Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel (2003)
The Restoration (2010)
The Spectator Hotel (2015)

COLUMBIA

Hilton Columbia Center (2011)

GREENVILLE

Hyatt Regency Greenville (2013)
The Westin Poinsett (2003)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND

Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa (2003)
Ocean Oak Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations (2017)
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort (2006)
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (1995)
The Inn & Club at Harbour Town (2003)
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (1994)

ISLE OF PALMS

The Boardwalk Inn at Wild Dunes Resort (1998)

LANDRUM

The Red Horse Inn (2011)

LATTA

Abingdon Manor (1997)

MOUNT PLEASANT

The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina (2016)

MYRTLE BEACH

Marina Inn at Grande Dunes (2007)
Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes (2005)

NORTH AUGUSTA

Rosemary Inn Bed and Breakfast (2012)

NORTH CHARLESTON

Crowne Plaza Hotel Charleston Airport/Convention Center (2011)
North Charleston Marriott (2017)

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH

North Beach Plantation (2011)

Photo:? The Spectator Hotel

Cambria Hotels Breaks Ground on Charleston, S.C., Riverfront

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(PRNewsfoto/Choice Hotels International, In)

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), along with RREAF Holdings and New Castle Hotels & Resorts, broke ground on the Cambria Hotel in Charleston, S.C. The Cambria Charleston Riverview, a 126-room hotel is located at 84 Ripley Point Dr. on the Ashley River, and is slated to open early in 2019 and will be built by Freese Johnson Contractors of Atlanta.

The Cambria Charleston Riverview is perched on the marshes of the Ashley River, just minutes from Charleston’s Historic District. The hotel’s location provides quick access to everything that the area offers, in addition to the Medical University of South Carolina complex and the College of Charleston.

“The Charleston Riverview property is in a prime location right near downtown, making it the perfect fit for the modern traveler. We look forward to working with RREAF Holdings to build their first Cambria, and providing guests with an upscale lodging option where they can treat themselves while on the road,” said Michael Lusick, vice president, upscale operations at Choice Hotels.? “With Charleston being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, we’re excited to continue the Cambria brand’s rapid expansion in this key market. The Cambria Charleston Riverview will be one of three Cambria Hotels in the area, including Mount Pleasant, which also recently broke ground, and North Charleston.”

To commemorate the occasion, local artist Norma Ballentine presented an original painting of the city’s iconic pineapple, a symbol of hospitality and welcome, to the developers, RREAF Holdings, a privately held commercial real estate firm and New Castle Hotels & Resorts, a leading third-party hotel management firm.

“We traditionally focus our investments in Texas, Tennessee and the Florida panhandle, but we could not pass up the opportunity to enter a highly competitive market, like Charleston, and reset the bar for a compelling growth brand like Cambria Hotels,” said Kip Sowden, CEO of RREAF Holdings. “We have every confidence that our development and operating partners will deliver an outstanding return to our investors.”

Charleston is acclaimed for its storied history, beautiful architecture, unique character and its classic southern hospitality. Charleston is also a high barrier-to-entry market,” said Cord Middleton, Regional Partner, RREAF Southeast Region. “Our site, with its irreplaceable location on the Ashley River, provides an opportunity for a locally focused, upscale brand like Cambria to enter a market that might otherwise have been unattainable. That’s a great benefit for investors and the travelling public alike.”

The Cambria Charleston Riverview will include 1,300 square feet of multi-function meeting space, a full-service bar featuring local craft beer, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The property also has spacious and comfortable rooms, along with spa-like bathrooms that offer contemporary fixtures, refined surfaces and abundant light.

“Tremendous air lift, and its distinctive character make Charleston a popular choice for both business and leisure travelers,” noted Gerry Chase, president and COO of New Castle Hotels & Resorts, which will operate the hotel. “Travelers seek out local relevance when choosing hotels and now Choice Hotels’ more than 33 million Choice Privileges members will have a brand new upscale option that pays tribute to the local culture when they visit this iconic city. There is a reason that both Travel+Leisure and Conde Nast readers rank Charleston the top city in the U.S. and Canada.”

About Cambria Hotels
Cambria Hotels are designed for the modern traveler, offering guests a distinct experience with simple, guilt-free indulgences allowing them to treat themselves while on the road. Properties feature compelling design inspired by the location, spacious and comfortable rooms, flexible meeting space, and local freshly prepared food and craft beer. Cambria Hotels is rapidly expanding in major U.S. cities, with hotels open in Chicago, New York City, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. There are now 32 Cambria properties open across the United States, and there are more than 100 hotels open or in the pipeline in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more, visit www.cambriahotelsandsuites.com.

About Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH) is one of the world’s largest hotel companies. With over 6,500 hotels franchised in more than 40 countries and territories, Choice Hotels International represents more than 500,000 rooms around the globe.? As of September 30, 2017, over 800 hotels were in our development pipeline. Our company’s Ascend Hotel Collection?, Cambria? Hotels, Comfort Inn?, Comfort Suites?, Sleep Inn?, Quality?, Clarion?, MainStay Suites?, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel?, Econo Lodge?, Rodeway Inn?, and Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels? brands provide a spectrum of lodging choices to meet guests’ needs. With more than 33 million members, our Choice Privileges? rewards program enhances every trip a guest takes, with benefits ranging from instant, every day rewards to exceptional experiences, starting right when they join.? All hotels and vacation rentals are independently owned and operated. Visit us at www.choicehotels.com?for more information.

About RREAF Holdings
RREAF Holdings?is a privately-held commercial real estate firm based in Dallas, Texas.? Formed in 2010 to develop high quality projects, create programmatic acquisition platforms and provide superior service and value to a wide range of investors from institutional capital partners to high net worth individuals, RREAF has a history of success in the acquisition, development, asset management, ownership, repositioning, and financing of complex real estate projects throughout the United States.? Please visit www.RREAF.com for more information.

About RREAF SE
RREAF SE, is the southeast regional partnership of RREAF Holdings, Cord Middleton and Randy Warner, the regional partners. RREAF SE will expand the footprint of RREAF Holdings acquisition and development programs in the Carolinas, Georgia and Northeast Florida and the Charleston Cambria Riverview Hotel is its first venture.

About New Castle Hotels & Resorts
Shelton Connecticut-based New Castle Hotels & Resorts, an award-winning independent third-party hotel manager, owner and developer with 25 hotels and resorts and nearly 4,000 rooms under contract or in development.? New Castle’s growing portfolio of hotels spans nine states and two Canadian provinces, including several historic landmark hotels and resorts.? The privately-held company was established by CEO, David Buffam in 1980 and consistently ranks among the top hotel management and development companies in North America.? For more information, please visit www.newcastlehotels.com.

 

SOURCE Choice Hotels International, Inc.

Seven Of Naman Hotels’ South Carolina Properties Earn Tripadvisor’s 2017 Certificate Of Excellence (2 in Lowcountry)

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Charleston, SC – September 20, 2017 – Naman Hotels Group announced that seven of the company’s South Carolina properties received the 2017 TripAdvisor? Certificate of Excellence. Now in its seventh year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have consistently achieved great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, restaurants and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.

The properties that have received the 2017 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence are:
Hyatt Place Charleston Airport and Convention Center, Staybridge Suites North Charleston, Hampton Inn & Suites Orangeburg, Hampton Inn Columbia / Lexington, Holiday Inn Express Aiken, Holiday Inn Express Walterboro, Staybridge Suites Columbia.

“Naman Hotels is honoured that so many of our hotels have earned the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by our customers. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the achievement is a remarkable vote of confidence to our continued business success and commitment to service excellence,” said Nick Patel, Chief Financial Officer.

“TripAdvisor is excited to announce the recipients of the 2017 Certificate of Excellence, which celebrates hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travelers,” said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. “This recognition allows us to publicly honor businesses that are actively engaging with customers and using feedback to help travelers identify and confidently book the perfect trip.”

The Certificate of Excellence takes into account the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

About Naman Hotels
Naman Hotels is a leading hotel management and development company. Established over forty years ago, the company owns, operates and develops hotels in the southeastern United States. Based in Florence, South Carolina, Naman’s portfolio consists of 13 hotels comprising over 1,100 guest rooms throughout the Carolinas. Naman’s wide range of experience includes full service, upscale, extended stay, and select service lodging establishments. Naman’s portfolio includes many award-winning franchises of premier hospitality brands.

About TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site*, enables travelers to unleash the full potential of every trip. With more than 500 million reviews and opinions covering the world’s largest selection of travel listings worldwide — over 7 million accommodations, airlines, attractions, and restaurants — TripAdvisor provides travelers with the wisdom of the crowds to help them decide where to stay, how to fly, what to do and where to eat. TripAdvisor also compares prices from more than 200 hotel booking sites so travelers can find the lowest price on the hotel that’s right for them. TripAdvisor-branded sites are available in 49 markets, and are home to the world’s largest travel community of 390 million average unique monthly visitors,** all looking to get the most out of every trip. TripAdvisor. Know better. Book better. Go better.

TripAdvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP), through its subsidiaries, manages and operates websites under 22 other travel media brands: www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.bookingbuddy.com, www.citymaps.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.flipkey.com, www.thefork.com (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, www.iens.nl and www.dimmi.com.au), www.gateguru.com, www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.housetrip.com, www.independenttraveler.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.niumba.com, www.onetime.com, www.oyster.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.tingo.com, www.tripbod.com, www.vacationhomerentals.com and www.viator.com.

*Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, December 2016
**Source: TripAdvisor log files, Q1 2017

Fairfield’s Charleston Airport Hotel Introduces New Area Director of Sales

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CHARLESTON, S.C., Sept. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Atlanta-based hospitality management group Hotel Equities recently named Polly Ann Elliott as the Area Director of Sales for its properties in Charleston, South Carolina, including the Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center.

In addition to the conveniently located Charleston South Carolina airport hotel, Ms. Elliott now directs the sales teams at four other area hotels managed by Hotel Equities, including Sleep Inn Charleston North, Residence Inn Charleston North / Ashley Phosphate, Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North / Ashley Phosphate and Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North / University Area.

Formerly with Interstate Hotels and Resorts as the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Historic District, Ms. Elliott built an impressive record of success by increasing both occupancy and revenue during her seven-year tenure.? She brings two decades of sales experience, leadership and training to her new position with Hotel Equities. Past positions include Eastern Regional Sales Specialist with Marriott International and Director of Sales for the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Coliseum.

“We hired a gem in Polly Ann,” said Mr. Salapka. “She’s a topnotch sales person with a depth of experience in the Charleston market.? She shares her expertise by training and mentoring her sales team and she enjoys building relationships with her clients.? She does it all.”

Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center is just moments from the city’s unforgettable downtown historic district and offers guests convenience to the North Charleston Coliseum and other area sights as well as near the Tanger Outlets. The North Charleston hotel is conveniently close to the airport, less than 5 miles away, and a 3-minute drive from the Convention Center. Complimentary shuttle service takes guests to and from the airport, and the friendly, warm staff welcomes guests every evening Monday through Friday with a Manager’s Reception that offers complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and light snacks.

About Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center

Truly confident travel begins at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center. The hotel offers both the friendly service guests expect and the convenience they need for a rewarding stay in North Charleston, South Carolina. Settle in to spacious rooms or suites, and enjoy amenities like free Wi-Fi and plush pillowtop mattresses. Stay productive at well-lit work spaces, or relax in front of a flat-screen TV. Mornings are always bright, thanks to the property’s complimentary hotel breakfast and the evenings greet guests with a special weekday Manager’s Reception, which includes beer, wine, and soft drinks. For travelers in South Carolina for work, the hotel’s two versatile meeting rooms and 24-hour business center are a perfect match. And the property’s prime location in North Charleston, near both the airport and the Convention Center as well as other sights, makes traveling to and from the hotel easy and stress-free.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center
4841 Tanger Outlet Blvd
North Charleston, South Carolina 29418 USA
+1-843-300-3100
http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/chscs-fairfield-inn-and-suites-charleston-airport-convention-center/

What you should know about the Travel & Leisure Best of Announcements Today (Carolinas Have Room to Celebrate)

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There was a lot of great information relevant to our area that came out today.? There is also room to celebrate for the Southeast

We want to share some additional information you may not know.

 

Three North and South Carolina Hotels Made the Top 100 in the World List

  • 91 – Inn & Club at Harbour Town, Hilton Head, South Carolina (Score:? 95.45)
  • 66 – Old Edwards Inn & Spa, Highlands, North Carolina (Score: 95.89)
  • 45 – The Willcox, Aiken, South Carolina (Score:? 96.38)

Charleston, South Carolina is the #2 City in the World (Top 15 Revealed)

 

Charleston, South Carolina is the #1 City? in the United States

 

Two Charleston, South Carolina Hotels Made the Top 15 City Hotels in the United States List

  • #12 – Zero George – Charleston, SC
  • #9 – The Vendue – Charleston, SC

 

Carnival Cruise #7 Mega Ship Ocean Cruise Line

 

Hilton Head, South Carolina Ranked #2 Best Island in the World

Congratulations to all

11 of Top 15 Hotels in South Carolina located in Charleston Area

The latest USNews and Worlds Report ranked the top 15 hotels by state.? In the state of South Carolina, eleven (11) area hotels made the list for 2017.

They ranked the top hotels in South Carolina based on an unbiased analysis of awards, expert recommendations and user ratings. Out of luxury hotels, 4 earned a Gold badge by scoring in the top 10 percent of the Best Hotels in the USA. Read the Best Hotels Methodology.

This is how the Top 15 Ranked for 2017 – Best Hotels in South Carolina

  1. Wenworth Mansion – Charleston, SC
  2. The Sanctuary at Kiawah – Kiawah Island, SC
  3. The Sea Pines Resort’s Inn & Club at Harbour Town -Hilton Head, SC
  4. Montage Palmetto Bluff – Bluffton, SC
  5. The Spectator Hotel – Charleston, SC
  6. Belmond Charleston Place – Charleston, SC
  7. French Quarter Inn – Charleston, SC
  8. Market Pavilion Hotel – Charleston, SC
  9. Planters Inn – Charleston, SC
  10. The Restoration – Charleston, SC
  11. HarbourView Inn – Charleston, SC
  12. The Westin Poinsett – Greenville, SC
  13. The Westin Hilton Head – Hilton Head, SC
  14. Grand Bohemian Hotel – Charleston, SC
  15. Wild Dunes Resort – Isle of Palms, SC

Full Listing and Details

Congratulations to the eleven amazing hotels that continue to make us proud in the Charleston area.

How Legitimate Are Online Hotel Reviews? – How to avoid getting scammed

Last week, Masterkey USA put an ad on Charleston Craigslist for freelance writers/bloggers.

The ad said:

  • You do not have to be a good writer
  • We will provide the keywords for you to use
  • You will be helping our hotel clients grow their business

We wrote to Vishal and inquired about opportunities to write for Masterkey.? We did not get a response and the ad has since been taken down and removed.

Masterkey USA is a hotel marketing agency that increases hotel clients sales performance and helps their online presence.? Masterkey Hotels is a chain of hotels out of the same region as the marketing firm.? We cannot confirm a direct connection, but location, name and industry indicate a potential partnership.

So, what was this ad looking for?? Very simple:? They were looking for people to write false online hotel reviews to boost their client’s reservations and occupancy rates through unethical business practices.

As a consumer seeking a place of lodging, we typically look for three key elements:

  • Affordability – Based on the region and value added (attractions, dining), what hotels offer the best rates.
  • Volume Reviews – If more people stay at a hotel, the better it must be.
  • Quality of Reviews / Ratings – What hotels have the highest average ratings.

Quite simply, if a hotel has 500 reviews averaging 4.5 / 5.0 stars, they will have a higher conversion rate of new customers than a hotel with 50 reviews and an average 3.0 / 5.0 star rating.? The filters of online review sites such as TripAdvisor, Hotwire and Kayak allow you to sort by rating, cost and number of reviews making it very easy to make a quick booking decision.

When companies like Masterkey USA hire people to fill in the blanks and write five star reviews, it only hurts the consumer.

How can you avoid making a poor decision when choosing a hotel?

  • Look for longer more thorough reviews.? Don’t just read the first few reviews.? Scroll down and look for the longer reviews that provide very specific detail on their stays (room quality, customer service, location, dining, etc.)
  • Don’t let the number of reviews affect your decision.? If a few hotels stand out with an enormous number of reviews, don’t let that be your only determining factor.
  • Look for reviews that match your personal needs.? If you are a family of four, don’t read a review from a honeymoon couple.? Look for family relevant reviews.
  • Thoroughly scroll through the visuals.? Pictures paint a very strong story.? Look at images of the lobby, rooms, food, parking lot and create a visual of what your stay may look like.
  • Focus on amenities.? Does this hotel offer what you need?? Some love free breakfast, while others prefer a gym that is open 24 hours.? Factor in your habits and what amenities meet them to your final decision.
  • Distance to destinations/attractions – How close is your hotel to the attractions you want to see.

Make your vacation memorable starting with the right lodging decision.? Good luck and make great memories.

 

The Folly Road Conundrum

By Mark A. Leon

For those on the path of Folly Road (You know who you are fellow James Islanders, Folly Beach residents, West Ashley and peninsula dwellers), the idea of Folly Road during beach season is a thought we try very hard to avoid.? At times, the road more closely resembles a parking lot than a roadway.? Yet, in the last three years a transition has occurred and one that has shaken up the locals.

With the increased housing development of James Island and John’s Island, traffic has gone from seasonal to all year long.? Here is what has been happening because of the increased traffic pressure:

  • The light at the corner of the James Island Connector and Folly Road can back cars up as much as seven plus lights on the connector during peak beach season and daily rush hour.? This is causing some drivers to make a right onto Folly and doing an illegal U-Turn in the middle of the road.
  • The light at Folly Road and Ellis is causing a three or four light backup to turn left due to Lowe’s, IHOP, Wells Fargo and the Peninsula Condominiums.? Some are turning right into Harris Teeter and then pulling an illegal U-Turn to take the light across Folly Road.
  • The construction on the approval circle at the intersection of Camp and Folly is causing nightly delays.
  • The increased traffic is hurting the roadway infrastructure resulting in more untreated potholes.
  • Traffic on parallel road, Riverland Avenue is seeing increased pressure and volume.
  • Businesses are suffering due to the increased challenges of making turns on Folly Road.
  • Within 3 miles, there are 10 bars and 6 restaurants with full liquor licenses.? This easy accessibility to alcohol coupled with careless driving to avoid parking lot type conditions has increased the number of Folly Road related accidents.? Without the budget to increase the police presence, this trend may continue.

Now, we need to look at future state.? We estimate that there will be 4.5 to 4.9 million tourists in Charleston in 2016.? Hotel development is at an unstoppable period of expansion.? That is a fact.

Now let us think like a tourist.? When we look for hotels, we look at mile proximity to our destination.? Folly Road on James Island sits at 3 – 10 miles from downtown Charleston and 0 – 10 miles from Folly Beach.

When does the hotel development begin?? It is a realistic future state that we cannot ignore.? Is the new Camp and Folly round about (circle) a way to alleviate the traffic issues, or a preliminary requirement to pave the way for hotel development?? We are not here to speculate or assume anything.? This is a trend that has been developing for several years and thus we cannot ignore a probability of future hospitality on Folly Road.

How do we work to rectify this Folly Road conundrum?

  • Improve the timing of the lights to provide more time for turn lanes.
  • Improve the bike lane situation to give more safe options for alternative transportation.
  • Ensure hotel development is held back.
  • Minimize new housing development moving forward
  • Closer monitoring of key spots on Folly Road to deter illegal driving behavior.

Will this solve everything?? Most likely not, but these few necessary steps can ensure the safety of our citizens and provide a better quality of life on Folly Road and surrounding areas.