Bold makeover of former Days Inn paying off with higher room rates

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

A newly rebranded Clarion Inn & Suites near Universal Studios Orlando is in the midst of a total property makeover, with a $6 million investment that should more than double the hotel's average daily rate by August, property ownership told GrowthSpotter

Located at 5827 Caravan Ct., near the intersection of S. Kirkman Road and Major Boulevard, the hotel was formerly known as Days Inn Orlando Maingate to Universal. Rebranding took effect on May 5 as Clarion Inn & Suites Universal Studios Area

Owned since 1995 by Caravan Hotel Properties, property renovations began in August 2014 with Orlando-based Vision Construction, which won the general contractor job based on a transformative redesign concept few general contractors could match, said Anshu Jain, managing member for Caravan. 

"We interviewed about 15 contractors last year, but only one or two really came up with an original concept we liked," he said. "We chose Vision because of their creativity. We knew we were dealing with an older property, it wasn't going to be a simple task, and we wanted a very modern look without getting involved in heavy reconstruction." 

Vision is providing complete renovation build out, reconstruction and brand conversion services that include the complete restructuring of two buildings on the property's rear. Those were demolished by the Florida Department of Transportation for its I-4 Ultimate expansion. 

The property's guest rooms were recarpeted with walls retextured and painted, and 262 keys were reduced to 184 as a number of standard rooms were combined for new king suites. Those suites will be equipped with stainless steel fixtures, expansive storage and closet space, and a double-wide walk-in shower with rain spout, among other amenities, said Kait Doulou, sales and marketing director for Vision.

"We've tried to bring that luxury feel to a mid-scale price point hotel, which is hard to find," she said. "Ownership picked deep purple and gray colors for the property's redesign, which offers a striking difference from your standard beige hotel walls." 

Architectural redesign and construction work has included retiled corridors, a completely resurfaced pool, hot tub and tiki bar area, renovated meeting space, and a brand new lobby in another location of the building, with a modern-design lobby bar, business center, restaurant and new fitness center, among other amenities. 

The hotel's old breakfast room has been converted to a small cafe, and the established Tabla Bar & Grill restaurant on site, well-reviewed online for its North and South Indian food, broadened its menu for a range of South Asian cuisine. 

Caravan financed the renovation project in part through capital from the ownership stakeholders, along with a loan from a private equity firm in Delaware that the owner has a relationship with from other commercial projects, Jain said. 

Rebranded as Clarion for just over a month, the hotel's current average daily rate of $74 is up $34 from earlier this year when it operated as Days Inn, said Jain, who thinks management can raise that ADR by another 15 percent after renovations are complete. 

The property's revenue in 2013, when it operated as Days Inn with no construction on site, was $2.8 million, Jain said. With the hotel limited for more than half of this year by construction, revenue should reach $1.8 million for 2015, but Jain projects it to surpass $3 million annually in 2016 and beyond. 

bmoser@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5685

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