Best Western is unique in that it runs through a non-profit membership model. Here, we look at the member brands that form its portfolio.
BWH Hotels — the official corporate name of the company long referred to as Best Western — is a global hotel business with about 4,700 hotels spread across 19 brands in more than 100 countries. It provides various services, including budget accommodation, boutique hotels, and extended stays.
Founded in the U.S. in 1946, BWH Hotels has become a group of brands headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. The group mostly has a non-profit membership structure, though its SureStay brand family operates as a franchise.
In property count, BWH Hotels is smaller than some other well-known hotel groups, such as Marriott and Wyndham. But the group says it has the second-largest number of soft-branded hotels of any hotel group. That means it has more than 500 hotels with more flexible brand standards — where developers can provide custom experiences. One example is The Stratosphere (“The Strat”) on the Las Vegas Strip.
BWH Hotels is also developing branded residences, particularly in Asia Pacific. A recent one in Vietnam has 3,125 condominiums.
BWH Hotels’ Categories & Brands
Extended Stay: @Home by Best Western, Executive Residency, SureStay Studio
Value: SureStay Hotels, SureStay Plus, SureStay Collection
Timeless: Best Western, Best Western Plus, Best Western Premier, GLo
Aspirational: WorldHotels Luxury, WorldHotels Elite, WorldHotels Distinctive, WorldHotels Crafted
Boutique: Vib, Sadie, Aiden
Collection: BW Premier Collection, BW Signature Collection
@Home Best Western
- Global Footprint: 25 deals in the pipeline. (Brand launched in October 2022.)
BWH Hotels Take: “@Home by Best Western is a mid-priced entry into the extended-stay segment for stays of typically 7- to 20-night stays. All units are studios with kitchens.”
Skift Take: Many hotel companies have strict standards for brands. BWH Hotels has given developers more flexibility with @Home by Best Western. If they want to. add meeting space or make the rooms roomier to fit queen beds, they can. What guests can expect consistently is no breakfast but there’s typically a place to buy some supplies. A fitness studio is standard. The group expects to have close to 100 in the works by the end of 2023.
- Global Footprint: 8 hotels globally, 15 in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “Executive Residency provides exceptional longer-term accommodations to satisfy the needs of one of the fastest growing segments in the hotel industry today.”
Skift Take: A step above what @Home by Best Western (above) offers, this brand debuted in 2016. One of the group’s smaller brands, Executive Residency has a handful of properties in the U.S. and Canada, one in the Netherlands, and one in Kenya. A developer in Australia has one under construction, with an aspiration to do about 15 in total using modular construction where a property can be built within about six months each.
- Global Footprint: 10-plus hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “Where value and quality meet the convenience of home, SureStay Studio is an extended stay offering.”
Skift Take: A premium-economy extended stay option, SureStay Studio was launched in 2019, addressing a gap in Best Western’s portfolio. The collection recently expanded into the Philippines, continuing the SureStay brand’s growth in Asia. It’s a conversion brand, which is more popular than new construction brands when developers face rising interest rates.
- Global Footprint: 170-plus
BWH Hotels Take: “Delivering the value and comfort today’s traveler expects, SureStay Hotels offer the necessities for a good night’s stay.”
Skift Take: The company added this premium economy brand in 2016. Unlike most of the rest of BWH Hotels’ brands, SureStay operates under a low-cost franchising model. It has grown so fast that the group appears to be tapping the breaks on its growth a bit to keep the overall group portfolio balanced. Premium economy is a challenging segment for any company to ensure that all properties are clean, well-maintained, and providing a high level of guest service, for all hoteliers.
- Global Footprint: 130-plus hotels
BWH Hotels Take: “Great value with quality extras. Whether for leisure or business, SureStay Plus Hotels is the perfect choice for those who like to travel simply and casually.”
Skift Take: The next step up in the SureStay family, Plus offers extras, including breakfast, Wi-Fi, pools, and fitness centers. Post-pandemic, BWH Hotels is being extra careful to ensure quality standards are consistent across these franchised properties.
- Global Footprint: 121 with another 25 in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “A premium-economy hotel offering that provides independent hoteliers the opportunity to retain their local identity and individuality.”
Skift Take: Sitting at the higher end of SureStay’s portfolio, SureStay Collection is a soft brand, meaning it offers developers and owners flexibility on standards, which means the experience differs somewhat from property to property.
- Global Footprint: 1,982 hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “Our timeless flagship midscale Best Western hotels offer exceptional value with the comfort of home and the amenities to ensure a restful and productive stay.”
Skift Take: Best Western’s namesake, the brand that started it all, is one of the most recognizable in North America. It prides itself on good value and amenities, including free Wi-Fi and free breakfast. The brand targets both leisure and business travelers.
- Global Footprint: 1,224 hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “Our upper-midscale Best Western Plus hotels focus on providing guests with that little something extra.”
Skift Take: A step up from the Best Western brand, Best Western Plus is a consistent performer with an average occupancy rate of around 70% (in North America). The brand has growth on the agenda, with about 150 hotels in the pipeline. Guests can expect a restaurant on-site with a broader menu than at the foundational Best Western, plus some other higher-quality amenities. Breakfast isn’t free.
- Global Footprint: 127 hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “Our upscale hotels offer a truly refined atmosphere and style, deluxe amenities and features, and superior comfort and service for a truly memorable stay.”
Skift Take: A stylish hotel chain with a global presence, Premier targets upscale leisure and business travelers. The brand recently expanded its reach in Asia by announcing two new significant properties in Ho Chi Minh. Hotels have restaurants, but no free breakfasts.
- Global Footprint: 12 hotels in the USA and Canada, another dozen in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “An innovative boutique hotel brand for the broad midscale market, offering savvy travelers the best in value, design, and comfort.”
Skift Take: GLo was founded in 2015 to bolster its U.S. presence in the upper midscale market. The brand exists exclusively in North America, primarily in major cities such as New York, Ottawa, and Nashville. It’s a prototype for developers seeking something “lifestyle” design elements, such as playful paint colors and lobby decor, without going fully into boutiques with, say, rooftop bars. Aims typically at suburban and tertiary markets.
- Global Footprint: 12 hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “Iconic in nature, these hotels are recognized local landmarks in their coveted destinations for their exceptional service, superior accommodations, and refined amenities.”
Skift Take: BWH Hotels acquired the WorldHotels brand (and its four collections, Luxury, Elite, Distinctive, and Crafted) in 2019. It has retained the now 52-year-old brand’s personality. There’s room for expansion: The Luxury collection has doubled since the sale, expanding into Spain and western Canada. Some properties, including several in Asia Pacific, charge $1,000 a night.
- Global Footprint: 70 hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “A carefully selected portfolio of stylish properties with a local flair and first-class service.”
Skift Take: This brand features big box, upper-upscale hotels in city centers and other high-demand locations. Many of these are large and host regional conventions, typically ranging from 300 to 1,600 rooms. The Stratosphere in Las Vegas, with about 2,500 rooms, is the biggest. Recent additions include properties in Amsterdam and Tokyo.
- Global Footprint: nearly 50 hotels globally
BWH Hotels Take: “A collection of established hotels in the most vibrant neighborhoods, offering a distinct and attainable stay for the discerning traveler.”
Skift Take: WorldHotels Distinctive operates in a similar space to the Elite collection, but the properties are typically a little smaller and maybe only have one restaurant or bar. The brand offers upscale luxury and full-service accommodations in North America, Europe, and Asia, mainly in city centers. Some properties, especially in Asia Pacific, proudly display the WorldHotels brand, while others underplay it.
- Global Footprint: 25 hotels across North America and Europe, about 25 in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “An inclusive collection that captures the spirit of the destination that it serves. Properties are typically smaller, with perhaps 40 to 50 guestrooms.”
Skift Take: The Crafted collection was launched shortly after acquiring WorldHotels to target the luxury lifestyle segment with a “boutique”-like brand accentuating food-and-beverage offerings and local flair in the decor. The upper upscale brand has enjoyed the fastest growth of the four collections, and plans to expand into Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. We expect to see significant growth here.
- Global Footprint: 5 hotels globally, about a dozen in the works.
BWH Hotels Take: “A vibrant and stylish boutique concept — a cost-efficient urban design with hyper-connected public spaces.”
Skift Take: Opened in 2014, this upscale brand targets tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z travelers. Vib (rhymes with “vibe”) currently has properties in five locations in the U.S., Thailand, and Turkey. Hotels in Crete, Greece, and Cape Town, South Africa are also in the works. It’s a new construction brand. BWH Hotels recently built on its own two in Tempe, Arizona, and Denver, Colorado, to prove the brand to developers.
- Global Footprint: 6 hotels in construction and the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “Sadie is an upscale prototype that offers the perfect combination of hotel and home for an enriching experience.”
Skift Take: Aiden has become what Sadie was intended to be. Sadie was founded in 2018 to bolster the organization’s offering with a lifestyle-like property at a higher rate, but Aiden has proven more popular. Expect numbers to stay small on Sadie.
- Global Footprint: 21 hotels in the U.S., Australia, Asia, and Europe and roughly 50 in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “Aiden it’s personality. It’s a trendy new soft brand of modern, suburban boutique hotels with a cool, laid-back personality. No two hotels are alike.”
Skift Take: A lifestyle hotel brand in the upscale segment, Aiden is a brand that takes design inspiration from the local area. While not a lifestyle brand per se, Aiden gives next-generation developers the flexibility to have a non-vanilla/non-generic design. Best Western seems to have a tremendous focus on this brand’s growth out of all its boutique collection brands. Aiden is a conversion brand that takes a, say, 30-year-old independent property, gives it a fresh look, and makes it more appealing to travelers at a possibly higher nightly rate.
- Global Footprint: 100-plus hotels globally, about 50 in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “The BW Signature Collection is a collection of upper-midscale hotels that share our commitment to delivering an exceptional and unique travel experience.”
Skift Take: The BW Signature Collection was added to the portfolio in 2017 as a new addition to its upper-midscale market. It’s similar to the WorldHotels Distinctive collection only has a more explicit branding tying it to the foundational Best Western brand.
- Global Footprint: 100-plus hotels globally, about 20 in the pipeline
BWH Hotels Take: “A global collection of carefully selected upscale and luxury hotels that share Best Western’s rich history of providing guests with unique and local hotel experiences.”
Skift Take: BWH Hotels’ first “soft brand,” BW Premier Collection, was launched in 2015. The brand is a strong performer in one of BW’s fastest-growing segments. Expect many Latin American all-inclusive resort to seek to join this soft brand.
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch
Photo credit: A Best Western property in Montgomery, Alabama. Source: BWH Hotels. BWH Hotel Group