You might not know Sonesta hotels but they’re about to be everywhere
If you haven’t heard of Sonesta hotels yet, get ready. These properties might soon be springing up in destinations around the U.S. as the brand opens up franchising opportunities across the country.
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Sonesta is a Boston-based hotel chain that currently has seven brands under its belt: extended-stay Sonesta ES Suites; community-driven Sonesta Select; Sonesta Hotels & Resorts, with locations from Cairo to Cartagena; no-fuss Sonesta Simply Suites; Royal Sonesta, which recently transformed the Kauai Marriott into the Royal Sonesta Kaua'i Resort Lihue; plus a chain of country inns in Peru and a cruise collection sailing Egypt’s Nile River.
Last year, as the travel industry seemed to crumble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonesta (a lesser-known brand in the U.S. at the time) acquired RLH Crop, the parent company of America's Best Value Inn and Red Lion Hotels. This acquisition, which TPG reported as a $90 million value, added more than 1,000 properties to the company’s portfolio. Overnight, Sonesta became one of the largest hotel chains in the country (the eighth largest, to be exact).
Now, it’s about to get even bigger. Sonesta announced in September the launch of its global franchising division, Sonesta Franchising. Currently, four Sonesta brands are planned to be included in the U.S. franchise program: Sonesta Hotels & Resorts, Sonesta ES Suites, Sonesta Select and Sonesta Simply Suites.
According to a statement from the company, Sonesta Franchising will offer “a complete platform of franchise services, hotel operations and franchise support, featuring industry-leading brands with a wide range of hotel service levels to meet travelers’ needs.”
While the nitty-gritty of franchising might not be of interest to everyone, what is important to know is that Sonesta may soon be a much bigger player in the travel industry for travelers around the country. And with that, there will be new opportunities to capitalize on its rewards program, Sonesta Travel Pass.
Sonesta Travel Pass currently offers three benefit tiers: Member (zero to five qualifying nights), Preferred (six to 11 qualifying nights) and Elite (12 or more qualifying nights). By simply signing up for the program, members are instantly granted a swath of “instant benefits” including 5% discounts on standard room rates, free upgraded Wi-Fi, the opportunity to earn free nights with no blackout dates and exclusive offers.
From there, members who climb their way up through the benefit tiers have the chance to earn other perks available at participating hotels. Some of these rewards include complimentary club lounge access or continental breakfast at Royal Sonesta or Sonesta Hotels & Resorts for Elite members; “Sip n’ Snack” credits ranging from $5 to $15 at Sonesta Select, Sonesta ES Suites and Sonesta Simply Suites and discounts on dining and potential complimentary room upgrades for Preferred and Elite members at Royal Sonesta and Sonesta Hotels & Resorts.
Luckily, gaining top-tier Elite status in the program doesn’t even require staying the full 12 nights. As TPG previously reported, Sonesta World Mastercard® holders get automatic Elite status as long as the card remains open, and the program matches status with other hotel chains.
“The Sonesta franchising launch announced this week, during this time of travel’s reemergence, means the potential for additional locations. When brands franchise — it provides additional opportunities to earn under their rewards and recognition programs and also create new locations to use the rewards,” Brian Quinn, chief development officer for Sonesta, told TPG in an email.
While it’ll take some time before we see just how many new properties open as the franchising program launches, the company’s aggressive expansion plans might just mean that Sonesta will soon be a travel force to be reckoned with.