Tysons, VA

The Marriott TownePlace Suites Falls Church hotel is under new management as Sonesta Simply Suites Falls Church (205 Hillwood Ave).

The pandemic has hit Fairfax County’s hospitality industry hard, resulting in a huge loss in revenue and widespread lay-offs. But one hotel brand called Sonesta International Hotels has steadily been acquiring hotels during unprecedented drops in travel.

Sonesta acquired the TownePlace Suites in Falls Church and 97 other hotels affiliated with Marriott in October because the hotelier had fallen behind on payments, according to the properties’ owner, Service Properties Trust (SVC).

A Massachusetts-based real estate investment company, SVC says it ended its 26-year relationship with Marriott last fall after attempting and failing to collect $11 million in missed payments from the hotel chain. SVC owns a 34% share of Sonesta.

“We believe that the rebranding of these hotels with Sonesta will benefit SVC as an owner of Sonesta, create greater flexibility in managing these hotels through these challenging market conditions and have a positive impact on this portfolio’s performance in the future,” SVC President and CEO John Murray said in a statement last fall.

The international hotel chain lost 122 hotels, which had collectively generated only $2.6 million in eight months, the press release said.

Sonesta took over the management of 98 of the 122 hotels. The remaining 24 hotels were sold for more than $150 million.

“This is a momentous time for the company, underscoring the continued growth and amplifying the long-term success of Sonesta and its branded hotels,” Sonesta says on its website.

Sonesta has experienced 350% growth in less than six months, and will soon have 300 operating properties across seven brands operating in North and South America, Egypt, and St. Maarten, according to a press release from Sonesta.

The D.C. area saw hotel occupancy rates drop below 50% last year, Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar previously told Tysons Reporter. Fairfax County saw $9.1 million in hotel revenue in May 2020, compared to $70 million in May 2018, and that figure did not include related services, such as catering.

Sonesta’s growth comes amid early signs of recovery in the hard-hit hotel industry, including a sudden spike in occupancy rates ahead of the Inauguration last month. Still, travel is not projected to bounce back fully until 2024.

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