In its Quest for Growth, Hotel Brand Key West Inns Retains Steven Belmonte/Hospitality Solutions

  • Key West Inns
  • 12.07.10
For years, hospitality industry veteran Steven Belmonte, CEO of Hospitality Solutions LLC and former president and CEO of Ramada Franchise Systems, has advocated: "The road to success in the U.S. hospitality industry can be long and difficult. The shortest, easiest route to prosperity is with someone who's been there before and can help lead the way."

This month Neal Jackson, president of Birmingham, Ala.-based Key West Inns Inc., is turning to Belmonte and Hospitality Solutions for guidance by serving as a strategic advisor to the brand.

"To be successful in franchise development you need to know how to spot a good thing when you see it - whether it's a quality property or a quality business partner/advisor," Jackson said. "The years of franchise success that Steve Belmonte had with Ramada, coupled with countless success stories regarding Hospitality Solutions and the positive impact it is having on the franchise community, was an indication that our shortest route to growing this quality, family-operated brand in 2011 and beyond is with Steve Belmonte advising the way.

"Steve's reputation and knowledge of the hospitality industry from an employee, owner, operator and franchisor viewpoint is unsurpassed, and his experience with Ramada - growing the brand from 400 hotels to 1,100 hotels in under a decade - is quite impressive," he said. "We value Steve's guidance and are looking forward to hearing his ideas for growth. Key West Inns is a proven, solid brand that is repeatedly listed among the top 100 hotel brands. Awareness, however, is a challenge, but it brings with it a lot of opportunities."

Jackson said the Key West Inns franchising program is affordable and owner friendly, featuring a low, flat franchise fee, short-term contracts, and it's backed by Jackson Hospitality Services, one of the oldest family-owned and operated management companies in the industry. JHS was founded in 1974 by Chairman Cory Jackson Sr., and in 1989, he launched the Key West Inn brand which he turned over to sons Neal and Cory Jackson Jr. 

"Key West Inns is really a nifty company," Belmonte said. "The brand is ripe for franchise expansion. In addition to having a themed hotel concept and a laid-back Key West island atmosphere, the franchise terms are what really turned my head. In today's market, flexible franchise terms are critical, and if owners are fortunate enough to find an organization that offers short-term agreements with low, flat monthly fees, it's an outstanding benefit. Add to that a highly-successful reservation system, third-party distribution, individual property Internet marketing support and an investment in next-generation technology, and you've found a true recipe for success." 

Key West Inns is a strong and growing franchise organization with 24 properties across the Southeast. Operating under the umbrella of its parent company Jackson Hospitality Services, Key West Inns and Key West Inns & Suites are 45 to 90 room, limited-service properties offering clean, comfortable rooms to accommodate leisure and business travelers.

As a strategic advisor, Belmonte said he will take a look at the company and its operations, marketing and support programs to determine how best to proceed with franchise development efforts. In addition, he will examine the company's property insurance, liability and health care programs to see if the franchise organization can benefit from a further partnership with Hospitality Solutions LLC, including its real estate service.

Since becoming the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn at the age of 18 and later buying the hotel he started at, to holding the title of longest standing president of a national franchised hotel chain while at the helm of the Ramada hotel chain, Steven J. Belmonte brings new meaning to the phrase “from the mailroom to the boardroom.”
Prior to founding Hospitality Solutions in 2002, he served as president and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain for 11 years. Before joining Ramada, Belmonte was the president and CEO of Equity Hotel Corp., a hotel management firm that he co-founded in 1984 and nurtured to become one of the top 10 management companies in the industry. He also has served as chairman of the American Hotel Foundation (AHF), vice chairman of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF), and former chairman of the honorary board with Childreach (formerly Foster Parents Plan) and recipient of its prestigious Humanitas Award. In 2002, Belmonte was recipient of the prestigious 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by Roosevelt University in Chicago.

"The growth principle on which Key West Inns was founded does not involve growth for the growth sake," Belmonte said. "This brand is committed to quality and will remain quality driven. What that means is no substandard properties will be integrated into its system. That's not only refreshing to hear, but it's the new standard by which all franchise companies should be judged going forward."

According to Jackson, Key West Inns is planning to add 10 to 15 new franchised hotels to its portfolio each year.

"We anticipate a lot of our immediate growth to come via our relationship with Steve Belmonte and Hospitality Solutions," Jackson said. "With Steve in our corner, building awareness and gaining momentum, we know we are being pointed in the right direction for ongoing success and prosperity."

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