washingtonpost.com  > Print Edition > Weekly Sections > Washington Business

Choice Hotels to Launch 'Lower-Upscale' Brand

Monday, January 24, 2005; Page E02

Choice Hotels International, the Bethesda franchiser of brands such as Comfort Inn and Clarion, had not started a new hotel chain since 1996 until last week, when it announced plans for Cambria Suites, aimed a notch above its other brands in price and amenities.

"This gives us a higher price point," said Charles A. Ledsinger Jr., Choice Hotels' president and chief executive. "The time is good now for upscale hotel development. There has been not much supply added in the last few years."


Choice Hotels International said rooms in Cambria Suites hotels will look like this. The first Cambria Suites should open in about 18 months, Choice said. (Choice Hotels International)

Not that Cambria Suites will be aimed at the Ritz-Carlton crowd. Ledsinger said the target guest is a business traveler, and that direct competitors will include Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn. It's a sector the hotel industry calls "lower-upscale." Each room will have a plasma-screen TV set, a refrigerator, a microwave oven and wireless Internet access. Rates will be $90 to $100 a night, Ledsinger said, compared with about $75 a night for Choice's other brands.

He said the first Cambria Suites is likely to open in about 18 months.

VIRGINIA

Advanced Technology Systems of McLean, which provides information technology systems for government and commercial clients, opened an office in Honolulu to serve the Asia-Pacific region.

United Defense Industries of Arlington said it completed its $8 million acquisition of Engineered Plastic Designs, doing business as EPD Container Solutions of Berthoud, Colo. EPD makes containers for munitions, such as missiles and bombs, and handles and transports subassemblies from aircraft and space systems. EPD has 75 employees and had revenue of $10 million during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

CGI-AMS of Fairfax said its resources planning system has been selected by three additional governments: the State of Utah; San Bernardino County, Calif., and the City of Austin, Tex. The company's Web-based software suite is used by governments to manage financial transactions and business intelligence.

MARYLAND

Thales Communications of Clarksburg opened an office in Fort Wayne, Ind., to support work on a $295 million Army contract for the development of small, lightweight, software-run radios.

Cherry Hill Construction of Jessup, a building, civil construction and construction management company, was purchased by Perini of Framingham, Mass. for about $20 million in cash.

Manugistics Group of Rockville, which provides supply-chain-management software, said it has a partnership with International Business Machines to provide retailers with a system to handle replenishment of stock at the store level.

CoStar Group of Bethesda, which provides information to the real estate industry, said it would move into the retail real estate business. It announced the $4.1 million cash acquisition of the National Research Bureau, which provides property information to the shopping-center industry.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company