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NEW YORK CITY-La Quinta Inns opened its first hotel in the New York metropolitan area last Saturday, a 72-room, newly constructed property in Jamaica, Queens.

The chain’s New York entry was anything but conventional. The property, located at 153-95 Rockaway Blvd., was slightly more than 75% built when local hotel developer Sam Chen and Hersha Hospitality of Cumberland, PA sold it to Long Island based-Airport SAI Hospitality for $7.2 million. La Quinta became involved shortly thereafter when the new owners decided to franchise the four-story hotel. Deirdre Murphy of the Wilder Group, Great Neck, NY, brokered the sale.

Airport SAI is paying a $45,000 pre-opening fee to operate the limited-service hotel under the La Quinta flag as well as a royalty of 4% to 4.5% of gross room revenue, plus 2.5% of gross room revenue to support national marketing efforts and another 2% to support reservation operations.

Alan Tallis, executive vice president and chief development officer for La Quinta, tells GlobeSt.com “30% of the rooms available are being booked through our central reservation system, which is an extremely strong start.” More than half those rooms are occupied he says. Room rates are approximately $140.

Located less than two miles from JFK Airport, Tallis expects occupancy at the property “will follow our historic pattern, which is about 55% business and 45% leisure.” The leisure portion will include guests en route to other destinations. As the economy has slowed, many business travelers have traded down from mid-scale hotels to limited-service lodging such as La Quinta Inns. And when the economy starts to improve, which Tallis forecasts will start at the beginning of next year, he expects limited-service hotels will benefit as business travel increases.

La Quinta owns, operates and franchises 229 Inns and 73 Inn & Suites in 30 states and plans on franchising three more hotels in the city and two elsewhere in the state.

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