ALBUQUERQUE-American Property Management Corp. has ended another contract with a major international hotel player in a $25-million bid to forge the independent Heritage Hotels and Resorts brand. The Hilton Hotels Corp. contract was set to expire in August.

“This is our fourth departure from flagship hotel companies in the past 12 months. We’re moving forward now to create the Heritage Hotels and Resorts and that’s our focus,” says James Long, president and CEO of Heritage Hotels and Resorts Inc., the locally based hospitality subsidiary for American Property Management in San Diego. The agreement sets the stage for change at the 203-room Hilton Hotel Las Cruces at 705 S. Telshor Blvd. Previous changes took place on properties operated by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham International Inc. and Raddison Hotels & Resorts.

Long says the re-branding is a multimillion-dollar initiative for the Las Cruces hotel as it was for the Lodge at Santa Fe and Hotel Plaza Real, also in Santa Fe; Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico, AZ; and another local property, the Nativo Lodge.

Long and Michael Gallegos launched American Property Management in 1989 to invest in real estate, but not to form an independent hotel chain. “We saw the opportunity in the marketplace during the past couple of years and decided to take it,” Long tells about an initiative now in its 16th month.

When the Las Cruces re-branding is done, Long says they will seek more conversion candidates in the Southwest. “We’re planning a combination of acquisitions and ground-up developments to do this,” he adds.

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