Ascend Collection by Choice Hotels – what experience to expect from this conversion brand for boutique hotels

Choice Hotels is the second largest hotel company measured by the number of properties and mostly made up of budget hotels like Rodeway Inn or mid-scale hotels like Quality Inn. The Ascend Collection marks the top-end of Choice Hotels and is their conversion brand with 146 properties worldwide, most of them in the US.  Find out more about who they are and what to expect.

So, who are they? In 2008 Choice renamed the former Clarion Collection hotels to Ascend Collection, targeted at upscale historic, unique and boutique hotels. Today, the Ascend collection includes 112 hotels in the US and 34 in the rest of the world. With an Average Daily Rate (ADR) of $127, the brand falls at the bottom end of the “upscale” category for the US.

Choice describes the brand as follows: “Ascend Hotel Collection® is a network of one-of-a-kind upscale properties. Each Ascend™ hotel is a unique reflection of the distinct character of its host city – yet all offer the same high standards of hospitality and luxurious comfort. And since the properties are independently owned and associated with Choice Hotels, you get the peace of mind that comes with a national brand.”

This is a fairly good description of the brand: as a conversion brand it’s a loosely defined collection of properties that join to have access to the Choice backoffice, sales & marketing systems as well as rewards program Choice Privileges, without having to follow strict brand guidelines. While conversion brands really don’t give me any “peace of mind” due to the lax standards and Ascend is barely upscale, it does give the individual hotel room to remain unique and relevant to their individual locations.

What experience can I expect? As with all conversion brands that are loosely defined “collections”, it’s difficult to pin down the experience you can expect from one of the hotels. While you can expect higher standards than at Choice mid-range brands like Quality Inn or Comfort Inn, because the standards are so loose, the hotels don’t have too much in common: It can include anything from nicely renovated motels with limited service, like the Port Inn Kennebunk, Maine:
MNE PortInn Kennebunk bed1to full-service city hotels like the Hotel C Stockholm with restaurant, bar and meeting rooms!

photo courtesy of Choice website

photo courtesy of Choice website

Branding these hotels together is more of a way for hotel companies to manage a diverse set of properties than for travelers to find similar hotels. Therefore, I recommend to not book any Ascend Collection hotels solely on their brand, but to always carefully read individual hotel reviews to see if they are a fit for your needs!
Ascend Collection hotels do participate in the Choice Privileges rewards program, allowing you to earn and redeem points. Because of the limited benefits for elite members, there are few perks for staying at one of the properties though.

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