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Ascend Hotel Collection Inks Member Agreement With Starwood Capital Group

Adds Iconic Postcard Inn to Portfolio

SILVER SPRING, Md., Jan. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ascend Hotel Collection from Choice Hotels International announced today it has added Postcard Inn on the Beach, St. Pete Beach, Fla., to its portfolio of independent hotels. Postcard Inn is a one-of-a-kind hotel with retro, 1950s, surfer-inspired style. The property is owned by an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group, a leading global real estate investment firm, and managed by Philadelphia-based Hersha Hospitality Management.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/PH46498 )

"We are excited to join Ascend Hotel Collection and Choice Hotels," said Roy Shanholtz, vice president, Starwood Capital Group. "Being part of Ascend will build visibility for our hotel before an audience of more than 16 million Choice Privileges rewards members. Starwood expects Choice's vast distribution channels to help increase awareness and drive occupancy at Postcard Inn, which combines a relaxing atmosphere with unique design elements for a fun and affordable hotel on one of America's top beaches."

Ascend Hotel Collection has more than 75 upscale properties in key destinations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Costa Rica. Member hotels maintain their independent identity, while adding the firepower of the Choice Hotels global sales, marketing and technology platforms. The properties tap into Choice Privileges, a network of more than 16 million rewards members worldwide. They are featured on ChoiceHotels.com, one of the industry's most visited websites, attracting more than 100 million visits annually. Ascend Hotel Collection member hotels also are supported by mobile platforms and e-marketing tools, including the Choice Hotels iPhone, iPad and Android apps, making the lodgings instantly available to millions of travelers worldwide.

Ascend Hotel Collection appeals to both owners of existing hotels and developers of new ones. Recent additions to the eclectic portfolio include boutique hotels in major cities, including New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Ottawa and Calgary as well as signed franchise agreements for new properties in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, British Anguilla and other premier destinations.

"We're delighted to team up with Starwood Capital Group," said Michael Murphy, senior vice president of upscale brands at Choice Hotels. "Ascend Hotel Collection is achieving great momentum, attracting world-class strategic franchisees and exciting new members like Postcard Inn. This hotel is in an ideal location and has fantastic food and a unique surfer-inspired ambiance. It will have great appeal to our guests – savvy travelers who like innovative lodgings that let them experience the destination like the locals do."

Surfer Chic with BBQ by the Beach

Postcard Inn sits at the ocean's edge on St. Pete Beach, a six-mile-long island off Florida's West Coast. This destination ranked No. 1 on the 2012 TripAdvisor list of Top 10 Beach Destinations in the United States. It is known for its wide, white-sand beaches and warm Gulf of Mexico waters, just right for swimming and watersports like paddle boarding and jet skiing.

A modern hotel with vintage flair, Postcard Inn was built in the 1950s as a two-story, U-shaped motel. A 2009 upgrade transformed it into the Postcard Inn. The hotel is a collaboration of Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group; famed restaurateur Stephen Hanson and his in-house design team; Philadelphia-based S.L. Design; and landscape architect Christy Ten Eyck, based in Phoenix and Austin, Texas.

Postcard Inn attracts all types of travelers – singles, couples and families – with its singular surfing-inspired style. Many of the 196 guestrooms feature bona fide surfboards anchored to the wall and standing upright in the corner. While no two rooms are alike, all are outfitted with retro light fixtures, flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi and down-filled duvets with crisp white covers. Some rooms also have large-scale surfer photos by local artists and quotes from legendary surfers, artists and musicians. Rooms lining the pool come with patios and hammocks affording views of the hotel's heated Olympic-size pool and palm tree-lined grounds. Through the end of March, Postcard Inn room rates start at $189 per night.

The hotel has two gyms, snorkeling, parasailing, shuffleboard, volleyball, Ping Pong, a shady courtyard, picnic area, vintage photo booth, game room, billiard table, business center and a library. The onsite restaurants and beach bar – the PCI Bar & Grill and PCI Snack Shack – are hits with visitors and locals, who gather there for the ocean breezes and gourmet spin on grilled comfort food featuring local seafood and regional American BBQ. On some nights, live music adds to the upbeat ambiance.

Postcard Inn is the place for wedding ceremonies in the tree-filled courtyard garden or on the white sandy beach against the backdrop of the setting sun. The hotel has catering services and indoor and outdoor event venues, including a ballroom, executive boardroom, garden and beach, accommodating 500 people for banquets and receptions and 250 for meetings and conferences.

Outdoor activities like dolphin tours, fishing excursions and scuba diving are minutes away. For culture buffs, the $36-million Dali Museum in St. Petersburg houses the world's largest collection of Dali works outside Spain. Walt Disney World is a little more than an hour's drive. Also nearby: shops and restaurants in downtown St. Petersburg; Busch Gardens; Lowry Park Zoo; Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays; Fort DeSoto Park; and other attractions. Postcard Inn is close to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport.

About Ascend Hotel Collection
The Ascend Hotel Collection membership program made its debut in late 2008 and now has more than 75 hotels open and under development throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Scandinavia and the Caribbean. This eclectic portfolio of upscale, independent hotels appeals to the growing number of people who like to immerse themselves in the destination and live like the locals when they travel. Member hotels include TheGEM Hotels with three boutique hotels in New York City; Zona Hotel and Suites Scottsdale in Arizona; Grand Hotel Costa Rica, San Jose; Hotel Royal William in the chic New St. Rock district of downtown Quebec City; Nordic Light Hotel, Stockholm. For more information, visit www.ascendcollection.com.

About Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels International, Inc. franchises approximately 6,200 hotels, representing more than 495,000 rooms, in the United States and more than 30 other countries and territories.  As of September 30, 2012, 360 hotels, representing 29,000 rooms, were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development in the United States.  Additionally, 75 hotels, representing approximately 7,000 rooms, were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development in more than 20 other countries and territories.  The company's Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands, as well as its Ascend Hotel Collection membership program, serve guests worldwide.

Additional corporate information may be found on the Choice Hotels International, Inc. website, which may be accessed at http://www.choicehotels.com/.

Choice Hotels, Choice Hotels International, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn and Ascend Hotel Collection are proprietary trademarks and service marks of Choice Hotels International.

© 2013 Choice Hotels International, Inc.  All rights reserved.

SOURCE Choice Hotels International, Inc.

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