Jin Jiang-Thayer venture launches Marvel brand

SHANGHAI JT Realty Advisors, the joint venture fund of Jin Jiang Hotels and Thayer Lodging Group, is developing a 3-star business-class hotel brand to be called Marvel, HOTELS has learned.

The prototype is open and running in Shanghai, and another seven are in the pipeline, according to Thayer Co-Chairman and CEO Leland Pillsbury. “We expect to have a very rapidly growing business very quickly,” Pillsbury says.

Asked if there will be additional brand announcements through the fund, Pillsbury would only say: “With 228 brands in the U.S. as a comparison, I think you can see where China is going over the next 15 to 20 years with 200,000 new hotels coming. China won’t build 200,000 hotels with three brands.”

Pillsbury predicts multiple brands will emerge in China and, just as it did in the United States, the business will become a distribution game. “Jin Jiang with its large base starts out as the leader, and the challenge for them and us as their partner is that they stay the leader,” Pillsbury says.

The JT Realty Advisors fund will own the Marvel brand, with much of the development coming through leases, which is a faster speed to market model, Pillsbury says. He hopes the joint venture can take existing lodging assets as well as underutilized commercial buildings and quickly convert them to Marvel-branded hotels.

“The best comparison [for Marvel] is the Holiday Inn brand in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” Pillsbury says. “We have to recognize that China does not have a well-developed freestanding restaurant industry, and that domestic travelers want, need and expect foodservice in the hotel. They want a good price point and we have to recognize the role that technology and reservation systems play.”