Why Bring Fairfield Inn to China?

Fairfield Inn is the Marriott brand I understand the least. Bland and dumpy, often co-located with other Marriott brands such as Springhill Suites, and to my mind, generally overpriced to the market.

I thought they were exclusively US, though their official directory list some in Canada and a few in Mexico and India.

Now comes word to expand to China, where Marriott is well represented by 80 hotels across 9 of its brands, mostly higher-end.  They plan to build a pipeline of 140 properties with 100 opening by 2021.

Global Traveler quotes Marriott representatives:

Fairfield will focus on young consumers and business travelers looking for a comfortable and productive stay at a great value,” said Craig S. Smith, president and managing director, Marriott International Asia Pacific.

and

“Fairfield has quickly gained popularity in Asia since its introduction into the region two years ago, said Shruti Buckley, vice president and global brand manager, Fairfield by Marriott. “Guests enjoy the value of this contemporary brand, its intuitive design and great service culture that resonates so well in this part of the world.

None of this is like a Fairfield that I know. The website currently has a theme of ‘Work Well. Eat Well. Rest Well. Be Well.’ This looks nothing like Fairfields I have visited so maybe they are doing a wholesale revamp from beige to wood paneling. I certainly would not come up with that, or any, distinct brand identity if asked on the spot.

Fairfield Inn

And to think that 4 hotels in India say anything about a market other than South Asia is a stretch. India has a number of Carlson’s Country Inn & Suites which is from a family that owns many of their properties in the US and took the brand to India. The quirky dissonance of that brand in India I think works in a culture that takes tastes and diversity to an extreme variety.

My years living in China I enjoyed many of Fairfield’s presumptive domestic competitors, chiefly Jinjiang Star and HomeInn. Both have tile floors, for instance, which at that price point is much preferred over musty, smoky carpets.

Translating the Fairfield name into something appealing to Chinese will be a stretch. Echoes of fields and farms are not what the rising sophisticates hope to broadcast.

Maybe this will be a totally new Fairfield. The big hotel chains across the board step up their brands in Asia. The first time my wife saw a Marriott in the US, which had a lobby like a small bank, she said in disbelief, “This is a Marriott?” Her reference was grand lobbies at hotels such as Marriott Hongqiao Shanghai.

Rather than build out more appealing brands, the choice of Fairfield is puzzling. Must be some franchise/legal/financial reason or just self-deception.

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  • Cedric

    Interesting indeed…especially since the merger/acquisition of Starwood which has A LOT (271 to be exact) of properties in China including MANY Four Points branded hotels (61). Just mt 2 cents worth – I’d rather stay at a Four POints than a Farfield Inn !
    Starwood properties in China by brand:
    Westin (29)
    Sheraton (96)
    Four Points by Sheraton (61)
    W Hotels (10)
    Le Méridien (26)
    St. Regis (16)
    The Luxury Collection (9)
    Aloft Hotels (18)
    Element Hotels (6)

  • A C

    if Marriott can extend the brand into the secondary cities I think this will be GREAT for China. Gives people a dependable option at a (hopefully) fair price in a country where trust is a dubious concept.