Hotel Owner Is Trading Name of One Historical Castle for Another

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(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. hotel company is giving up the name of one European castle and taking on another.

Ashford Hospitality Prime Inc., a hotel real estate investment trust named for a medieval castle in County Mayo, Ireland, said on Monday that it would change its name to Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc., after a castle built in the late middle ages in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The change was conceived of as part of a strategic shift to high-end hotels, Chief Executive Officer Richard Stockton said in an interview. Last year, the company put some less-luxurious properties up for sale and rebranded others, including Courtyard by Marriott hotels in San Francisco and Philadelphia. It also acquired ritzy properties, including Hotel Yountville Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, California, and the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Stockton is betting on the strongest part of the U.S. hotel market, at a time when stock-market gains and tax reform have boosted consumer confidence and fueled strong performance at luxury hotels aimed at leisure travelers. Revenue per available room at U.S. resort hotels rose 5.4 percent last month compared with a year earlier, according to lodging-data provider STR. Across all U.S. hotels, revpar, a measure of occupancy and rates, increased 3.9 percent.

The Braemar castle was built for a royal family “to protect land, but also appointed as a luxury residence,” said Stockton, whose company will begin trading under the new ticker BHR on Tuesday. “We thought that was very similar to Ashford’s strategy -- focusing on the luxury segment and also being a stronghold. We’ll be a protector of shareholder value.”

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