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1969 (as Econo-Travel)|
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
|Founder||Vernon Myers and Lloyd Tarbutton|
Econo Lodge is an economy motel chain based in the United States and Canada. Econo Lodge is the second-largest brand in the Choice Hotels system. It aims to provide affordable rooms to budget travelers. The properties contain a minimum of 40 guest rooms and are often located near highways or highway access. All hotels provide a free breakfast. While most of the properties are conversions, Choice Hotels plans to add more new-construction properties to the Econo Lodge brand.
As of December 2013, there are 830 Econo Lodge hotels open in the United States and 28 under development. Internationally, there are a further 84 hotels open and four under development. There are Econo Lodge motels in every US state and Canadian province.
The idea was begun by Norfolk, Virginia developer Vernon Myers and his son, Vernon Jr. in 1969 as Econo-Travel and they were joined by Lloyd Tarbutton, a local businessman.
Tarbutton still took on the project, finding investors and money, as well as doing extensive market research, to see if the concept would work. The chain's mascot in the early days was "Sandy", a girl in a short Scotch skirt and tam. The first hotel, still operating at 865 North Military Highway in Norfolk, was built for $275,000. Its daily rate for rooms was $7 single, $9 double, and $11 for four.
Tarbutton sold the chain, which had 306 locations, in 1983 for $836 million. He had begun to change the name on all locations to Econo Lodge in the latter 1970s. The brand went through ups and downs and a number of owners after the founders sold out. It fell into the hands of investor Paul Wallace, whose fund bought the brand, refurbished it, mended relations with franchisees, and then sold it to what is now Choice Hotels International in 1990. It is the more upscale of the group's economy brands; its sister brand, Rodeway Inn, typically has fewer amenities.
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