Howard Johnson Landmark: Vol. V No. 4 March 1985, p. 1

Motor Lodge of the Future Past...Concept '85

Segmentation of the hospitality industry took off in the early 1980s with a host of lodging choices meant to appeal to contemporary travelers, but the Howard Johnson Company was slow to respond and devised its Concept '85 plan too late in the game to reinvent itself. In retrospect the Concept '85 scheme appears to have been a viable contender, yet was apparently much borrowed from Marriott's initial Courtyard concept as well as the pre-Marriott version of Residence Inn.

Introduced to employees in the March 1985 Howard Johnson Landmark, the design was said to employ a "Residential look ideally suited for suburban sites near airports and highways and close to hospitals, office and industrial parks," and it was hoped that "the new lodging choice would give the company an opportunity to attract new customers." Company officials said that it "will expand Howard Johnson's leadership role in mid-priced accommodations and provide greater marketing impact." Long-time Company man Arthur Barrett even went so far as to predict that "this product will be the Howard Johnson lodge of the next decade." Plans were drawn up so that each region of the United States would feature properties with a blend of "local architecture ...stucco facing in the South, wood for New England, brick in the Mid-Atlantic or Midwest and adobe in the Southeast." Each property was to consist of "two-story structures that offer 120 to 140 guest rooms. Restaurant and lounge facilities will seat a total of 90 and will accommodate room guests rather than serve as a stand-alone business." CHK Associates of Silver Springs Md was the concept architect, and the Company planned to have prototype located near Boston area.

Time ran out for Howard Johnson's in November of 1985 after its parent, Imperial Group PLC of the UK, sold the Company for less than half of what it had paid for it just five years earlier. Buyer Marriott immediately sliced and diced Howard Johnson's up into many pieces with former HoJo franchisee Prime Motor Inns holding the brand name and what had been its Motor Lodge division.

Hotel & Resort Industry: November 1987, Vol. 10 No. 11, p. 40
Larry Passaro
Huntsville-Airport, Alabama -- 8721 Madison Blvd (Hwy 20)

Prime Motor Inns initially appeared to have embraced its role as Howard Johnson's owner, but it was quickly revealed that the former franchise operator was quite ill-suited to carry on the Orange Roof legacy of success. Management miscalculated that it could sell off all of the Company owned Motor Lodges and franchise them as well as encourage owners of existing motels to become its franchisees--via conversions of sub-par properties in order to pay the bills. But more, Prime placed great emphasis on Concept '85 which had been qualified as Park Square Inn by the time of its accession to the Orange Roofed throne.

Prime's propaganda described the new concept thusly:

The Howard Johnson Park Square Inn is an exciting new concept in lodging hospitality. With a beautiful landscape and residential-style architecture, Park Square Inn may well become the new standard by which all other hotels are judged. Typical characteristics of Park Square Inn are its "residential" architecture with an interior courtyard for your enjoyment, casual restaurant and lounge, swimming pool, exercise room and sauna. Experience Park Square Inn. A whole new hotel experience. provides a relaxing atmosphere while you are traveling for business or pleasure. Each Park Square Inn has an outdoor courtyard (surrounded by the building on all sides), casual restaurant and lounge and swimming pool. Experience Park Square Inn, a new development in Howard Johnson lodging service.

Huntsville's second Howard Johnson's location was planned prior to the demise of the Company and was to be the prototype which would exemplify revival of the chain. By the time it was opened Howard Johnson's itself had ceased to exist and the location was held up as a model of things to come by the Company's inept and soon to be bankrupt successor, Prime. In the end, only three Park Square Inns were opened. The other two units (Orlando and Ocala, Florida) did not follow the Company's Concept '85 ideal and were more like brazen copies of Marriott's Courtyard and since both of the sites so resembled Marriott properties both were converted into Courtyard by Marriott hotels by the late 1990s.

Howard Johnson Directory: January -- June 1988 cover
Prime Motor Inns, Inc. 1986 Annual Report: p. 11-12
Larry Passaro
The once highly touted savior of the chain, the Huntsville Howard Johnson Park Square Inn, faded into oblivion like HoJo itself and in 1997 became a Radisson Inn.
Howard Johnson Directory: July -- December 1988 p. 3

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