The original Motel 6 in Santa Barbara. The chain has made appearances in… (Christopher Reynolds/Los…)
Motel 6 and Studio 6, the no-frills budget hotel chains that once offered rooms for $6 a night, are being sold by French parent Accor for $1.9 billion.
The new owner, an affiliate of private equity firm Blackstone Group, already owns Hilton Worldwide. Blackstone said it plans to "accelerate the expansion of the franchise base" for Motel 6 and Studio 6.
Accor will use proceeds from the sale to slash its debt and grow its luxury Sofitel and Novotel hotels in Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Motel 6 has struggled in recent years, trying to revamp its aesthetics and amenities but failing to perform as well as Accor's other brands. The chain has been featured occasionally in popular culture, making appearances in a Yo La Tengo song, a Stephen King book and a "Simpsons" episode.
The hospitality industry is gradually recovering from the recession, when travel dropped significantly and occupancy levels in hotels slumped to their lowest levels since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More Americans plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend — but many will be following a budget, according to a survey last week from Deloitte.
Last year, a record number of foreign visitors boosted overall tourism spending in the U.S. to $1.2 trillion, an 8.1% increase.