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Red Lion will get its name back

DoubleTree revives hotel name

The complimentary chocolate-chip cookies are going, but an old name is returning to downtown Medford's largest hotel.

The DoubleTree Hotel, which was converted from a Red Lion Inn two years ago, will again be a Red Lion by late September, the hotel's parent company announced Wednesday. It opened as a Red Lion in 1968.

It's a little confusing maybe, but we are going to bring back a brand that is 40 years old, said Jim Dina, chief operating officer of Red Lion Hotels and Inns. I couldn't be more elated about it. It's a great brand.

Other than the sign and the cookies, Dina said little will change at the Medford hotel -- one of nine former Red Lions being converted back to the brand. Red Lion's popular frequent guest program and frequent flier airline point system will be returning.

Todd Thoreson, general manager of the 186-room Medford hotel, welcomes the name change -- the second in his tenure there.

Quite frankly, Red Lion had very strong name recognition, he said. Going back to Red Lion is a very easy thing for us to do. A lot of people still refer to us as the Red Lion.

The latest name change, like the first one, is tied to consolidation in the hotel industry.

When DoubleTree Hotels bought out Red Lion in late 1996, it changed 40 of the 69 Red Lions to DoubleTrees -- including Medford's -- to establish DoubleTree's name in the Northwest and strengthen it nationwide.

Things changed a year later when national powerhouse Promus Hotel Corp. merged with DoubleTree. Promus owns 1,400 hotels nationwide under a variety of brand names including Homewood Suites, Hampton Inns, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree Hotels and 19 Red Lions that were never converted to DoubleTrees.

Dina said Promus wanted to distinguish the smaller two- and three-star DoubleTrees -- like Medford's -- from larger four-star ones -- like the Jantzen Beach DoubleTree in Portland. The idea is to give travelers a clearer picture of what to expect from each brand. So rather than launch a new name for the smaller DoubleTrees, the company opted to take advantage of Red Lion's name recognition and convert the nine hotels back.

We own the best recognized brand name in the Northwest and its roots really go back to the two-and three-star level, said Dina.