Innisfree Hotels has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with many of the world’s most recognized hotel brands – including Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Worldwide Brands, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Choice Hotels, Best Western Hotels, and Wyndham. Yet it has never had the opportunity to own or manage a Marriott hotel.

Until now.

In November 2015, Innisfree was approved for its first Marriott franchise for a 200-room Springhill Suites the company is developing in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Marriott is one of the world’s premier franchise companies, a global leading lodging company with more than 4,200 properties in 79 countries and territories. Marriott International, Inc. reported revenues of nearly $14 billion in the fiscal year 2014. Founded by J. Willard and Alice Marriott and guided by family leadership for nearly 90 years, the company is headquartered in Bethesda, Md.

“The process started with an evaluation of the site and a look at the other hotels that are in the market or under development,” says Rich Chism, director of development for Innisfree. “We quickly pinpointed Springhill Suites as one of a few potential brands that would be economical to build and operate, but that would provide an amazing guest experience.”

Chism says he and his team worked for almost 18 months to get the Panama City Beach property under contract.

“We needed a brand that was in the select service segment and that would provide us the flexibility to design a beachfront hotel and modify their prototypical room requirements accordingly,” Chism continues. “Marriott was very accommodating and flexible through months of design consultation.”

After basic business terms were agreed upon, Innisfree CEO and Founder, Julian MacQueen traveled to Marriott headquarters, along with Chism and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Thomas. Here, the trio learned more about Marriott and met the team who would provide franchise support to Innisfree’s development and operations team.

Just one week later, Innisfree Hotels learned that Marriott had officially approved its franchise agreement request.

The 200-room Springhill Suites will offer a lazy river pool, indoor and outdoor bars, garage parking, Gulf front balconies and a dune walkover with direct beach access.

Innisfree hopes this first franchise will herald future growth for the company.

As Chism reports, “Once Innisfree Hotels becomes an ‘approved Marriott operator,’ it opens up many opportunities for us to manage other owners’ Marriott properties as third-party managers.”