The Missouri hotel company that owns the largest hotel in Northwest Arkansas has filed for bankruptcy protection, with assets and debts each more than $1 billion, according to court filings.
John Q. Hammons Hotels Development LLC of Springfield filed for Chapter 11 protection over the weekend in a Kansas City, Missouri, federal court.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news Sunday evening. Among the hotels Hammons owns, according to its website, is the Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas, at 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway in Rogers. The property, which opened in May 2003, expanded to its current inventory of 400 rooms in July 2007 with the opening of the 152-room spa tower, built to accommodate the adjacent John Q. Hammons Convention Center.
Hammons, whose portfolio includes 35 hotels in 16 states, also owns Arkansas properties in Fort Smith and Hot Springs.
The hotel company was founded by the late John Q. Hammons, who died in May 2013 at the age of 94.
The Springfield News-Leader reported Monday a half dozen entities with “John Q. Hammons” in the name filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday, and documents pertaining to those filings list more than 70 associated entities seeking relief.
The associated entities appear to include the various hotels managed by the Springfield-based company, as well as affiliated catering operations.
The filing, according to the News-Leader, happened just before a trial was supposed to start later this month to decide whether the company must sell its properties.
Those legal difficulties, according to the News-Leader, date back to a 2005 agreement, in which Hammons agreed to sell the JQH’s portfolio of 43 publicly-owned hotels, believing that his trust would ultimately receive more than $335 million.
JQH senior vice president and general counsel Gregg Groves said in a Monday morning news conference the trust never received that money.
“This is really just a strategic move,” said David Lang, general manager of the Embassy Suites in Rogers for 12 years. “Frankly, it has been pretty contentious between the two sides, and this is just another move in the game, I guess. It’s certainly not a financial issue. All this does is pump the brakes on the litigation, and this is the game plan our attorneys thought was in our best interests.”
Lang, who has worked for JQH Hotels for 22 years, said the company is in “great financial shape” overall and stressed there wouldn’t be any disruption to day-to-day operations at the hotel.
“Customers won’t notice a thing; it’s business as usual here 110 percent,” he said.