Managing Editor, Lodging
Lodging Managing Editor Megan Sullivan knew it was important to think logically, but hotels star...
Executives Share 2013 Growth Plans at ALIS
1/25/2013 | 'Lodgical' Thoughts
At the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles this week, we met with owners, developers, investors, lenders, management company executives, and other industry leaders to see what plans they had in store for 2013. Here are just a few highlights from our conversations:
Bank on It
The transformation of the 1926 Dearborn Bank Building in Chicago into Virgin Hotels’ debut property is on track to wrap up in the first quarter of 2014. Raul Leal, CEO of North America for Virgin Hotels, says he’s excited about the smart and functional design of the 250-room lifestyle hotel, which will feature clever spaces, both underground and on the rooftop, and will exude a fun and cheeky personality. Virgin plans to hire all talent locally rather than export from other cities. Leal says the company hopes to grow the brand in primary and secondary markets, both domestic and international, and there are at least two more in the works. The enthusiasm for the brand is palpable, and Leal believes Virgin is on pace to meet its goal of 20 hotels in 10 years.
Loews Hotels announced its focus on growth with the appointment of Paul Whetsell as its new CEO a year ago, and the company is certainly following through on its commitment. Troy Furbay, EVP of acquisitions and development, says Loews is interested in quality four- and five-star full-service hotel assets and portfolios and intends to double in size in the next two to three years. This month alone, the company announced that it entered agreements to purchase the 225-room Back Bay Hotel in Boston and the iconic 356-room Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., and will open a new property in Chicago. The Loews Chicago, slated to open in January 2015, will feature 400 guestrooms, a restaurant, and more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel will be part of a 52-story tower that also includes 390 luxury residential apartments. Loews is also developing a 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach Hotel, its fourth resort at Universal Orlando, set to open in 2014. Furbay says Hawaii, Seattle, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Toronto, London, and Paris are on the wish list as the team continues to expand the Loews pipeline.
Growing Green Hotels
Hotel developer, owner, and operator Concord Hospitality also is stepping up its growth strategy for 2013. Mark Laport, president and CEO, ticks off a long list of projects that Concord has committed to, with eight currently under construction. Its pipeline of 17 LEED-designed hotels include two Cambria Suites projects in New York and one in Washington, D.C. Laport says it’s a no-brainer to develop sustainable properties. While it may cost $200,000 more to build a LEED hotel, he says it only takes about three years to see a pay back. It also has the potential to boost RevPAR by shifting share away from competitor hotels that may not have green initiatives. Concord’s openings include a 153-room Courtyard by Marriott in Cleveland, a 136-room Hyatt House in Pittsburgh, and a 137-room Hyatt House near Concord’s Raleigh, N.C., headquarters. In total, Concord intends to open six hotels and break ground on 10 this year. The company also has plans to boost acquisition activity and third-party management contracts.
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