While at the 33rd annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference this week, I had the chance to meet with several industry executives who expressed optimistic outlooks for the future.
B Hotels & Resorts announced on Monday its yet-to-be named second property, which is a conversion of the Continental Oceanfront South Beach Hotel in Miami, Fla. The property is expected to remain operational during the renovation and repositioning and is scheduled to launch in late fall 2012 as part of the B Hotels & Resorts family. The designer will be announced in the next four to six weeks, said Chris Tompkins, corporate vice president for B Hotels. “I think what differentiates us the most is, it’s not about what… it’s about how,” Tompkins said. “At B, our brand is about how you as an individual traveler want your experience to be.”
Also announced that day was RSR Hospitality’s acquisition of a significant ownership stake in Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, to capitalize on the rebound in the hospitality industry. The new relationship with RSR, which is comprised of the Related Group, Silverpeak Real Estate Partners, and River Birch Capital, brings real estate investment and financial expertise to Gemstone’s management platform. “Now we’ve opened up a whole new way to do business for Gemstone,” said Jeff McIntyre, Gemstone principal, adding that the owner-oriented culture of the company will not be compromised. Gemstone will continue to focus on the 3.5 star to luxury segments in the United States and selectively evaluate opportunities beyond domestic borders.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants made public Monday that it has taken over management of Hotel La Jolla in San Diego, Calif. CEO Mike Depatie said in the last 15 months, Kimpton has added five hotels to its portfolio. This includes the Hotel Monaco Baltimore, which the company already managed but recently took over ownership. Current projects in the works include two properties under development, one in the Lafayette Building in Philadelphia that is slated to launch September 2012 and the other a ground-up construction project the company is managing for a developer in Phoenix that will deliver some time next year. Depatie said the company also has about $73 million left to invest in a fund with a target of $202 million it’s raising for college endowments.
Other news announced a few days prior to the conference includes Benchmark Hospitality International’s acquisition of MTM Luxury Lodging. The acquisition brings four existing managed properties into Benchmark Hospitality’s portfolio and an additional property soon to begin construction. These five hotels will join eight other properties operated by Benchmark to form a new brand within luxury hospitality called the Personal Luxury Collection. “Our intent is to try and create the kind of product that will also be profitable for the owners and create an opportunity for them to gain value on their real estate,” said Burt Cabañas, chairman and chief executive officer of Benchmark.
Resort industry veteran Richard Holtzman joined Pyramid Hotel Group to lead its new initiative, Pyramid Resort Group, as senior vice president of resort operations. “We perceive a continued need on the part of resort owners to bring greater value, to bring greater effectiveness to the management of their hotels,” Holtzman said. Currently the new division has 15 resorts, which represents about 9,000 rooms. Its focus is on the continental U.S., Hawaii, and the Caribbean, and Holtzman expects to have announcements on new resorts in the coming weeks.
Portman Holdings conveyed that as the industry emerges from the recession, it has widened its business model to include all types of real estate investment, such as acquisitions, repositioning, and redevelopments. Roger Zampell, senior vice president of development, said domestically it continues to keep an eye on public-private partnership hotel projects. The company is on the short list for a mixed-use project on the West Coast (which doesn’t involve a hotel), is investing in mid-market housing in India, and is working on developing residential projects in tier-one and tier-two cities in China. “We’ve got a significant pipeline in both investment and development,” said Charles Pinkham III, vice president of development.
— Megan Sullivan, Managing Editor, Lodging