4Q4: Patrick Colee, Noble House

Noble House Hotels & Resorts is a privately held hotel ownership and management company in business for more than 30 years. With a philosophy that emphasizes “location, distinction and soul,” the Seattle, Wash., based company owns and manages boutique hotels and resorts spanning the four coastal corners of America, including the newly refurbished Riviera Palm Springs in California, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in the Florida Keys, The Edgewater in Seattle, and Hotel Viking in Newport, R.I. It also recently added the Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Lodging Editor Len Vermillion recently talked about the company’s growth plans with Founder and Chairman Patrick Colee.

1. Len Vermillion: You’ve recently added Pelican Grand Beach Resort. What does this addition mean for Noble House and how does it complement your portfolio? Also, what plans do you have for the resort?

Patrick Colee: We’re going to be remodeling it next winter. Then, the following year, we are going to be adding meeting space to it and a spa. We took on this property because if you know Fort Lauderdale at all you know that most of the hotels are across the street from the beach. Well, we are right on the beach. It’s a wonderful building with very large rooms. When we are finished remodeling it, we’ll have an upgraded pool, upgraded restaurants, the meeting space, and the spa. We don’t believe anyone will be able to compete with us there.

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2. LV: You have plans to add more properties. Can you say anything about those?

PC: Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to talk about the ones that we are working on right now. Our goal is to expand into areas such as New York, Washington, D.C, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Those are the areas we are focusing on. Plus, we’ve been trying to get a hotel for a long time in South Beach.

One of the things about our properties in Florida is they have performed very well. The Watercolor Inn in Santa Rosa Beach is the number one family resort in Florida by Travel & Leisure. LaPlaya in Naples is the number one golf resort in Florida. Little Palm Island [Florida Keys] is the number one resort in Florida. Now we believe our hotel in Fort Lauderdale will be number one. We are ultimately trying to find the number one hotel in South Beach. That’s a little harder to do. We’d be happy if we can be top three there.

3. LV: How do you think the resort sector is performing compared to other sectors?

PC: They’re all up significantly. The Florida hotels are up in excess of 20 percent. We are having good growth. We believe we’ll be able to grow real fast. We never intended to be a brand, though. One of the advantages we have is that we have a restaurateur’s attitude toward food and beverage and we make a profit in our spas. Because we have actual restaurateurs running food and beverage we’ve been able to have higher margins than probably most people who are dealing with the high-end.

4. LV: You’re known for emphasizing ‘location, distinction and soul.’ Can you explain?

PC: All we’ve ever done is go into properties where we can own the market—be number one or two. We’ve always said we want to be the living room of the local community. We try to take an attitude of not being another box. We want a location and concept that reflects the history and culture—the food—of the community.

When you stay at one of our hotels you have an experience that represents that community. All of our hotels are totally different. We like to think they represent the character of the community.