With a diverse portfolio of full- and select-service properties in both urban and rural destinations, Connecticut-based New Castle Hotels & Resorts has been a strong presence in the lodging industry for 35 years, managing its hotels through expertise in development, operations and proven methods in raising profitability. Tasked with managing—and growing—New Castle’s portfolio, President and COO Gerry Chase speaks to the company’s 2016 goals.
Can you explain the importance of thought leadership? Thought leadership is part of our culture and trust. It is making sure you consider all of the dots that are to be connected throughout the operations, management, and development process. Most decisions are not composed of a single element, and the result oftentimes has multiple outcomes.
What is New Castle’s strategy in helping its properties come to those management decisions? The first thing is the culture we have. Our main culture traits are loyalty, trust, and respect, so we make sure every person we hire and every property we help also has those traits. Our second strategy is utilizing our extremely skilled and seasoned employees, most with over 15 years in the business. But we also have great continuous training and make sure our employees have great opportunities for the future.
What role do you see New Castle and other management companies playing within the lodging industry? Even though we are a mid-sized company, we are playing a pretty big part. Most of our executives are VP disciplines who are highly skilled and have been trained in multiple flags and participate in the brands. They are on several advisory boards, including food and beverage, sales and marketing, and e-commerce. I also sit on a number of the flags’ advisory boards to make sure we not only understand the brands and what is going on within the industry but also to offer our insight based on our experiences to try to make them better. We have a strong belief that you really have to be engaged in the industry in order to be aware of your surroundings and be able to participate in the improvement.
Your portfolio currently spans 11 states and three Canadian provinces. Where is New Castle headed next? Right now we have a little over a dozen projects in the pipeline. We are focusing on the southeast; we started last year with the Westin on Jekyll Island—one of the only new full-service hotels built last year. We also have two other projects we are getting ready to kick off down there. New Castle still has new projects in Canada, especially in the Atlantic Province area. We also have an exciting acquisition that we will be announcing soon.
How do you deliver a personalized experience? It really starts with your investors and your lenders. You need to have a conversation and good relationship with them. We have multiple deals with most of our investment groups, and they want to do more with us because of their experience with New Castle. It’s not just a financial statement that gets sent out each month, it’s very much a personal relationship. As far as the property itself, that’s the difference between a cookie-cutter hotel and being first or second in the market, which we pride ourselves in being.