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Why 3 Real Estate Founders Keep Coming Back To This Annual Miami Retreat

Escape attendees share a family-style dinner at the Betsy Hotel in Miami

If you scan the crowd at most commercial real estate events, you are likely to find a gaggle of upstarts, eager to hand you their business cards, but you may not actually see many firms’ decision-makers. Many of these leaders might have attended once, but now hang back to avoid the crush of small talk and service providers.

But one event keeps real estate’s founders coming back year after year. 

Escape, a yearly retreat at the plush 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami, brings together some of the most influential developers, owners and investors in the country for two days of dealmaking, reflection and relaxation.

Curated small-group “tribe sessions” offer a chance for attendees to delve deeper into their business and personal development and to learn from their peers, forging tighter bonds than any other conference in real estate. Meanwhile, elegant meals and wine tastings are paired with group activities and talks featuring distinguished authors, psychologists and technologists.

Apply here to attend Escape 2020, April 20-22 at the 1 Hotel South Beach

Hear from three founders and CEOs about why every year finds them back at Bisnow’s Escape in Miami.

Gil Tenzer, Co-Founder & Head of Real Estate, Contrarian Capital Management

A 31-year veteran of the real estate industry, Gil Tenzer is a founding member of Contrarian Capital and the portfolio manager of the firm’s real estate fund series. 

Why do you keep coming back to Escape?

Escape consistently delivers a highly curated fun environment to hang out with other senior real estate industry executives and catch up with people I’ve known for a long time as well as establish new relationships. 

In many ways, it’s the antithesis of the traditional daylong suit-and-tie series of panels in a windowless conference facility in a Midtown hotel. 

Content is delivered in “TED Talk” format with short, high-energy presentations with interesting topics, punctuated with breaks for fun non-real estate activities. Without a doubt my favorite conference to attend.

What is the biggest deal you've made at Escape? 

We recently closed on a three office building acquisition that was sourced by a local operating partner whom I met a couple of years ago at Escape and have made a run at a couple of prior deals as well. The relaxed atmosphere and social activities make for a much better environment to meet new business contacts than a 15-minute coffee break at traditional conferences.


Peter Borzak, CEO, Pine Tree

Peter Borzak leads Pine Tree, which he co-founded in 1995, and oversees $3B of assets, largely in the retail sector, which the firm has acquired, developed or manages on behalf of institutional clients.

Why do you keep coming back to Escape? 

Escape brings together some of the most important national decision-makers in CRE in a way that fosters real relationship building. I sign up automatically every year.

What is the biggest deal, agreement or relationship you've made at Escape? 

I’ve met many large institutional investors at Escape with whom I was able to connect on a much different level outside the boardroom.


Jeremy Kaufman, CEO, Kaufman Jacobs

Since becoming the CEO of Kaufman Jacobs in 2002, Jeremy Kaufman has concluded the acquisition and finance of 4.3M SF of real estate, worth an estimated $850M.

Why do you keep coming back to Escape?

Escape is by far the best business conference I’ve attended. The programming is top-notch, at turns fascinating, compelling, informative and thoroughly entertaining. The attendees are all seasoned principals and the format encourages lots of interaction. You’d have to try hard not to meet dozens of new and interesting people. The overall experience is engaging, stimulating and super fun. 

Request an invite to Escape 2020, April 20-22, at the 1 Hotel South Beach.