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DiamondRock Hospitality Names New CEO In C-Suite Shake-Up

The Westin Boston Seaport District hotel, owned by DiamondRock Hospitality.

A C-suite shake-up at a major hospitality REIT is seeing its founder and CEO vacate his post and its executive team shrink by two members.

DiamondRock Hospitality Co. announced Monday that founder and CEO Mark Brugger is leaving the company and being replaced by current Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Donnelly. The company didn't give a reason for Brugger’s departure.

Prior to establishing DiamondRock in 2004 with now-Chairman William McCarten, Brugger was a former executive with Marriott International. He helped to usher DiamondRock through its IPO a year later and took over as CEO for McCarten in 2008, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Donnelly joined DiamondRock in 2019 after a 22-year stint at Wells Fargo Securities, where he co-founded its real estate and lodging equity research platform and helped usher more than $45B in equity transactions. 

DiamondRock Treasurer Briony Quinn has been tapped to replace Donnelly as CFO while continuing as treasurer, according to the release. Justin Leonard, the current chief operating officer, will maintain his role but also become president, taking over responsibilities from Chief Investment Officer Troy Furbay, who is leaving the company as well.

“The Board believes now is the right time to implement these changes and establish a simpler executive structure that more closely aligns with the needs of the business," McCarten said in a press release. "[Donnelly] is the ideal person to serve as CEO having demonstrated outstanding leadership and a keen understanding of our portfolio and strategy since joining the Company in 2019.”

Along with the planned retirement of General Counsel Bill Tennis at the end of June, DiamondRock has reduced its C-suite from six to four members, although the firm plans to replace Tennis, the WBJ reported.

"I am excited to be CEO at the dawn of a new era for travel," Donnelly said in the release. "With our high-quality portfolio of unique lifestyle properties, we are poised to capitalize on the long-term secular demand drivers in the travel industry and deliver sustainable, profitable growth."

DiamondRock owns a portfolio of 36 luxury and upper-scale hotels and resorts across the U.S., including the 220-room Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, the 436-room Westin San Diego, the 410-room Westin Washington, D.C. City Center, the 1,200-room Chicago Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel and the 793-room Westin Boston Seaport District. More than 60% of DiamondRock’s profits come from urban-area hotels, the company said in its annual report. 

The company posted nearly $1.1B in revenues in 2023, a 7.3% increase from a year earlier, according to its annual report. While its average daily room rate shrank 2.4% in 2023, both its occupancy and revenue per available room increased, by 3.8% and 2.9%, respectively.