We were in LA last week for the big Americas Lodging Investment Summit and ran into many DC’ers. Sam Spiritos is managing partner of 100-laywer Shulman Rogers, the Rockville-based firm with national practices in real estate and other areas. For those of you who attended our Tysons event last week, Sam’s the guy who introduced Foulger Pratt to NV Commercial, leading to the big transaction they announced there. The firm also represents owners like Kettler, Meridian and Choice Hotels. Another accomplishment: With kids at Dartmouth and Northwestern and his last one in his final years at Landon, Sam’s about to get more playing time at his beloved TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville.
Foxhall Partners co-founder Brian Friedman (right, with Almanac Realty Investors Justin Hakimian and Sydell Group's Matt Livian) is the local CBE developer investing in Sydell's development of a "Line Hotel” in Adams Morgan at 1780 Columbia Rd, the conversion of an historic church. He says it will feature 220 large rooms, “a ton” of F&B, gym, spa, meeting space and roof deck. Sydell developed the red-hot ACE and Nomad hotels in NYC, and Brian's firm previously bought the Carlyle at 1731 New Hampshire and the Savoy in Glover Park, among many assets around town. They start construction of the Line next month. The 110-year-old church, with 66 foot ceilings, will be used as 20k SF of lobby, restaurant and other public space. In other hospitality news, Brian took his 4-year-old to Mazza Gallery for his birthday last weekend to see Paddington, another traveler who could have used a good hotel.
You may think of Greenberg Traurig’s Nelson Migdal as a DC lawyer, but he’s in motion around the country. Evidence: Here he runs into a friend, John Keeling of Houston’s Valencia Group, and the other day he wrapped a project with Chicago’s Strategic Hotels in its acquisition of the Montage in Laguna Beach at a reported eye-popping price of $360M. Closer to home, he also just repped buyers of the Wyndham Baltimore, helping them on the acquisition of the property, their franchise agreement with the brand, and an arrangement with a new management company. Between frequent flier miles and hotel points, what a shame he doesn’t have time for vacay.
Congrats to longtime hotel builder/developer Jim Gosnell, who’s joined Brian Norris’ Cherry Cove Group in St. Mary’s County and has already jumped into working deals and financings for upcoming projects like a 107-key Home2 in Aberdeen (a new Hilton extended stay product) and a Hampton Inn on Eastern Avenue at the Johns Hopkins Baltimore campus. And congrats to Brian on having a great tour while in LA of Dodger Stadium, complete with meeting legends Orel Hershiser, Ron Cey and Eric Karros.
On the big stage, founders or CEOs of “disrupters” Virgin America, Liquid Space, Home Away (which owns VRBO) and Hotel Tonight were quizzed by CNBC’s Simon Hobbs. Not surprisingly, they portrayed themselves as being synergistic with hotels, not hostile to them.
John Silvia, chief economist of Wells Fargo, said this year is showing super strong trends in the hotel industry, but warned that RevPAR is peaking enough it could indicate midpoint in the cycle and a recession a couple of years away.
Monty Bennett, CEO of Ashford Hospitality, departing a bit from hotel issues, and talked of explosive tech capabilities that will render smartphones capable of human thinking within a matter of decades and wondering if many of us will be out of jobs.
David Kong, CEO of Best Western, commented on the irony that the Internet was supposed to rid the economy of middlemen, but that in the case of hospitality it has done the opposite. A full two-thirds of bookings, he said, now begin with search.
And the biggest attraction of the three day confab at LA Live: a blue sky and warm air.