Stonebridge Companies has a depth of sales and marketing talent at the corporate office that provides direct support to our hotels. We believe that our revenue growth year-after-year is enriched by their expertise and dedication to training, guiding, and elevating the performance of hotel associates.
We strategically plot our revenue growth at each hotel during annual planning sessions, with frequent measurements and discussions to track progress and adjust strategies as needed. Our goal is for every hotel to perform above-plan every month with the support of the sales and marketing team.
Our sales and marketing services include franchise marketing, brand marketing, selection and implementation of advertising and collateral (digital and traditional), developing annual business plans, backyard promotions, public relations, weekly and monthly reporting, training through our sales academy, and support with major accounts management.
Sal Aquilato, Vice President, Design and Construction
Bio Coming Soon
Trey O’Shields, Chief Financial Officer
Bio Coming Soon
Jason Gaede, Vice President of Capital Strategy
Bio Coming Soon
Judy Blattert, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Judy has over 25 years as a Sales & Marketing leader working in various leadership roles in full service and convention hotels, having served the last 15 years in a multi-unit VP role. Since joining Stonebridge in 2015, Judy has been responsible for overseeing the company’s sales training and development that support the entire portfolio of hotels. Judy oversees sales revenue strategies that include driving top line revenue, achieving defined growth and profit targets as well as meeting market share goals. Judy also oversees sales recruiting efforts, building the sales strategy, devising sales tactics and working with the support teams to ensure success.
Steve Johnson, Vice President of Information Technology
Steve Johnson joined Stonebridge Companies in June of 2016 as Vice President of Information technology. For the past 25 years Steve has worked in multiple technology positions in the hospitality industry; primarily focusing on restaurant hospitality. Most recently Steve was the senior director of information technology for Einstein Noah restaurant group which operates Einstein Brothers bagels among other brands. Steve has also held technology leadership roles in several restaurant companies along the front Range, including champs, Boston market , Village Inn and Quizno’s. Steve grew up along the front Range and attended college at the University of Colorado in Greeley Colorado.
Tommy Nigro, Vice President of Real Estate
Tommy Nigro is responsible for the coordination of all acquisition and development underwriting, the management of due diligence processes and the administration of asset management functions. Mr. Nigro joined Stonebridge Companies in 2006 as the firm’s Acquisition & Development Manager and, prior to that, worked as a Senior Associate at HVS International performing hotel appraisals, market studies and feasibility studies for a number of clients throughout the United States. Mr. Nigro graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas and spent several years working in hospitality operations before returning to school and obtaining an MBA from Denver University with a specialization in Hospitality Finance and Asset Management.
David Chin, Vice President of Information Technology
David Chin serves as VP of Information Technology at Stonebridge Companies where he provides overall leadership in all areas of technology and application systems. His responsibilities include managing the IT department, and ensure delivery excellence in current systems and technology operations. David is focused on implementing best practices in all current systems and IT functions, and acts as a visionary for future IT processes and initiatives. Mr. Chin has over nineteen years of IT experience, working in industries such as semiconductor, software, home building, and hospitality. Prior to joining Stonebridge Companies, Mr. Chin served eight years at Stanford Hotels Corporation in San Francisco as Director of IT. Mr. Chin holds bachelor degrees in Business Management, Human Resources Management, Management Information Systems and a MBA in Technology Management. He also has a current CHTP (Certified Hospitality Technology Professional) designation by the Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals Association.
Matt Friend, Vice President – Risk Management
Matt Friend serves as Vice President of Risk Management for Stonebridge Companies. He is responsible for minimizing risk to the company by leading the company’s risk management strategy, negotiating insurance programs, managing claims, implementing loss prevention programs and administering contract protocols. He has over 23 years experience in the hospitality industry, most recently serving almost nine years as Director of Risk Management for Red Robin International. Mr. Friend is Past President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) Board of Directors and is an Affiliate Faculty member at Regis University, College of Professional Studies in Denver, CO. Matt earned his Master’s of Science in Management from Regis University and his Senior Professional in Human Resource (SPHR) certification.
Scot Cameron, Vice President – Development and Construction
Scot CameronScot Cameron joined Stonebridge Companies in 2011 as its Vice President of Development and Construction providing an additional layer of oversight for the numerous, complex development projects under construction at any given time. Prior to joining Stonebridge, Mr. Cameron served multiple roles at Sage Hospitality, a privately held hospitality development and management company, from 2007 to 2011 focusing on project growth development, asset management, complex physical due diligence as well as strategic dispositions and finance while working closely with the Board of Directors. From 2000 to 2007, Mr. Cameron worked closely with the executive team coordinating the growth of Magnolia Hotels from one urban, historic hotel to four while overseeing the majority of construction, development and financing through many roles and most recent as Vice President of Development and Finance. He holds a B.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in Real Estate & Finance from the Graaskamp Center, and Marketing.
JB Bettinger, Vice President Human Resources
JB Bettinger is responsible for all aspects of Human Resources for Stonebridge Companies, and oversees talent acquisition, employee benefits (health plans and 401(k)), training, employee relations, labor relations, and federal/multi-state labor law compliance. JB brings to Stonebridge more than 25 years experience in leading human resources teams in the hospitality industry including lodging, retail, and food/beverage operations. Ms. Bettinger is an experienced HR business partner in both public and privately owned organizations, and is well-versed in organic growth, mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Bettinger holds a BS/BA in Business Administration, and an MBA in International Business from Regis University.
Rhonda Dye, Vice President – Hotel Operations
Rhonda joined Stonebridge Companies in 2013 and brings over 15 years of hospitality experience. Prior to joining the Stonebridge team, Rhonda spent ten years with Prism Hotels in a variety of roles including General Manager, Task Force & Transition Manager, Regional Director of Operations, and SVP of Operations. Rhonda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management, both from the University of Missouri.
Rhonda is originally from Cape Fair, Missouri. She is an avid runner, having completed several half marathons. She has 2 dogs and volunteers often with local animal rescues.
Jack Paul, Vice President – Hotel Operations
Jack joined Stonebridge Companies in 2014 and oversees Stonebridge Companies’ full, select and extended stay portfolio. Prior to joining Stonebridge Companies, he was Regional Director of Operations with Expotel Hospitality LLC and RFS Hotel Investors/Flagstone Hospitality. Jack’s professional career also includes multiple positions across many branded and boutique hotels where he specialized in underperforming and turn around assets. He has received General Manager of the Year honors several times throughout his career.
Jack began his career in restaurants while attending University of Florida and Palm Beach State College where he majored in Psychology. He is originally from Orlando, Florida and he and his wife have four children.
Jane Gomez, Vice President – Hotel Operations
Jane has over 20 years as a leader in all aspects of the hotel business and is a successful executive with the proven ability to manage change, implement systems and processes and exceed goals. Prior to joining Stonebridge, Jane strategically directed over 100 hotels on how to maximize revenue of pre-opening and newly opened/converted Marriott branded hotels (MHR, RHR, CFRST, AC, Autograph, and JW) in the Americas by assisting with sales, marketing and revenue strategies. She also led a team to Hotel of the Year honors from Marriott International.
Jane previously served on the board of the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association and currently serves on the board for Stand Up For Kids. She is originally from Stoneham, Massachusetts, located just outside of Boston and she and her husband have two fabulous children.
Sandra Esparza, Vice President – Hotel Operations
Sandra joined Stonebridge Companies in the 2007 and oversees Stonebridge Companies’ full service portfolio. Ms. Esparza has extensive experience in a number of markets, both branded and independent, including 4 and 5 diamond hotels and resorts. Prior to joining Stonebridge Companies, she was Vice President of Operations with Gemstone Hotels and Resorts and Shell Hospitality. Sandra’s professional career also includes several years with Hilton Corporation and ITT Sheraton/Starwood in multiple positions where she was a highly awarded hotelier and industry leader. Her industry experience began while attending Northeastern University in Boston where she majored in psychology, sociology and theatrical arts.
Scott McChesney, Senior Vice President – Acquisition and Development
Scott McChesney joined Stonebridge in 2008. As Senior Vice President of Acquisition and Development, Scott oversees hotel development, acquisitions, funding, and new business opportunities. Prior to joining Stonebridge, Mr. McChesney was Vice President of RD Olson Development where he was instrumental in growing the company into Southern California’s 20th largest developer in 2007. Mr. McChesney also worked with The Walt Disney Company where he was Director of Development/Acquisitions for their Imagineering division. He also spent one year in Disney’s Corporate Strategic Planning group. At the Pepsi-Cola Corporation/Taco Bell, he was Senior Manager of Development where he analyzed and approved or disapproved the development of proposed fast food sites, approving over $300 million in development capital. Mr. McChesney, who has two years of investment banking experience, holds an MBA from USC and a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University.
Randy Santulli, Senior Vice President – Hotel Operations
DSC_1453_ppRandy Santulli joined Stonebridge Companies in early 2006 where he serves as Senior Vice President-Hotel Operations. He is responsible for all aspects of the hotel portfolio including select-service, extended-stay, mid-scale and full-service hotels. Mr. Santulli has an extensive background in food and beverage operations and has successfully repositioned numerous high volume restaurant and catering operations throughout his career. Prior to joining Stonebridge, Mr. Santulli served with Remington Hotel Corporation as Divisional Vice President-Hotel Operations, where he was involved in over 45 hotel acquisitions. He previously served with Westbrooke Hospitality Corporation as Senior Vice President-Hotel Operations. Mr. Santulli holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America.
Howard Pollack, General Counsel
Howard Pollack joined Stonebridge Companies in late 2010 as its General Counsel. Mr. Pollack served as outside counsel to Stonebridge Companies for the past 15 years. He is responsible for managing all legal matters relating to acquisitions, financing, development, construction and general business and corporate matters. Prior to joining Stonebridge Companies, Mr. Pollack spent 17 years at the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck where he was a senior partner in the firm’s real estate group and co-chair of the firm’s hospitality group. He brings with him over 21 years of experience in all aspects of real estate law including acquisition, finance, development and disposition of all types of real estate assets. Mr. Pollack began his career as an associate in the real estate group at Richards, Layton & Finger in Wilmington, Delaware. Mr. Pollack graduated Magna Cum Laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 1991. He received his undergraduate degree in economics, with honors, from the University of Delaware. Mr. Pollack frequently lectures on real estate matters in Colorado and is a member of various boards and organizations including the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Colorado Outward Bound School.
David Womack, Chief Financial Officer
David Womack joined our company as Chief Financial Officer in January 2008. Prior to joining Stonebridge Companies, Mr. Womack served from August 2005 to November 2007 as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for Champps Entertainment, Inc., a publicly held restaurant company. He started with Champps in April 2002 as its Controller. From April 1997 until April 2002, Mr. Womack served in various capacities including Controller, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Executive Officer for the Wynkoop Brewing Company. From August 1985 until April 1997, Mr. Womack worked in various accounting capacities for VICORP Restaurants, Inc., including Controller. Mr. Womack received his CPA certificate in 1993 and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He received his B.S. degree in Finance from Colorado State University and M.S. degree from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Jim Luchars – Chief Investment Officer
Jim Luchars joined Stonebridge Companies in 2012. As Chief Investment Officer Jim oversees all new acquisition and development growth initiatives of the company. Prior to joining Stonebridge Jim was a Principal with AEW Capital Management in the firm’s opportunity fund group. In this capacity, he led AEW’s hospitality group with responsibility for investment origination and asset management for all hotel investments in North America. He was also responsible for office, retail, residential and industrial acquisitions in Chicago, Boston and Florida. Over the course of his tenure at AEW, Mr. Luchars was involved in over $3.0 billion in hotel and commercial real estate transactions in the United States and Europe. Mr. Luchars has over 17 years of real estate experience and six years of years of hotel operations experience. Prior to joining AEW Capital Management in 1996, he served as a senior consultant with the Ernst & Young Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group in New York City. He has also held various management positions within the hospitality industry. Mr. Luchars is a graduate of Connecticut College (B.S.) and Cornell University (M.P.S. in Hotel Management and Business).
Chris Manley, Chief Operations Officer
Chris Manley received his Masters in Professional Accounting and Bachelor’s from the University of Texas in Austin. Upon graduating, Chris received the highest score in the State of Colorado’s May 1993 CPA exam, and his score ranked within the top 100 in the nation.
Prior to joining Stonebridge, Chris spent fifteen years at The Pauls Corporation, a real estate investor developer across multiple asset classes. Chris was President of the real estate services company and Chief Financial Officer/Chief Accounting Officer for the entire organization. Prior to joining Pauls, Chris was a Vice President for ProLogis (NYSE: PLD), an industrial REIT, where he was responsible for the acquisition, development, and management of a 10.0msf industrial portfolio in Tennessee and a 5.0msf industrial portfolio in Florida.
Chris Manley grew up in Denver, Colorado. He and his wife have two children. Chris is currently serving on the board of trustees for JK Mullen High School and as a director of the Western Golf Association.
Navin C. Dimond
Navin C. Dimond, President and CEO
Navin Dimond is the founder of Stonebridge Companies. He serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, overseeing the company’s development and investment functions. Stonebridge Companies has experienced substantial, positive growth. Mr. Dimond is the recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the Hotelier of the Year Award from the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association and the prestigious Hilton Hotels Multi-brand Developer of the Year Award. In 2013 Stonebridge Companies received the coveted Marriott Partnership Circle Award, granted to Franchisees for their excellence and commitment to growth as well as dedication to their associates and guests. In 2007, Mr. Dimond received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Real Estate and Hospitality category for the Rocky Mountain Region.
As a result of his expertise and proven track record, Mr. Dimond serves in an advisory role for a wide variety of organizations. Currently, Navin serves on the Franchise Advisory Council for Hampton Inn Hotels by Hilton and Marriott’s Residence Inn Advisory Board (TRIA Board). Navin has been involved with the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association (CH&LA) for many years, serving as Chairman in 2003. In 2008 Navin was inducted into the CH&LA Hall of Fame. Mr. Dimond serves on the Washington State University College of Engineering and Architecture Executive Leadership Board, Cornell University’s Dean’s Advisory Board for the School of Hotel Administration and the Daniels College of Business Executive Advisory Board at the University of Denver.
Involvement in the local community is important to Mr. Dimond. Currently he serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Denver and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, Navin serves on the Foundation Board of the Metropolitan State College of Denver and is a Board Member of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau (VISIT DENVER), serving as its Chairman in 2016.
Mr. Dimond is a graduate of Washington State University where he earned his B.A. in Business Administration and his B.S. in Construction Management. He earned his MBA in Real Estate and Construction Management from the University of Denver.
Navin C. Dimond, who founded Stonebridge Companies 25 years ago, serves as its president and CEO, overseeing the company’s development and investment functions from its Denver, Colo., headquarters. He says the positive growth of the company, which now employs nearly 3,000 associates and owns and/or operates over 50 hotels nationwide, is to a great extent due to its staff-supported hospitality culture and a commitment to service. “Our hotels remain true to our culture of delivering ‘Distinguished Hospitality.’ We have a team of enthusiastic people who create a respectful and enjoyable work atmosphere, and come in every day focused and ready to provide unparalleled service to our guests.”
How did you get your start in the hotel industry?
I consider myself an “accidental hotelier.” It was not by design. I initially founded Stonebridge Companies to own and operate a shopping center in Arvada, Colo. At the time, I was less interested in the hotel industry and more interested in other types of real estate, like office, retail, and warehouse. But when an opportunity came in 1991 to purchase the Bronco Inn motel, I was intrigued by the property’s potential. Charting unknown territory came with its set of adversities and risk, but I was dedicated and driven. In the beginning, my wife and I did much of the work ourselves, which gave me a better appreciation for the industry and associates. From that point forward, the company grew in both properties and staff.
What are the benefits of modular building, and how might it meet the needs of the hospitality industry?
Labor shortages and pricing are driving alternative forms of delivery, which is where modular building can be a potential solution, especially in urban locations. While the current pricing is not necessarily less expensive than traditional construction, there are significant benefits in both a shortened construction time and increased construction quality. We ourselves recently used modular building methods for a Courtyard Marriott located on the campus of Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, Wash. In addition, as part of a research and development project for Stonebridge, we engaged construction management and hospitality and business management students from WSU to test the hypothesis that modular construction is a viable technique for future hotel construction. We challenged these students and faculty to come to their own conclusions on the cost-benefit analysis of the long-term viability of modular construction in the hospitality industry, and I was very proud to have students from my alma mater participate in the project.
What are some challenges you’ve encountered when growing staff and how are they best managed?
Stonebridge is always looking for associates who have a genuine passion for both hospitality and creating memorable experiences for our guests. In companies with a growth trajectory like Stonebridge, managing an expanding team is a top priority. Growth within our company presents unique opportunities for existing associates to take the next leap in their career development.
Is your leadership team mostly home grown?
One of the four tenets of our mission statement is “careers,” with a focus on team member development. Stonebridge’s best leaders are constantly spending time mentoring fellow associates to help them achieve the next phase of their career. Our human resource initiatives are focused on personal and professional growth. They include continuous training, competitive benefits and compensation, rewards for performance, and celebrating successes at every level.
What do you like best about working in the hotel industry?
We are an industry that achieves success from the positive energy generated through people serving people. Whether it’s our leadership team or our associates, there has been a dedication in Stonebridge Companies to provide our unique “Distinguished
Hospitality” to our guests for 25 years.
The Boston economy continues to prosper with low unemployment and continued job growth. This has fueled positive hotel performance with a record occupancy of 76.5% achieved in 2015. The Great Recession of 2008/2009 seems like a distant memory as we are more than halfway through our 8th year of the economic recovery. According to Smith Travel Research, the Boston MSA ranks 5th in top 25 hotel markets in the United States in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) behind New York, San Francisco, Oahu and Miami and the market commands the fourth highest Average Daily Rate (ADR) in the country. While these statistics are impressive and it has been a very strong run for the city, 2016 was the first “hiccup” year with RevPAR down year over year 0.6%. 2017 has been stronger with positive RevPAR growth of 2.4% through June YTD, but for the first time in many years room supply growth (3.1%) is outpacing room demand growth (2.8%). One of the factors that has elongated the run in Boston is extremely high barriers for new construction driven by high construction and land costs, a tight labor market, and a challenging permitting environment. Despite all of this, the 2017 numbers reflect a trend of supply growth catching up with demand growth and this means there will be winners and losers in the fight for room nights. Many submarkets have not had supply additions for ten or more years and, in cases where demand growth is limited, new product usually steals market share.
In suburban Boston, the Residence Inn in Needham is a perfect example of a new product (opened in August of 2013) that is undoubtedly stealing market share and occupancy from older, dated competition in Dedham and Waltham. Several other new hotels are under construction in Needham and Waltham and they are all Hilton or Marriott select service brands (Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn and Homewood Suites) that have a very competitive operating model – limited food and beverage outlets and meeting space but offer free breakfast and new, very high quality room product. In the case of the Residence Inn Needham, most of the competition is thirty plus years old and it is an easy decision for the customer to choose “new” vs “tired and dated.” Even older properties that have been renovated to stay competitive underperform versus new product. Functional design challenges such as low ceiling heights, small bathrooms and inadequate HVAC systems cannot be changed. The hotel brand companies, particularly Hilton and Marriott, continue to push up the quality level of all of their select service brands that they franchise to developers. The late 80’s/early 90’s Hampton Inn or Courtyard by Marriott bears no resemblance to the current prototype for these brands. This new room product is competitive with any older full service Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt, and today’s customer has less need for a hotel restaurant and other amenities, particularly in an urban setting. In fact, a high quality fitness area is more important. The majority of millennials and Gen Y travelers are looking to explore the neighborhood they are visiting and dining at a hotel is usually not a preferred option. The shifting of market share from old to new is all part of the cyclical progression in the hotel business. In an up market, supply can be easily absorbed, however, in a flattening or down market, the new, “fittest” properties will greatly outperform and the oldest competitors will lose substantial market share. The Route 128 corridor is not the only sub-market that is experiencing supply growth and shifting of market share. Brookline, Cambridge, Watertown, Medford and Chelsea have all had recent hotel openings, most of which have been very successful.
Another subset of new supply that the hotel companies are pushing is “lifestyle” product that targets specific demographics and promotes creating unique experiences for the customer. Marriott has spear-headed the launch of the Spanish brand AC Hotel in the US positioning the design as European modernism and promoting a unique “lifestyle” experience. There are now two AC Hotels open in Cambridge and Medford and two more under construction in Boston and Brookline. The look and feel of the product is very upscale with a sleek, urban design and customer feedback has been very positive. More of this type of lifestyle product is coming and will steal market share from older, tired properties.
The last category of new supply entering the Boston market is micro hotels. Citzen M, Pod, Yotel and Moxy (backed by Marriott) are all relatively new micro hotel brands. A Yotel is under construction in Boston in the Seaport District and a Moxy is in planning for downtown. The prototype room in a Moxy Hotel is only 180 square feet, compared to 280 to 300 square feet for a typical Marriott or Hilton select service product. This allows a developer to fit up to 40% more room inventory in the same allowable square footage. The micro hotel rooms are very small with the emphasis on the bed and bathroom with very limited work space or furniture. The brands are primarily targeting millennials promoting style, design and an active bar scene. Each arriving guest is offered a free signature cocktail when you check into a Moxy. The jury is out on how successful the micro hotel brands will be but they are already very successful and competitive in New York City.
Whether traditional, lifestyle or micro, new supply in Boston is very real and, as market growth abates, the “fittest” will outperform.
Jim Luchars is chief investment officer for Stonebridge Companies, a hotel development and operating company. Prior to joining Stonebridge, Luchars was a principal at AEW Capital Management overseeing all hotel investments. Luchars has over 25 years of experience in the hotel business and commercial real estate.
Founded in 1991 by Navin Dimond, Stonebridge is a privately owned, innovative hotel development and hospitality management company. They manage a portfolio of 45 hotels across the United States, and provide investor opportunities, hotel development services, hotel management services, and hospitality career opportunities to our partners and associates. Currently, their hotel portfolio is comprised of 7,000 guest rooms across multiple select-service, extended stay, mid-scale, and full-service hotel brands located in primary and secondary markets.
Originally appeared in HOTELS‘ in July/August, 2017
HOTELS has been ranking the world’s biggest hotel companies since 1971, when the “Service World International 100” was led by Holiday Inns Inc. and its 1,293 hotels and 182,513 guest rooms – the biggest hotel chain in the world and a US$1 billion company. ITT Sheraton Corp. of America followed with 225 hotels and 59,600 rooms. These trailblazers were just starting to conquer the world.
Today, globalization rules and the conquerors are not yet satisfied. The mantra remains size equals leverage, and leverage means everything to marketshare. Marriott International has broken the 1 million room barrier for the first time in industry history and has its sights set still higher as multiple competitors, including Hilton and several emerging from China, nipping at their heels.
Best of all, the rankings on the following pages are a sign of a healthy industry prepared to reach for more as travel continues to grow.
For now, enjoy the list based on data as of December 31, 2016.
Stonebridge Companies ranked 164, up from 211 the previous year, with the addition of six new hotels to the portfolio.
By: Jeff Weinstein
Originally appeared in Perkins School for the Blind in July, 2017
Public school student Natacha learns housekeeping skills at the Residence Inn through the Perkins World of Work program
As the industrial washers and dryers whir behind her, 21-year-old Natacha is hard at work. She pulls sheets, pillowcases and towels out of the dryer bin, carefully folding each one and placing it in the appropriate stack.
For Natacha, learning to do this work now means she’ll have the skills she needs to gain meaningful employment in the future.
“Most high school kids who don’t have visual impairments can say, ‘I had a summer job once,’” said Perkins Job Developer Karen McCormack. Students who are blind also need work experience, including “social skills and traveling skills, so they can be active and engaged in the community.”
During the five-week program, students live on campus and commute to their workplaces each day. Natacha, who has low vision as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited retinal degeneration disorder, takes the bus independently to the Residence Inn down the street in Watertown, Massachusetts.
“Perkins found us the perfect candidate,” said Residence Inn General Manager Sharad Chand. “She’s cheerful, she’s engaging, she communicates well with the team. She’s done a tremendous job.”
Natacha works with the housekeeping staff, learning to load and wash different linens at the appropriate temperatures, as well as folding everything that comes out of the dryer. She also cleans guests’ rooms after they leave, stripping the beds, removing towels and emptying the trash.
Val O’Brien, the director of housekeeping, admitted she was nervous in the beginning about working with an intern who was visually impaired. But “I’m relaxed now. I can leave her alone and I know she’s able to do it.”
To get the position at the Residence Inn, Natacha had to go through a formal process. She filled out an online application and collected and submitted her I-9 documentation, which was a good experience, said McCormack. “It’s very much what anyone going to work would have to do.”
As the weeks progressed, Natacha gained more confidence in completing her tasks – to the point where her daily check-ins with Perkins job coaches felt like interruptions.
“She’s happiest when the Perkins supports fade and the people who work here are doing the training,” McCormack said. “She’s very proud to work here.”
Chand is thrilled to hear that. Since the Residence Inn opened last year, he’s been working to make the location as accessible as possible to people who are visually impaired. There’s braille throughout the property, which was tested by Perkins students. The Residence Inn also joined the Perkins-Business Partnership, an alliance dedicated to breaking down employment barriers for people who are blind.
“We want to make sure this relationship is lasting,” said Chand, who sees opportunities for students to shadow employees at the front desk, as well as train with food and beverage services. “I feel it’s going to be very meaningful for years to come.”
By: Karen Shih
The brand new Courtyard Pullman opened July 25th, 2017! Courtyard Pullman was the first Courtyard by Marriott® to built using modular construction, a unique form of construction that involves on-site and off-site construction to speed up construction time. Located on campus, this hotel is one of two Pullman hotels located right on Washington State University‘s campus in Pullman. This Pullman hotel offers a wide range of amenities, including The Bistro®, which offers refreshing breakfast choices in the morning, and a variety of dinner, beer and wine options in the evening. The Bistro also offers specialty beverages made with Starbucks® coffee, available all day.
Accommodations include 122 spacious king and double queen guestrooms that combine comfort and functionality. Connect to free internet throughout the hotel and flexible spaces where you can work or relax. At the center of it all is The Bistro, your destination for a great breakfast, or drinks and dinner during the evening. Meeting space is plentiful, with three breakout rooms and one executive boardroom, totaling over 3,500 square feet of flexible space for your needs. Our fitness center ensures your routine won’t fall by the wayside during your stay. At Courtyard, we’ll make sure you thrive during your stay.
Pullman, WA – July 19, 2017 – Courtyard by Marriott Pullman is scheduled to open its doors in Pullman, Washington on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Featuring an innovative lobby space as well as Courtyard’s latest contemporary room design, the new hotel provides flexibility and choices that allow guests to optimize and elevate their travel experience.
Located at 1295 NE North Fairway Road, on the campus of Washington State University, the 122-room hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise, owned and managed by Stonebridge Companies. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, guests of the Courtyard Pullman will have convenient access to Washington State University’s Martin Stadium, Palouse Ridge Golf Course and the University of Idaho.
Courtyard constantly researches trends in order to meet the changing needs of its guests. The latest room design offers hybrid zones for working, sleeping, relaxing and preparing for the day. Other additions include indirect lighting and a neutral, tone-on-tone color palette, which makes for a soothing and calm environment.
“From day one, Courtyard has prided itself as a brand that listens to business travelers,” said Callette Nielsen, vice president and global brand manager, Courtyard. “Today’s technology has changed how people travel. Our guests want a room that has purpose and flexibility that enables a seamless transition between relaxing and working. Courtyard is designed to offer them a relaxing and functional space to work the way they want to, when they want to.”
“We are pleased to own and manage Courtyard by Marriott Pullman,” said Navin C. Dimond, founder, president and CEO of Stonebridge Companies. “We have a strong relationship with both Marriott and Washington State University, and we know that this hotel will stay true to our Distinguished Hospitality™ brand as we continue to provide modern comfort and convenience to our guests.”
The new room design is intuitive and thoughtful, offering flexible yet comfortable spaces that enable technology. Upon arrival, guests can store bags on the “luggage drop” and charge personal devices into the “tech drop” ledge for seamless technology integration.
Signature furniture and architectural elements replace traditional art in the new guestroom. The “LoungeAround” sofa offers a pop of color and a comfortable area for relaxing or for working. The new design also features a light desk on wheels, allowing guests to work from anywhere in the room.
An upgraded, more spacious layout creates an enhanced bathroom experience. A “Shower Nook” housing shampoos and towels, makes amenities accessible without having to leave the shower.
The Courtyard Pullman also offers the Refreshing Business lobby environment, where guests can enjoy an open and bright area outside of their rooms. Along with media pods, complimentary Wi-Fi and a variety of seating zones, the redefined space is ideal for everything from pop-up meetings to social gatherings. The lobby also features The Bistro – Eat. Drink. Connect®, offering casual, flexible seating; easy access to food and high quality, healthy menu options for breakfast; and light evening fare, including snacks, cocktails, wine and beer so guests can unwind.
Throughout the hotel, guests can connect with ample electrical outlets. The business library features several computer terminals, along with a printer and separate computer stations dedicated solely to printing airline boarding passes and checking flight status.
Green has been Courtyard’s signature color since Marriott launched the brand 30 years ago. Now it is even greener with the introduction of a guest recycling program for the environment. Receptacles for paper, glass, plastic and metal are conveniently located by side exits.
The four-story hotel features an outdoor hot tub, fitness center and guest laundry, and offers four meeting rooms with 3,266 square feet of meeting space.
Originally appeared in Hotel News Now in July, 2017
TORONTO—Cycle dynamics shouldn’t change how a revenue manager approaches operations at a hotel.
That was the message from a panel of revenue-management executives who sat down with Hotel News Now during HSMAI’s recent Revenue Optimization Conference.
Sources said the discipline didn’t exactly follow that advice in 2009.
“We failed miserably in the last cycle,” said Dev Koushik, VP of global revenue optimization for InterContinental Hotels Group. “Hopefully, when the next one comes, we can show (our expertise). … The science we’re applying should be able to survive any cycle, but only the next time will tell.”
Koushik defined “failure” as significant drops in rates and the lack of any semblance of rate integrity.
But Chris Cheney, VP of revenue management for Stonebridge Companies, said maintaining that integrity can be easier said than done in bad times.
“Market forces are powerful things,” he said. “If there’s not demand, people go searching for it, and if they can’t find it, they try to buy it.”
Cheney said the way to counteract that impulse will be to focus on “maintaining the value proposition of the hotel” and remembering its “amenities and services mean something.”
“We have to make sure we’re selling a service and not just quoting a price,” he said.
Jamie Pena, VP of revenue strategy and global distribution for Omni Hotels & Resorts, said she doesn’t see the hotel industry going over a cliff any time soon.
“I don’t see a decline, but the trick is to hold rate,” she said.
She noted one of the biggest threats at the moment is the industry talking itself into a recession.
“We self-fulfill that story,” Pena said. “For us, it’s about keeping the positive chatter going with revenue teams. Group pace looks good, and the industry looks good.”
Some have been surprised by the ongoing strength of hotel demand in the U.S., but Cheney said that shouldn’t be surprising if looked at from a market perspective.
“Generally, at the market level there are specific reasons (for demand growth). Travel is more accessible to more people than ever in human history,” he said. “There are emerging classes in other parts of the world … and there are certain markets that impact more directly than others.”
Geoffrey Field, VP of revenue management for Shaner Hotels, noted there can be supply issues even in high-demand markets.
“That’s what determines the cycle, in my opinion,” he said. “You get more investment in those markets, then 90% occupancy is down to 80%, and some are struggling to keep that 90%.”
Challenges for 2018
The experts at the roundtable shared some of their expected headwinds for revenue managers in 2018.
Koushik projected “anemic rate growth,” and Sloan Dean, SVP of revenue optimization and underwriting for Ashford Inc., said he expects worse than that in some markets.
“There could be negative (revenue per available room) in several markets,” he said. “There is going to be several key markets that are problematic in 2018.”
Lori Kiel, chief revenue and marketing officer for the Kessler Collection, and Cheney both pointed to issues around keeping the human element in revenue management.
“For me, it’s about data and analytics,” Kiel said. “If you don’t have a process behind it, it’s going to suck the life out of revenue management, and you’ll end up with analysis paralysis.”
Cheney said the issue will be not overemphasizing automated revenue-management systems.
“We’re trying to control robots rather than them controlling us. … We need revenue managers to maintain the artistry and help systems understand new things and not just go off history,” he said.
Field said the key will be leveraging automation to improve the work of human revenue managers.
“We need to get revenue managers to be more analytical and look further out,” he said. “That will be critical in achieving (average daily rate).”
By: Sean McCracken
Originally appeared in Hotel News Now in July, 2017
TORONTO—Hotel companies—like most businesses—are always looking for new ways to make money.
In addition to driving rate and capturing more room demand, many hoteliers, revenue managers in particular, are considering charging for different amenities and features at a hotel, some of which have long been viewed as free.
Revenue-management executives who sat down and spoke with Hotel News Now at HSMAI’s recent Revenue Optimization Conference said this is a process that holds potential but hoteliers need to be thoughtful about their approach.
“I had this conversation with a brand just two weeks ago,” said Sloan Dean, SVP of revenue optimization and underwriting at Ashford Inc. “It comes down to how you evolve in merchandising and making money off something that is free now and is an offer without being seen as nickel-and-diming. It’s a delicate dance, and if something’s changing, there has to be a way to market and merchandise it so that it comes across to the customer’s benefit.”
Chris Cheney, VP of revenue management for Stonebridge Companies, said he feels like the shift to a more airline-like model is inevitable, but the hotel industry isn’t inclined to be at the forefront.
“I think it’s something the industry will get to, but I think it’s going to be a much easier conversation with guests if it’s done in scale first,” he said. “The airlines are leading the way, and it’s sort of an expectation in the travel industry that this is a thing.”
He said it’s likely hotels would go the route of stripping out amenities and then providing guests a lower basic rate. Ultimately, though, it will come down to the brands, not owners or operators, to roll this out.
“We’ll let them take the lead and follow where this goes,” Cheney said.
A matter of consumer choice
Dean noted that could be a matter of presenting guests with a greater array of options, treating the hotel experience as more of an a la carte than an all-you-can-eat buffet.
“A lot of owners want a more restrictive cancellation policy, so maybe you offer a cheaper rate to somebody with a heavy cancellation policy,” he said. “I know there’s already advance purchase, but you can provide more optionality, and you can let the customer drive the price differential.”
Dev Koushik, VP of global revenue optimization for InterContinental Hotels Group, said he views the transition as a matter of responding to consumers’ needs.
“Customization is happening as we speak,” he said.
He noted that means measuring how much money is made per guest beyond just revenue per available room.
“That’s what I’m seeing in the future, and in this scenario that includes pricing merchandising and rate for a specific customer,” Koushik said.
He said that practice can’t be identical at every hotel and type of hotel, and the transition will require a significant amount of work not just from revenue managers but from sales and marketing teams to strike the right balance.
“It will be different in each segment, but we haven’t been through the implications (of that),” he said. “It’s going to take some time to understand it all, but it’s definitely happening now.”
Jamie Pena, VP of revenue strategy and global distribution at Omni Hotels & Resorts, said she is skeptical about how it would come together for luxury hotels, but there are always opportunities for new revenue streams.
“The key when you say unbundling is, to me, that doesn’t feel like luxury or full service,” she said. “But we’ve had success selling late check-out.”
She said that’s an example of a somewhat niche offering that is still useful because it’s highly profitable even with a small portion of guests taking up the offer.
“The opportunity to me is finding other things that provide piece of mind or guest value (even if) only select people will find (them) purchase-worthy,” she said.
Pena said hotel companies could reserve them for guests who book direct or through loyalty programs.
“Now you have a reason to book direct because there are extra things you can buy like late check-out or you can request things like food-and-beverage amenities for when you arrive,” she said.
By: Sean McCracken
Originally appeared in Hotel News Now in July, 2017
TORONTO—For a long time in the hotel industry, the expectation has been that revenue management reports to sales and marketing.
But that structure is less and less the expectation, according to a group of U.S.-based revenue-management executives who spoke with Hotel News Now at HSMAI’s Revenue Optimization Conference.
The executives said it seems like the industry is doing more now to elevate the role and importance of revenue management.
Lori Kiel, chief revenue and marketing officer for the Kessler Collection, said her company has gone with a different reporting structure entirely.
Revenue management “isn’t behind the scenes at Kessler. We’re on the front lines,” she said. “I oversee all of revenue, sales and marketing. I don’t know any other organizations that are there yet, but at Kessler, it’s always been revenue above sales and marketing. It’s all one strategy with one vision. You start with revenue management to create that strategy.”
Geoffrey Field, VP of revenue management for Shaner Hotels, said one of the reasons it doesn’t make sense to have revenue management operate as a function of sales is those two sides aren’t always completely in line when it comes to their objectives.
“A lot of more in-depth decision-making or pricing recommendations have been evolving and becoming more important,” he said. “And as that’s become more important for the discipline, there would be clashes with sales’ goals. That’s basically a core reason for elevating (revenue management) to a leadership role.”
Jamie Pena, VP of revenue strategy and global distribution for Omni Hotels & Resorts, said it’s important to note that both sides of that equation perform important, albeit different, functions for a company or a hotel. She said her company has sales, revenue and marketing work together to highlight each area’s strengths.
“Revenue management is like a scientist, while marketing and group sales are artists,” she said. “They’re going to creatively figure out what’s needed for the business.”
Field said one of the difficulties remaining for revenue management, at least from a management company’s perspective, is explaining to less experienced owners its importance compared to those other functions.
“We talk to a lot of owners on new properties or new constructions that this might be their first endeavor into the hotel industry,” he said. “When we’re explaining the costs for sales and marketing and then say, ‘Revenue management is going to cost this,’ they ask what revenue management is. Then it’s like, ‘Here we go again.’”
A voice in the C-suite
Sloan Dean, SVP of revenue optimization and underwriting for Ashford Inc., said the importance of revenue management has grown to the point that it should be reflected in the senior leadership of every hotel company.
“Growing up in revenue management, I was sensitive not to get pigeonholed,” he said. “I had seen it happen to some of my mentors, and there were limited opportunities in that capacity. But I’ve evolved my thinking on the subject. I think there needs to be a strict (chief revenue officer) that reports to the CEO with a revenue management background. Every organization needs the equivalent of a chief commercial officer that needs to have an analytical, data-centric mind.”
Dev Koushik, VP of global revenue optimization for InterContinental Hotels Group, said he doesn’t think the person in the chief commercial officer role needs to be a trained revenue manager, but that person should be able to understand the work.
“As long as they’re analytically minded … they should be fine,” he said. “They don’t necessarily have to be a revenue-management person.”
Dean agreed that past revenue-management experience isn’t an absolute requirement for a chief commercial officer, but the two have similar skill sets.
“How they grew up doesn’t matter as much as the core of the person,” he said. “They need an applied economics-type mind with a high level of curiosity and good leadership. I think it’s natural for revenue managers to be those people.”
Koushik pointed out that his company now has a CEO that prioritizes revenue management, with the ascension of Keith Barr.
Originally appeared in Hotel Online in June, 2017
DENVER – June 28, 2017 – The Jacquard, a hotel slated to open early 2018 within Denver’s fashionable Cherry Creek North neighborhood, today announces the appointment of Jason Dorfman as general manager. Dorfman will lead the new Autograph Collection hotel, owned and operated by Denver-based Stonebridge Companies, upon its opening.
Holding a B.S. in Business Administration from The Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver, Dorfman brings an impressive track record in hospitality experience to The Jacquard. Over the years, he has worked at many other prominent hotels in Colorado and beyond. He returns to Colorado after most recently serving as general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton San Francisco Airport North where he was awarded Stonebridge Companies’ highest honor, The President’s Award for General Manager of the Year.
Dorfman has spent more than half of his career with Stonebridge Companies, beginning as a revenue manager in 2006. While holding this position he was nominated as Outstanding Revenue Manager of the Year by Marriott International. Beyond the prestigious awards he has garnered, Jason has been responsible for leading various hotels he has managed to increased guest satisfaction scores, market share growth and overall property success.
“I am thrilled to come home to Denver as the opening general manager of The Jacquard,” said Dorfman. “It has been such a pleasure to be part of the Stonebridge Companies family over the years, and I look forward to providing our valued guests with a luxurious and bespoke experience when The Jacquard officially opens doors.”
Once open, The Jacquard promises to be a sophisticated, intriguing and vibrant gathering place for both locals and travelers. Under Jason’s direction, the staff will strive to deliver upon the brand promise of Haute Happiness– delighting each guest with a stylish collection of custom-fit experiences that create an irresistible palette of alluring elegance and spirted celebration. For the latest details and information on The Jacquard, visit TheJacquard.com or follow @TheJacquard on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.