The soon-to-open Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami was already going to be noteworthy as it is part of the tallest building east of the Mississippi—with the exception of New York City—but that’s not the only milestone for the hotel. The 85-story property is expected to represent the 100th hotel in the portfolio of Raleigh, NC-based Concord Hospitality Enterprises when it opens next month.
But the 32-year-old owner/operator and developer of hotels is clearly not stopping there. According to Concord Hospitality President and CEO Mark Laport, the downtown Miami hotel is one of 14 new properties the company expects to open in 2018.
He elaborated on what reaching the century mark means internally. “The fact that we are growing and continue upon a rather aggressive growth path has created a lot of excitement. Of course growth is exciting to our associates and it helps us expand our company in terms of attracting human capital that really drives our success in a way that I think is significant. Everybody wants to be part of something that is going in the right direction,” he said.
Laport pointed out he may not have had 100 hotels in his sights when he started the company in 1985, but he did have lofty goals. “My view was not so much a number that we would operate, or how many associates we would have, or how many keys in our portfolio. My view was always to grow a company and to grow it in a logical, if not aggressive way, and attract like-minded people to help me grow it and to see where it would go,” he commented.
Laport reinforced that the company is far from done expanding. “For sure I see growth on a continuum. Now that we’re at a 100, it’s not at all like ‘we got there we’re not going to do this anymore.’ We’re going to keep doing this but thoughtfully,” he stressed.
The CEO did acknowledge there are some challenges associated with such expansion. “You have some logistical growth pains an ongoing basis, but we’ve become more efficient, especially at the management company level,” he insisted.
Laport also pointed out how the portfolio has evolved over the years from smaller limited-service hotels to more urban, larger lifestyle hotels. “Our growth continues to go kind of up the food chain,” he said.
As an example, he noted the company will open three AC Hotels by Marriott this year. In addition, development plans include several full-service Marriott brands, such as the Autograph Collection, Renaissance and a full-service Marriott. Laport, however, was quick to emphasize that limited–service properties remain very much part of the company’s strategy. “Those are our bread and butter and we love doing those deals,” he said, adding they make up the majority of the portfolio and “in all likelihood it will remain that way for years to come.”
Laport went on to tout the quality of the overall collection. “If you look at all our hotels in our portfolio, you see a consistency about them being fresh or fresher, great brands in a lot of markets that would also signify there’s no dogs in this portfolio. This is a company that has really a consistency about quality and that’s helped us develop the culture that’s so important to me and all the leadership team and I think all of the well over 4,000 associates,” he commented.
The company has ownership in roughly 40 percent of the current portfolio with the remainder being third-party contracts. Laport did indicate the number of assets with some percentage of equity is likely to increase going forward pointing out that only two of the 14 properties the company is opening this year are straight third-party management.
In fact, one of those 14 properties is the Cambria Hotel & Suites Phoenix Chandler – Fashion Center, which just opened last week in Phoenix across the street from the Chandler Fashion Mall. “It’s a beautiful new hotel…a great location with millions upon millions of square feet of office and technology space just within a short drive,” he said.
The property helps the company bolster its portfolio out west, which Laport acknowledged is one of his objectives, “We’re looking for opportunities.”
Meanwhile, back on the East Coast the company recently broke ground on a project for 2019 as well with the dual-branded Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn in Woburn, MA, just outside of the Boston area. Concord is the lead developer and will manage the 235-room property, which is slated to be completed in late 2019.
“It’s a great project; it’s unique in that it’s the first new hotel in the Woburn area for a number of years,” said Laport, who also pointed out that it’s the first Homewood/Hampton that is being developed with a shared lobby.
Laport acknowledged the movement toward consolidation that’s been taking place throughout all levels of hospitality but noted it’s business as usual for Concord. “It’s been market changing from a management standpoint. We get calls ‘would we consider merging or being acquired?’ The answer is no. What we do I think is well respected in the industry so we continue to grow organically where others like to grow inorganically,” stated Laport.
He further emphasized the company’s long-term approach as well as a succession plan. “Our view is how do we sustain it and in doing that part of my job this year is to continue to grow my leadership staff for succession. I would prefer quite the opposite of being acquired by someday leaving that legacy to the folks that helped to make this company so successful. We are actually working on early plans as to how over time that folks that have worked with me for years will be taking a larger and larger role,” Laport concluded.