Going from no assets to more than $2 billion in lodging assets in less than five years is a feat that requires a high level of experience in the industry and keeping a close eye on operating fundamentals. “It comes back to our overall understanding of the lodging marketplace and our hotel operations experience, which has been fine-tuned over the past couple of decades,” Chesapeake Lodging Trust’s President and CEO Jim Francis explains. “When we look at a hotel’s historical positioning and operating performance, we know how to evaluate the asset’s business needs and deploy repositioning techniques to drive a quality guest experience with an effective operating model.”

We do it without even thinking twice — toss the keys to the one of the most expensive things we own to a total stranger in exchange for a piece of paper. There’s a social trust that all valet companies must maintain in order for the business model to work.

Valets must provide that trust to the car owners, of course, but also to the hospitality companies that hire them to provide this service to their customers. After all, hotels, restaurants and the like are not in the valet business, so they rely on companies that specialize in it.

Five years ago, a new luxury resort opened on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in California, offering guests a new way to enjoy the oceanfront property that has attracted tourists and investors for more than a century. Covering 102 acres, the Terranea Resort is part of the Destination Hotels & Resorts family, opening in 2009 as the only luxury oceanfront resort in the Los Angeles area. 

“Terranea is a land unto itself,” the resort says. “When you step onto our 102-acre private peninsula paradise, it’s like stepping into a whole new world – minutes from the bustle of Los Angeles. On three sides, you’re surrounded by the tranquil waves of the Pacific and across the channel is Catalina Island. The coastal setting of Terranea embraces its Mediterranean heritage and incorporates it into its architecture. From the resort lobby and outdoor gardens to private terraces and inviting courtyards with outdoor fireplaces, our carefully tended Southern California family resort continues to evolve naturally over time.”

When Roedel Cos. LLC sets out to build a new hotel, it has the luxury of doing the majority of the project “in-house,” Partner David Roedel says. “The only thing we have to go out of house for is architecture. We have a group of people that flat-out understand the hotel business.”

Wilton, N.H.-based Roedel Cos. specializes in the development, acquisition, construction, repositioning and recapitalization of hotels.

Roedel’s family has a long legacy in the hotel industry. His father, Senior Advisor Fred B. Roedel, founded his own hotel brand, Chalet Susse International Inc., in 1967. After building a chain of 36 locations, the elder Roedel chose to create a new company, and started Roedel Cos. with his sons, David Roedel and Fred B. Roedel III.

R.A. Rauch & Associates has the job of operating hotels down to “a science,” owner Robert Rauch says. “We understand the art of great hospitality service with our mantra of ‘wow’ customer service.”

San Diego-based R.A. Rauch offers hospitality management services to hotel and resort owners, developers, lenders and investors. A longtime veteran of the lodging industry, Rauch founded the company in 1990 after working for many hotel brands, including Embassy Suites.

When Rauch started his own company, he initially provided consulting services. After a few years, “My wife said, ‘Why are you making so much money for everybody else?’” he recalls. “We [then] bought a hotel.”

Icons don’t become icons by standing still. When the original Palmer House hotel in downtown Chicago succumbed to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 not even two weeks after its grand opening, its owner resolved to replace the hotel with an even grander structure. The seven-story hotel that replaced it in 1873 hosted Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Ulysses S. Grant, among others, before it was replaced by an even grander 25-story building in 1925. In the intervening years, Palmer House has become a landmark in Chicago and one of the crown jewels in the Hilton family of hotels. As the nation’s longest continually operating hotel, Palmer House is an icon because it has always sought to change with the times, and General Manager Dean Lane says that continues to be the case today. 

The original Palmer House was a wedding gift from business magnate Potter Palmer to his wife, Bertha, who set about making over the rebuilt hotel to reflect her French heritage and her friendship with artist Claude Monet. The centerpiece of these efforts was the lobby’s ceiling fresco, painted in 1925 by French artist Louis Pierre Rigal. Another constant presence through the decades has been the hotel’s Tiffany brass peacock doors, which were saved from a C.D. Peacock jewelry store that used to be on the hotel’s ground floor. 

There is a lot to see in the United Kingdom, and since 2010, tourism has been the fastest-growing sector in the UK in terms of employment, according to a report from Deloitte. In fact, by 2025, the UK is expected to have a tourism industry worth more than $431 billion. And with 45 properties, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts should make quite a large contribution to that total. 

Macdonald operates 45 luxury hotels in Scotland, North England, the Lakes region, the Midlands and Wales, and London and South England, making it the UK’s largest privately owned hotel group. It uses its properties to showcase the special charms of their particular areas, offering luxury wherever guests travel.

Lafrance Hospitality Co. is a New England-based hotel and restaurant company that provides expertise in hotel and restaurant management and development. “Our specialty is providing good old-fashioned hospitality and treating every guest as if you’d welcomed them into your home,” CEO Richard Lafrance emphasizes. “We make a point of recognizing every guest and every transaction with them. We’ve always looked at it as everyone is equally important to us.”

Established in 1955 as a nine-stool diner in Fall River, Mass., the company has expanded its portfolio to New Hampshire and Maine and includes eight hotels, three fine-dining establishments, two function facilities and a catering company.

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