FAIRFAX, VA—Crestline Hotels & Resorts has seen its portfolio grow over the past few years—much of which can be attributed to its long-standing reputation, leadership team, and best practices and methodologies, the company’s top executive believes.
“When you ask about the evolution and growth of Crestline, I have to say, it has been organic and directly attributed to our well-earned reputation over the past 18 years,” said James Carroll, president and CEO of Crestline Hotels & Resorts. “We have always been committed to a partnership approach with hotel owners, investors and our employees. It’s this practice that enables Crestline to consistently deliver the highest quality guest experience, while managing some of the industry’s most profitable hotels, conference centers and resorts.”
To date, the hospitality company’s portfolio has 17,402 rooms in 119 hotels, resorts and conference centers in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Its entire property portfolio includes a mix of upper-upscale, full-service hotels; upscale select-service hotels; extended-stay hotels; and conference centers. Crestline works with all the major hospitality groups in the industry, including Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. The company also manages private-label hotels and conference centers, including the following: Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center and Emory Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta; Dylan Hotel NYC in New York City; the historic Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC; and the Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center in Staunton, VA.
“Over the past five years, we have seen our portfolio more than double in size, and we are poised for more growth,” Carroll said. “We have an excellent leadership team that has employed a system of best practices and methodologies that enable us to bring hotels quickly and effectively under our management with excellent near-term and long-term results.”
The Crestline team is interested in “well-positioned hotels in markets that are of interest” to its ownership groups; compared to its competitors, the management company pays less attention to geography. “We certainly see our portfolio growing to include additional primary and secondary markets, but with hotel companies offering a plethora of new brands, there is also opportunity to add hotels in markets we already serve,” Carroll said.
While Crestline’s portfolio doesn’t include properties in states such as Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, the management company isn’t opposed to expanding its portfolio to include these markets. “Our job is to assist owners in evaluating markets, determining branding and the type of hotel that is suitable for the market,” he said. “We then partner with ownership to deliver the best possible guest experience and financial returns for them. If the right opportunities present themselves, we would be enthusiastic about growing our portfolio beyond the 27 states and District of Columbia, where we currently manage hotels.”
One of the major contributing factors to Crestline’s success is being able to attract and retain associates and management team leaders, Carroll said. “Crestline has more than 5,500 employees and each one of them is essential to Crestline’s reputation as a leading hotel management company,” he said. “We recruit smartly and have a retention rate that is well above the industry average.”
As for how the management company retains its its employees, Crestline sticks to the basics—treat others how you want to be treated. “We retain our employees by treating them with respect and as family, while offering opportunities for growth within our company, advanced education and community involvement,” he said. “We are a company that cares about the communities we do business in and we encourage each of our hotels to work with associates to find ways to engage within the local community.”
Crestline also helps itself by being selective in its hiring process. “We seek people who share our values and fit into our culture,” he said. “Because we hire for long-term success and have excellent training programs, we have a low attrition rate, and we are often able to fill positions from within our community.” Crestline looks for eagerness, too.
Some may say the management landscape is cluttered, but Crestline has a slightly different point of view on the market; the company believes experienced owners are able to recognize seasoned management companies with bandwidth and scale possibilities.
“Crestline is not concerned about the number of management companies in the marketplace; we are focused on providing our ownership groups with excellent returns by operating best-in-class hotels,” Carroll said. “If we continue to do our job well, owners will continue to select Crestline and work with us for many years—as many do.”
Not only does Crestline see itself as a management company, but it also acts as an advisor to ownership. “Our executive and senior management teams work with an owner through all phases, from acquisition and development of a property to helping to determine the right branding of a property, as well as architecture and interior design, and, of course, marketing and sales plans,” he said. The management company also prides itself on engaging with its owners on a day-to-day basis to assess portfolio needs.
“We are large enough to offer owners the benefits of scale, while being right-size to offer a personal and individual approach to each property we manage,” Carroll said. “We are also highly respected by the major hotel brands and have experience managing under many different flags.”
Crestline has noticed a high demand in several categories, including extended-stay and dual-branded properties. “The combination of a select-service hotel with an extended-stay property provides additional amenities and services for guests, such as meeting space and expanded food services, without much additional development cost,” he said. The company also expects to see an increase in lifestyle sub-brands. As for why this is, these brands have a “great appeal to millennials.”
Looking out five years from now, the hospitality company expects to see continued growth within its portfolio; however, its core focus and mission will remain the same. “Crestline sees a very bright future as we continue to grow our portfolio with current and new ownership groups,” he said. “Our focus is on continuing to recruit and grow our talented pool of associates, while leading the industry in innovation, profitability and employment of best practices. We will continue to work closely with our ownership groups and the hotel brands to drive value.” HB