NATCHITOCHES, LA—In the last few years, Dimension Development, founded in 1988, has grown its portfolio to more than 60 properties across 14 different states, with 18 different brands from Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG. The company primarily plays in the upper-midscale through luxury segments, including focused-service, extended-stay and full-service properties.
Tim Horton, EVP of operations, said the last few years have been transformative for the company, “specifically, our growth in the upper-upscale and luxury full-service market, a focus on our top talent and additions to our development teams to accommodate for the increase in projects.” He added, “We are also becoming more specialized with regard to sales, revenue management, e-commerce, marketing and analytics.”
In March, the company was named the Management Company of the Year by Apple Hospitality REIT for exceptional hotel management in 2017. Dimension manages 24 properties and seven brands across the country for the REIT.
When the company first opened 30 years ago, it started as a developer and owner/operator with hotels primarily in the Southeast. “Soon after, we expanded up the East Coast and across the U.S.,” said Horton. “In the last few years, we have begun to diversify our portfolio by adding more full-service hotels in primary markets.”
Horton said that a top priority for the company this year and going forward is staying ahead of the curve. “The industry is evolving at an incredible rate, and the way we source business, engage our associates and attract new ones must change, as well,” he said. “We have new developments across the board and we are looking at innovative ways to drive revenue, all while increasing operational efficiencies. In addition, we are expanding our development department with diversified systems in budgeting and cost estimating, as well as increasing construction management and renovation supervision.”
The amount of supply entering the market is one hurdle that all companies must deal with, according to Horton. “There is a lot in the pipeline and having similar brand supply growth in the same market can be a challenge. It’s all cyclical and it has been great for years,” he said.
But, according to Horton, there is opportunity. “We must stay current by maximizing the sales, marketing and e-commerce divisions, and getting very granular with our analytics. To be a leader in each market and, ultimately, the industry, requires th=at you operate with a high level of intensity, efficiency and organization. The industry is still strong, and we must take all of this into account to create additional revenue opportunities,” he said.
With a labor shortage affecting the entire hospitality industry, the company works to attract and keep talent. “You need to stand out in multiple areas and at all levels of your company to attract and retain the best talent,” he said. “One of most important elements is creating a culture that truly cares about its associates and guests, one that makes a difference in people’s lives and the community it operates in. Each person needs to know that they have the opportunity to grow their career while working alongside those who are equally as driven as they are. When you combine that type of positive work environment with having competitive compensation, benefits and incentive packages, your organization will be filled with top performers.”
Throughout its 30-year history, the company has been involved with a number of projects, but there is one that stands out to Horton. “The development and renovation of The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, was an incredible project,” he said. “After Hurricane Katrina, it sat vacant until we purchased the hotel and began a $170-million, multi-year restoration project. Every detail of the iconic hotel was renovated to bring back its classic elegance. As a Louisiana-based company, having the opportunity to restore a piece of history and contribute to the development of New Orleans will always be one of our top accomplishments.”
One project the company has on the horizon is one that Horton calls equally as monumental as The Roosevelt New Orleans: the Hyatt Regency Nashville in Tennessee. “This will mark our second hotel in one of the U.S.’s top markets,” he said. “Opening in 2020, it is a 24-story luxury hotel with 591 rooms, 65,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, multiple F&B outlets, a rooftop lounge, a pool deck overlooking the city, and a world-class spa. Located on Broadway at the gateway to downtown Nashville and part of the Nashville Yards development, it will be surrounded by shopping, restaurants, bars, entertainment and be within walking distance to the Nashville Convention Center.”
The company also recently added the Boca Raton Marriott at Boca Center in Florida, and the Homewood Suites Nashville Downtown. “These additions brought us into new markets and our portfolio count to over 60 hotels with over 11,000 rooms,” said Horton. “While the Hyatt Regency Nashville is our largest upcoming project, we have multiple projects and acquisitions in the pipeline that we look forward to sharing soon. 2018 will be another strong year of growth for us.”
According to Horton, the company has a specific strategy when it evaluates markets for its future growth. “We’re looking in primary markets that have positive economic trends, and we select dynamic markets that have a lot to offer,” he said. “We monitor growth from a tourism, corporate, convention center and group standpoint. Each market varies, and you need to be able to determine what the opportunity is for the hotel and segment you’re evaluating. It may be through increases in revenue, through economic trends, by operational efficiencies or a combination of both.”
The company is currently looking at more opportunities for growth. “We are exploring opportunities in Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Washington, DC, and New Orleans, as well as a few markets in Florida,” he said. “We are also looking at opportunities to add luxury resorts to our portfolio throughout the U.S. This list is constantly being updated as we evaluate each potential addition. With each asset we add and market we enter, we further our goal of diversifying the portfolio and investment opportunities for our owners.” HB