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HB EXCLUSIVE: Chesapeake Hospitality refreshes look amid growth

GREENBELT, MD—After more than 60 years in the hotel management business, Chesapeake Hospitality is having one of its best years ever, and even though it is introducing a new marketing look for the company, a change to the way it does things is not on the table.

“We have been working hard as an organization to really cement our place in the industry, going back to when we really started driving our management business,” said Chris Green, principal/chief commercial officer, Chesapeake Hospitality. “It is a really crowded marketplace in the management game. But, we have always been different. We have always been connected to our culture. We wanted to make sure that we were offering what owners wanted and needed out of their assets, not necessarily a square box that we try to jam every hotel into.”

Throughout its 62-year history, the company has been built around its culture. “It was started in 1957 by my parents in a small, 12-room hotel outside of Washington near the University of Maryland,” said Kim E. Sims, principal/president. “It’s been family-owned and run, and I am now in business with my brother Chris [Sims, principal/EVP].”

Chesapeake Hospitality’s new logo

The family lived and breathed the hotel business—literally. When the hotel was first purchased, the family lived at the property. And, Sims said, it will continue to stay a family-owned endeavor.

“The culture of the company—what my brother and I observed of my parents—is the foundation of the company: honesty, integrity and humility,” he said.

Green believes that the company’s focus on culture has led to its current success. “We really believe that now is the time,” he said, noting that there’s a great energy surrounding Chesapeake. “I talk with our team about how that wave we’ve been building has really been catching up to us. We are seeing the fruits of all of this intense focus on culture and performance. All of these are coming to a confluence of success. We have an offering that speaks to a deeper level that owners are looking for than just what’s my GOP and what’s my top line? In today’s market, those are the metrics of the old.”

Chesapeake currently has 42 hotels under contract for management in 15 states. “This year alone, we have had about 15% growth with a few more deals yet to announce for the year,” he said. “2019 will by far be our biggest year for announcements. We have entered into several new deals. Several are going to be coming online in the fall.”

The company recently entered into a management agreement with Lake Placid Vacation Corporation to manage its resort hotel in Lake Placid, NY: a 244-room Crowne Plaza with 22,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. “The Lake Placid Vacation umbrella has 36 holes of championship golf,” Green said. “It is located literally at the doorstep to the Olympic Center. It is privately held and has been privately operated for the past 45-plus years.”

Chesapeake also signed a management agreement for the Hyde Beach House in Hollywood, FL. “It is a 400-room, ultra-luxury condominium hotel that is on the same campus as our DoubleTree Hollywood Beach Resort and the Hyde Resort, which is across the street; that is opening this fall,” Green said. “It is a 46-story tower with a spa and restaurants. It will end up giving us almost 1,000 rooms on that corner, so it’s a massive complex.”

Chesapeake has added The Peregrine Hotel Omaha Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton in Nebraska to its management portfolio.

Additionally, another of the company’s upcoming openings is a move westward: The Peregrine Hotel Omaha Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton in Nebraska, a 90-room boutique property located in Omaha’s CBD.

All of this, Green said, speaks to Chesapeake’s expertise. “This is what we are capable of doing,” he said. “We have the people and expertise to do massive projects. While we do focus on hotels with F&B and hotels that are unique, we are capable of 1,000 rooms or 90 rooms. We look at the asset and where it sits and how to make it perform best for that ownership group.”

Chesapeake also recently executed a deal for an adaptive-reuse project in Connecticut, its first in the state, and will be opening Hotel Indigo properties in St. Louis and Chattanooga, TN.

Despite its successful year so far, Sims said that the size of the company is not what matters, but how it operates. “I never wanted to be the biggest; all I wanted to do was be the best,” he said. “The people differentiate us from other management companies; they give us a leg up when we compete for these contracts. We have been in business for more than 60 years, and being true to our core values is what makes us successful. It makes us successful with our guests, it makes us successful with our team members and also our ownership groups.”

Green added, “Our measuring stick is not deal growth or revenue growth for the management company. Our measuring stick is how well we perform for each individual asset. I always quip when I am talking to friends or peers in the marketplace that I have the easiest job description in the world. My boss’ only request for me is this: We will not grow if we cannot do it the Chesapeake way, which is a very detailed way. It is a super easy decision process for me. If I ever see us to the point where we don’t have the proper staff in place or the right staff to deploy against an asset, we will never take a deal for our own growth that could come at the hindrance of the performance of that asset or hurt our reputation in the marketplace. It is an easy standard to live by.”

With the growth the company has had, the decision was made to refresh its logo. “We are really looking to take the excitement about what we have accomplished—and continue to accomplish—in the broad and diverse assets that we are taking under management to really refresh our look,” he said. “It is a bit more modernized. It is focused on who we are as a company that is successful to work with and to do business with.”

The new logo features a prominent CH, forming a door handle in the monogram.

The symbolism, Green said, works on many levels. “We wanted to represent to our people that we at Chesapeake will always be a doorway to an amazing career and an amazing opportunity with a company with a great culture,” he explained. “To our clients, we wanted to make sure that they could see access to unparalleled results and personalized attention. Finally, to the broader marketplace, when we are talking to potential clients, [we wanted to convey]that Chesapeake is a place you can call home. That doorway is access to not just a business relationship, but a family.” HB


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