Q&A with Foiz Ahmed, Quadrum Global

Quadrum Global continues its momentum in the hospitality space with Arlo Hotels, growing its portfolio in two major cities: New York and Miami. Spearheading the brand’s growth is Foiz Ahmed, president of hospitality at Quadrum, who has high hopes for the brand, with aspirations to move into other top markets, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and elsewhere.

Ahmed has more than 25 years of hospitality experience. Prior to Quadrum, he was VP of the Independent Collection for Hersha Hospitality Management (HHM). He previously spent time as HHM’s regional director of operations, where he led the company’s New York City portfolio. He also held various roles with Marriott.

Hotel Business sat down with Ahmed to learn more about Quadrum’s initiatives going forward and find out what’s in the development pipeline.

What should the industry know about Quadrum Global? Quadrum is a London-based real estate development and investment firm, and our primary focus is value-add opportunities in the U.S. and the U.K. Since 2009, we have committed more than $1 billion in capital to real estate investments in the U.S., and have grown our total portfolio to more than $2 billion across hospitality, senior living, commercial and residential projects.

I oversee Quadrum Hospitality Group, which comprises Quadrum’s hospitality portfolio of seven properties in New York City, Miami, Orlando and Chicago. We’re committed to building a portfolio of world-class hospitality assets and continuing to expand the Arlo brand to key gateway markets. In just three years, we’ve launched three Arlo properties and have three more under construction, with plans to launch in additional markets across the U.S.

Tell me about your hotel portfolio. We have three Arlo properties: Arlo SoHo and Arlo NoMad in New York City, and Nautilus by Arlo in Miami. We also own The Godfrey Hotel, Essex Inn and Hotel Julian in Chicago, as well as B Resort & Spa in Orlando, FL. All assets are upscale properties.

What were some of the challenges you faced developing Arlo Hotels? We were challenged with the same obstacles that many new hospitality brands face: We were starting from scratch with no engaged audience, no existing brand standards, not even a name. What we did have was a phenomenal team of executives, who somehow were able to pull together an entire brand concept, from revenue and sales structures to marketing and human resources plans. It was a slow process making sure we pulled together the right people and laid out the best framework for success, but we launched Arlo SoHo in September 2016 with a very quick ramp up and haven’t looked back.

How would you describe Arlo Hotels? Arlo caters to the contemporary world traveler looking for a place with a bustling atmosphere, high design and efficient amenities, all at an attractive price point. Today, the market is saturated with “approachable luxury” and “lifestyle” hotels similar to the Arlo concept, but we’ve carved a unique hold in the market by offering an extraordinary roster of guest programming with personality. We stand out from the crowd because of our events and activations. This constant schedule of events, paired with our outstanding food and beverage programs, convenient and comfortable guestrooms, and engaging public spaces, makes us an ideal home base for today’s urban explorers.

Why is it time for Arlo to diversify its portfolio geographically? Why jump into the Miami market? Having owned the Nautilus asset since 2011 and overseeing a multimillion-dollar renovation that restored the landmark property to its former glory, we were excited by the prospect of bringing the historic property into the Arlo portfolio. It’s a part of South Beach’s history, and we feel privileged to be breathing a new life into this Art Deco icon. Miami is another high-barrier-to-entry market, which is really where the Arlo product succeeds.

What’s in the development pipeline for Arlo Hotels? We have three Arlo hotels under construction with a few more in the pipeline. First to market will be Arlo Midtown in New York City, which is located in close proximity to the Hudson Yards development. This will be our largest Arlo project to date, with 494 rooms, putting us at more than 1,000 keys in New York City by fall 2020. We’re also working on a second property in Miami, this time in Wynwood. We’ll be one of the first hotels in the neighborhood upon opening in spring 2021. Quadrum also recently acquired the historic Canterbury Building in Washington, DC, which will join the Arlo Hotels portfolio in the next few years following a major renovation and new construction.

How do you expect to grow the Arlo brand? We expect the Arlo brand to continue growing into first-tier cities across the U.S., and eventually into international destinations as well. Aspirational markets for us are Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Boston, Nashville and Austin. With the Nautilus addition, we created the idea of an “endorsed brand,” which pertains to historical or iconic hotels or buildings that we operate. This is certainly something we’ll continue exploring in the future.

How have you seen the industry evolve over the years? There’s been a huge increase in the number of lifestyle brands, both independent brands and big brands trying to emulate the boutique sphere with new brands. Everyone is focused on providing a better guest experience through programming, activations and culture. Given this shift toward increased guest interaction, naturally hotels have been creating large, engaging public spaces, restaurants, bars and more, all with the goal of attracting a new generation of traveler looking for one-of-a-kind experiences.

What’s the future of Arlo Hotels? In the next three years, we will have doubled our assets. We don’t know where we will be in 10 years, but we do know that hospitality is the primary focus for our firm. We’re focused on smart, thoughtful development in key gateway markets, and are confident we have the team and structure in place to do so. HB

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