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HB ON THE SCENE: Top CEO's Check-In With Plenty Of Perspective

Monday June 2nd, 2008 - 12:18AM

NEW YORK- Three of the industrys most high-profile and well-known CEOs were brought together for the opening session at the NYU Industry Investment Conference and the discussion included everything from sucession plans to eco-friendly brands to long-term investment strategies. During the "CEOs Check-In," Jonathan Gray, CEO of Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, which last year acquired Hilton Hotels Corp, was asked the question how long Blackstone will be in the lodging business. "I would be shocked if we didnt stick to lodging. Weve developed some expertise and other investors are sometimes scared off because of the cyclical nature of it, and thats better for us." Meanwhile, Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood Capital Group, discussed the concept of his companys eco-friendly luxury brand 1 Hotels & Resorts. "Its positioned as something north of W. Its a pure bred, new build upscale brand," he said, adding of his motivation "I want to do it for my kids." He noted potential locations include Washington, DC; Austin, TX; Seattle; and Scotsdale, AZ. Although not a pressing issue, J.W. (Bill) Marriott addressed the challenge of succession within his company. "We have a very strong bench, theres a lot of people at the company with a lot of experience. We have a plan in place. Part of our culture is to promote from within," he noted. He also provided some optimism when discussing the current economic downturn. "Ive been through six of these, they are all different, but this business has tremendous potential," he noted.