Loews’ CIO Greg O’Stean predicts growth

NEW YORK—Industry veteran Greg O’Stean has taken a turn in his sussessful hospitality career, landing at Loews Hotels as chief investment officer.

Well-known in the lodging industry for his work in finance, real estate and hotel development, the executive is now tasked with a variety of responsibilities for Loews’ three brands—Loews Hotels & Resorts, Loews Regency and OE Collection—including oversight of development and acquisitions, owner relations and asset management.

O’Stean made the move from Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, where he served as chief development officer in The Americas. Across some three decades, he also worked with Access Point Financial, Ernst & Young, GE Capital, Holiday Inn Worldwide, Piper Jaffray & Co. and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

“I have worn a lot of hats in my career. I’ve been a hotel buyer, seller, developer, franchisor, franchisee, manager, owner, JV partner, lender, asset manager, appraiser and advisor,” said O’Stean, who expects to parlay his background in his new position. “I have learned valuable lessons through each of the last four cycles. My broad and diverse experience enables me to better anticipate what’s on the horizon for the industry and for Loews Hotels.”

The company currently has 25 hotels in North America, and sees opportunities for continued growth, both domestically and abroad, O’Stean noted.

“Our growth strategy has always been deliberate; we want to continue to add hotels in key gateway cities and resort destinations,” he said, adding there’s an equal focus on advancing each of the three brands. 

“Earlier [in November], we announced our sixth hotel with our partners at Comcast NBC Universal, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, which will open in Orlando in 2018. Bisha Hotel and Residences, our first OE Collection Hotel, will open in Toronto in the spring of 2017,” said O’Stean. Loews also recently acquired Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle, WA. It will be rebranded a Loews Regency next year.  

The 16-story Orlando project will consist of 600 guestrooms and features 13 kids’ suites. The Aventura will bring the total number of on-site hotel rooms at Universal Orlando to 6,200 when combined with the 400-room expansion of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort that’s opening next year. Other hotels on the campus include Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and the new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, which had its grand opening early November.

“In the near term, most of the growth will likely come in the form of new construction, JVs and management contracts. Hotels are fully priced in most markets, so our acquisition activity will be opportunistic,” said the executive.

O’Stean’s role as CIO calls for him to monitor and manage Loews’ portfolio, develop strategies for capital and growth, recognize and manage risk, and act as the liaison with investors, all of which makes the executive “pretty busy.” 

“Since joining, I have been able to visit more than a third of our hotels, meet with most of our lenders and JV partners, and get up to speed on our current projects,” he said, noting he also attended the grand opening of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

O’Stean indicated the Loews brand has advantages on the current hotel playing field, citing company chairman/CEO Jonathan Tisch as a distinct driver in moving the needle on Loews’ growth. 

“We have iconic properties in prime locations, like Loews Miami Beach and Loews Regency New York on Park Ave. We have fantastic team members focused on delivering exceptional experiences for our guests, and we continue to reinvest in our hotels to ensure we are consistently offering a high-quality product… The Tisch family has been in the hospitality business for 75 years, with a stellar track record and a tremendous reputation,” noted O’Stean. 

“Jon entrusts each person on his team to do what we do best, and to work closely together with him should we need to dive deeper into a situation. It’s a lot like family; the relationship is strong and comfortable. Jon is the opposite of a micromanager, which is a perfect fit for my leadership style,” he said.

In describing his own vision for Loews and his work ahead, O’Stean said he would look to “continue our successful strategy of building our brands and broadening our customer base. We will remain focused on growing the chain in key markets while creating first-class work environments and opportunities for our team members, building upon our legacy as one of the premier hospitality organizations in the industry.”