Tishman Hotel Corp. Uses Real Estate, Market Experience To Stay On Top Of Competition

NEW YORK? ?Being owners ourselves helps make us better managers,? Tishman Hotel Corp. (THC) President John Griswold said recently in explaining his company?s successful 15-year history in the management of three- and four-star lodging properties. On board at THC since its inception as a multi-faceted affiliate of Tishman Realty & Construction Co. in 1985, Griswold said the vertically integrated hotel company follows one basic premise in its property-management role. ?We treat every property [we manage]as if we own 100% of that asset,? he said. Also contributing to THC?s success is its ability to draw upon more than 100 years of realty-related experience, giving it expertise in advisory services, investment banking, as well as asset, construction and development management. This varied expertise ?keeps us at the top of our game? in terms of hotel management, Griswold said. ?We can easily interface with our clients and our partners at all levels of the operation.? In terms of technology, THC may be ahead of its competition, according to Griswold, as the company ?probably builds more high-tech buildings than anyone else in the U.S.? This range of expertise has not only served THC?s clients well, it has also proven instrumental in helping the management organization grow and prosper, Griswold indicated. With its most recent development? the purchase, renovation and re-flagging of the 573-room Four Points Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport? THC?s hotel-management portfolio now encompasses nearly 8,300 rooms in a dozen properties strategically situated throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. The conversion of the former Continental Plaza into what ranks as the second-largest property in the 116-unit Four Points Hotels by Sheraton brand by no means marks the end of the company?s expansion plans. This fall, Tishman Realty Corp. (TRC) and THC? in concert with ING Realty Partners LP? will be opening a 13th property, the 95-room Ocean Villas in Puerto Rico (The Four Points/LAX project was also done in partnership with ING). THC?s ownership stakes currently include: 100% of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, the Hilton Disney World Village in Lake Buena Vista, FL, and the Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort & Casino in Puerto Rico; partnership with MetLife in the Walt Disney World Swan (Westin) and Walt Disney World Dolphin (Sheraton) in Orlando; and the union on two properties with ING. The company also provides management-only services for: The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua in Maui; The Goodwin Hotel in Hartford, CT; and The Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C. ?THC is always looking to add properties, either within its owner?s portfolio or through management contracts,? Griswold said. He noted that perhaps the most important thing the company looks for before taking on any property is ?a high barrier-to-entry location.? Following this philosophy, it?s understandable why Griswold felt comfortable in describing the THC portfolio as ?relatively small but noticeably high-profile.? The company?s most high-profile portfolio addition to date is already shaping up in the wings: the 45-story, 857-room Westin New York at Times Square. ?The design and programming of this $300 million undertaking are already well under way,? said TRC/THC Chairman/CEO John Vickers. ?Additionally, equity is already in place for the 667,000-square-foot project, and the final stages of debt financing are currently being arranged.? Doors are slated to open in late 2002 on the proposed Westin flagship property. Griswold noted that THC understands that hotels are operating businesses and not passive real estate investments. As such, the firm realizes that such businesses require active oversight and involvement by their owners in order to maximize bottom-line performance and asset value.