Crescent Hotels & Resorts has learned to cope with financial stress and resource constraints while maintaining assurance and high service levels. With the worst of the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, Crescent Hotels has re-stabilized its operations for continued outperformance and future growth.
Headquartered in Fairfax, Va. and Toronto, Crescent Hotels & Resorts manages 115 hotels and resorts in Canada and the U.S, spanning urban and leisure destination markets in the upscale, upper-upscale and luxury segments. Its portfolio is comprised of full-service premium hotels within the Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG brands, as well as high-end independent and lifestyle hotels within the Latitudes by Crescent collection.
“We have dedicated leaders whose sole purpose is to oversee the independent hotel portfolio,” says Tony Cohen, executive VP and partner, Crescent Hotels & Resorts. “The beauty of that is we can take the best practices from all the brands and apply them to our independent division, and vice versa.”
Crescent Hotels & Resorts offers an extensive list of management services with regard to business development, operations, commercial strategy, food and beverage and project management.
“We’re fiscally responsible,” says Cohen. “Anyone in this industry knows you can’t save your way to profitability. It’s all about driving revenue and having it flow more profitably, so we have a robust commercial department, which includes revenue management, sales and marketing, digital strategy and global sales. We try to take a lot of that out of the hotels so the hotels can focus on the asset, the clients and the associates.”
With Crescent, management contracts are typically five years, plus a five-year extension. What separates the company from its competitors, Cohen says, is its 30-day termination clause on behalf of the ownership without punitive damages.
“We are an employee, and if we’re not delivering value then our clients should be able to get rid of us,” he says. “The good news is we wake up every day and work hard on behalf of our clients to deliver that value.”
At the onset of the pandemic, one of Crescent’s significant business decisions was to keep its entire corporate team working, which proved to be beneficial for the long-term success of both clients and the company at large.
“We specifically didn’t furlough any of our corporate team because we wanted our team and clients to feel we were committed to them. Our clients and our hotels needed us more than ever,” says Cohen. “With skeleton staff at the properties, there was a lot that needed to be done at the property level where resources were scarce and applying for subsidies became the financial lifeblood of many hotels. Our corporate teams focused on both.”
Cohen continues, “From a corporate-staffing standpoint, we have a robust infrastructure in order to properly oversee our hotels. We have multiple divisions and a restaurant group, because 35 per cent of our sales are food and beverage.”
Overall, Cohen says Crescent’s portfolio is performing well. The company appeared on Hotelier’s Top 35 Report with gross sales of $165 million in 2021 for its Canadian properties. Among its recent portfolio additions are the Gladstone House, which re-opened in September 2021 after a robust renovation, and Hyatt Place Ottawa, which opened in May 2021. South of the border, the company has added MAX Daytona Beach Resort (opened June 2022), Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort (opened August 2022) and The Viv Hotel, Anaheim, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel (opened August 2022) to its growing list of managed properties.
“Our booking pace in 2022 since March has outpaced 2019,” says Cohen. “The markets that had lingering restrictions lagged the most, but the corporate and event group will start to re-gain a foothold in the markets leading into next year.”
Not surprisingly, Crescent Hotels & Resorts favours properties with plenty of amenities, such as spas, food and beverage, events, golf and retail, because of its ability to effectively juggle a variety of tasks managerially. Additionally, Crescent doesn’t own any real estate, which Cohen says is another major differentiator because if a “[management company] operates hotels [they] own and hotels [they] don’t own, [they’re] going to put majority of their resources into the ones [they] do own.”
“We’re privately owned so we don’t answer to any external forces who are looking for monthly, quarterly or annual returns of X per cent, and we’re very strategic about our growth,” says Cohen. “We want to grow with our clients and the more moving parts an asset has, the more we like it. Our pipeline is very strong, and we’ve grown more throughout the pandemic than we have in previous years.”
By Nicole Di Tomasso