Hotel investment is not a new concept for families, high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs. Indeed, individual hotel ownership has been around since biblical days when there was no room at the Inn. The basic reasons for investing in hotels has remained essentially the same over time although the events of Covid 19 and the impact on hospitality may have opened up some additional reasons why family offices and high net worth individuals are turning to hotels as an alternative investment opportunity.

Economic gain is a primary motivation for investing in hotels. Gain can be achieved high income from the hotel’s operating cash flow and through increasing the hotel’s capital value. Revenues can also be generated through development fees, management fees and asset management fees. Hotels also rank very high as a tax efficient investment through depreciation, tax-free exchanges, and investment recapitalization. Real estate investments, including hotels are also excellent inflation hedges. Hotel properties reflect the economy in general and tend to appreciate along with inflation.

Other reasons for hotel investment include asset diversification, capital deployment, investment control and personal community involvement. Hotel asset performance does not always correlate with the stock market and even other real estate investments. Hotels also offer a platform to capture and further diversify revenues. Having a residential component, i.e., condo units for sale, is a good example and being seen in more and more luxury hotel developments. Hotels are an excellent way to efficiently deploy capital as hotel values are not cheap – they can cost tens of millions of dollars. Hotel investments provide ownership accountability by holding day to day control for independent hoteliers and family run properties. Personal reasons for hotel ownership can be a powerful motivation. Recognition in the community for generating jobs, hosting social events bringing business for other local businesses can be a major boost to the ego. The prestige of hotel ownership may reside at the top of the list when all is said and done. Bottom line: It’s cool.

With all the benefits and rewards of hotel ownership, it does come with substantial risks. As often stated, hotels are a barometer of the overall economy. When times are good, hotel business is good. When things are not so good, hotels feel the consequences. When major catastrophes occur, such as 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, and, most recently, the world-side Covid-19 pandemic, the impact on hotels is disastrous. Hotels are also a highly competitive and can be impacted by the addition of a new, more modern property in the market. The rise of the share economy and companies like Airbnb have had, and will continue to have, a major impact on the hotel industry. Aside from these macro issues, there are serious micro threats to hotel investments. Some of these include Cybersecurity and data privacy, guest behavior which can result in lawsuits who are injured or damage to guestrooms, staffing as labor is becoming more difficult to find and more expensive, and just unexpected incidences from maintenance failures to fires, floods and other natural disasters.

To effectively gauge the benefits versus the risks of a hotel investment, it is critical for first time buyers of luxury hotels to surround themselves with a team of hospitality professionals to prepare a pathway for success and to provide guidance along the way.

About the Author

L.K. Eric Prevette is a 30-year veteran in the hospitality industry and served as CEO of several luxury hotel companies, including RockResorts and the Resort Properties Division of The Irvine Company. He also served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Development Officer for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.

Mr. Prevette has spent most of his hospitality career working exclusively with independent luxury and boutique hotel assets. He and his partner, Carlos Lopes, launched Unique Hotels in 1987 and later co-founded Bel Air Hotel Company. During his career, he has successfully repositioned and assisted in the sale of hotel properties valued at more than $500 million and provided valuable asset management and other advisory services to owners and lender of over 50 hotels in the US, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia.

Mr. Prevette brings creative financial and operational thinking to each project with the ultimate goal of optimizing asset value. He is now a managing principal with Karas Hotel Advisors

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