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Peabody Gets Into Management Business

The famed hotel group has a new asset light strategy and seeks to grow through asset/brand management. Here’s what they’re doing.

Monday, February 24, 2014
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Belz Enterprises is readying for its second act.

After shedding most of its assets during the past few years, including its Orlando property for $717 million last fall, the company is looking to become a premier management firm under the name Peabody Hotels & Resorts

Planning to leverage the incredible customer awareness of its Peabody Hotels brand name, the company is looking to get into the asset/brand management within the luxury hotel segment. So look for more hotels to get imbued with the Peabody service ethos. And of course its famed ducks get to come along too.

The company will continue to own its flagship Memphis property, which is debt free and has recently been remodeled.

Douglas Browne, President, Peabody Hotels & Resorts, said the idea started about two years ago to use the deep experience the company has in creating spectacular service to bring its iconic image to other luxury focused hotels.

“We have Peabody name, the Peabody Marching Ducks and the culture and service excellence and we will bring these things to someone else. We are looking for a very unique niche of hotels in the luxury market,” said Browne.

Browne explained the Peabody name has always had outsized brand recognition for a company that had just a handful of hotels. “People always thought we were larger than we were. They were always surprised to learn we had two to three hotels. Our brand has such a great reputation I convinced our owners to leverage that,” said Browne.

Already in place is a central reservation system that is easily expandable and adaptable and they can add a hotel overnight to the reservations department.

For hotels looking to leverage the Peabody name and service culture, Peabody Hotels is ready with a task force of about two dozen people that have been trained and prepared to work in a new hotel with the goal of instilling the culture of service excellence in a new property.

“It’s been long in the works and we are excited. We know there are owners of independent luxury hotels where we can make a difference for them,” said Browne.

But he explains the company is not going to take just any old deal, only ones that fit the right parameters. “We want to make sure we can make the difference for a hotel and an owner. We will not take on a property for the sake of taking it on. We are not a Marriott and we won’t put on name and turn on reservation system and then ‘bammo’ occupancy is up 10 points. This is a longer term deal where we need to create a service culture and be a part of the community and be involved in those local charities. All managers in our hotels are involved in community charities, that’s a must. We want to be the hotel the community looks to as a leader,” said Browne.

He points to the ongoing success of Peabody Memphis, which is as closely defined to te city as Elvis and Beale Street.

“They have all major brands here, yet we are the single brand and we are the occupancy and rate leader. We did the same in Orlando back then when all the big guys were there and we proved there we could be a leader. We showed there was a luxury in Orlando and all the others have now followed,” said Browne.

Some select cities Browne thinks are ripe for Peabody hotel are Charleston, Nashville and New Orleans to name a few.

Getting hotels in those cities will be the job of Craig Smith, who was the Director of Sales & Marketing for The Peabody Memphis. He’s been promoted to VP of Brand Development for Peabody Hotels & Resorts. Smith is charged with aggressively pursuing and vetting hotel properties that meet the company’s requirements.

In October 2013, the Peabody Memphis completed a major renovation/restoration of all of its 464 guestrooms and suites. Designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates, the rooms were designed to feel timeless through a mix of traditional and transitional décor and modern accent pieces. The color palette for the King rooms includes lavender walls, custom-designed Axminster beige carpets with a brown scroll pattern, with plum, magenta and light green accents. The Double and Queen rooms have pale blue walls, with aqua and light green accents, according to a press release.

Aside from a completely new design and look for the rooms, there are a few less noticeable, but equally important, changes, such as all new windows, doors, and key card locks. The 880 new windows are historic-reproductions of the hotel’s original 1925 windows, but more energy efficient, sound proof, and allow in more natural light. The windows and the new solid wood guestroom doors work together to reduce exterior noise and new key card locks.

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