Having established a strong foothold in the Tucson area over the course of the last decade, Focus Hospitality Management has set its sights on expansion both geographically from a portfolio perspective as well as from a personnel standpoint.
The Tucson-based management company—which was founded in 2008 and specializes in distressed assets—recently added hospitality veteran Chris Stanley as vp, business development and asset management with a very clear objective going forward.
“Our first priority quite honestly is to grow. Primarily we are looking at the surrounding areas, but we’re not capping where we go. We’ll go anywhere basically, but our top priority is obviously to go closer to home to make sure that we can support our new properties thoroughly and show them the right kind of care that we give our current hotels,” he said.
Stanley—who pointed out the company’s portfolio consists of both limited-service and full-service properties—offered up a few potential nearby expansion target markets, such as Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Denver.
While Stanley acknowledged the challenges of expanding during the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, he touted the company’s collective expertise.
“As owners start to evaluate their next steps with the changing of the economy we’re looking to highlight our ability to manage efficiently,” he said.
Managing efficiently is just one of the attributes that helped convince Stanley to join the company after some 30 years in the industry working with larger corporations.
Before coming on board with Focus Hospitality, Stanley spent nearly three years as vp, development at Radisson Hotel Group. During that time he helped establish Radisson as a significant player in the California hotel market, expanding the brand’s footprint in the state by 45 percent. Stanley started his hospitality career with Westin Hotels prior to its acquisition by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Asserting that he “liked the feel” of the company, Stanley—who reports directly to EVP Bryan Tubaugh—elaborated on some of the other factors that contributed to his decision.
“What I was really looking for was an environment that had very much a positive feel and people dedicated to doing the right thing. I met the general managers and while they were all very different from each other they all had some of the same core attributes; a smile, a very friendly demeanor about them, and a very professional way. I would see them interact with the guests,” he said, further describing the company as “not stuffy” and “professional but warm.”
Helping to set that warm but professional tone is Helinda Lizarraga, president of Focus Hospitality. “She’s definitely a very diligent individual who not only cares a lot about her people, but when you walk through the hotel she knows everybody by name from room attendants to general managers. That’s the kind of person I like,” he said.
Stanley further added that the company was able to keep all of its hotels operating during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus with minimal staff reductions due in large part to the lean, high-quality team that Lizarraga has assembled.
“She takes great pride in having hired and retained people with great skill sets. We can forgo those types of positions you see in some companies where you’ve got a vp, operations running around. Like everyone, we’ve all cut back staff in various places within the operation and you had to right away,” he noted.
However, the pandemic didn’t keep the company from opening The Tuxon, its seventh hotel, this past July. The 112-room modern boutique hotel was converted from a two-story Motel 6 and is a member of Marriott International’s Design Hotels.
Stanley acknowledged the timing of the opening wasn’t ideal but expressed confidence as he detailed the conversion. “With the right-sized investment we’ve been able to turn it into an amazing asset that will do extremely well…It’s very modern and into the style of the guests of today and the things they are looking for. It maintains a focus on the public areas making them places where people want to be,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the rest of the company’s portfolio includes two Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton properties; as well as hotels under the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Best Western, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, and Comfort Suites by Choice Hotels brands.
Stanley did note that the properties have seen some encouraging signs of late, particularly as a result of increased travel coming from the nearby Mexican border and California. He also noted many local sports or club teams have resumed their activities.
“Clearly, we have to be able to react and be ready for the guest when they come. There are still some very strong patterns of business we’re seeing,” he said.
Stanley spoke highly of the company’s value system and its ability to get results.
“Integrity is our core value, to both our guests and our owners. We want to make sure that our guests are getting the best value for the dollar with the best service that they want and expect. Integrity with our employees so they have a safe and great place to work in a positive environment,” he said.
Stanley noted the seven assets the company manages in its portfolio are represented by three different owners as he reinforced the company’s bottom-line focus. “It’s taking care of our assets and helping owners get the best return possible that we can by not only managing the top-line revenue but the flow-through as well,” he said.