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Sonesta Taps Murray As CEO

Hospitality Veteran Looks To Further Franchise Growth For Multi-Brand Company

By Dennis Nessler | March 16, 2022

The ongoing evolution of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation into a major franchise company continued this week with the appointment of hospitality veteran John Murray to the position of president/CEO, effective April 1.

Murray—who has been a director of the company since 2018—replaces CEO Carlos Flores, who is resigning after seven years at the helm. Murray was responsible for building Hospitality Properties Trust into one of the largest REITs in the industry after becoming president in 1996. In 2019, the REIT transitioned to Service Properties Trust, which owns a 34 percent interest in Sonesta.

Following last year’s acquisition of Red Lion, Sonesta has become the eight largest hotel company in the world and Murray pointed out he is determined to continue that rapid growth. He has a long history of acquiring portfolios, including the 2019 acquisition of a new lease service retail portfolio from Spirit MTA REIT for $2.4 billion.

“I am very excited to assume the role of president/CEO at Sonesta, which is well poised for further growth and expansion,” stated Murray in a press release.

Sonesta has grown its portfolio to some 1,200 hotels with 15 brands across its portfolio. In February, the company announced the addition of 88 hotels to its global portfolio through reflagging opportunities.

Sonesta continues to bolster its development team adding brand veteran Shane Platt earlier this week as SVP, franchise development. Platt was most recently with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Best Western’s SureStay brand prior to that. He joins Keith Pierce, who is EVP, franchise & development, and Brian Quinn, who is chief development officer.

In connection with his transition to his new position, Murray will resign from his roles as President/CEO, Service Properties Trust and President/CEO, Industrial Logistics Properties Trust. Service Properties Trust has subsequently announced that Todd Hargreaves has been appointed as its President and CIO, effective April 1, 2022.

Hargreaves has served as Vice President of SVC since 2019 and as Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of SVC since 2020. Mr. Hargreaves is also Senior Vice President of The RMR Group, responsible for all real estate and real estate related acquisitions at RMR. Prior to joining RMR in 2010, Mr. Hargreaves worked at AIG Investments, where he was responsible for commercial real estate loan origination and asset management. He has more than 15 years of experience working in the commercial real estate industry, specializing in acquisitions, dispositions and underwriting.

Adam Portnoy, a Managing Trustee of SVC and a Managing Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of RMR, made the following statement:

“During the past three years as part of SVC’s senior management and in more than a decade at RMR, Todd has proven to be a strategic and analytical thinker, with a primary role in determining capital allocation decisions at SVC and RMR. Todd led the successful acquisition of SVC’s $2.4 billion net lease service portfolio in 2019 and more recently is responsible for SVC’s current hotel disposition plan that SVC expects, when completed in the next few months, will realize over $560 million of sales. Looking forward, Todd has the Board’s confidence to strengthen the portfolio and deliver strong long term operating performance for SVC.”

Dennis Nessler

Dennis Nessler is Editor-in-Chief of Hotel Interactive, parent company of Hotel Community Forum. Nessler brings more than 28 years of editorial experience to his position, including some 17 years in the hospitality industry. As part of his duties, Nessler not only covers the industry editorially but moderates various high-level panel sessions at hospitality events and frequently conducts one-on-one interviews with C-level executives.

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