Barrett Steers Venerable Family Hotel Business Toward Expansion

Brooke Denihan Barrett and her five siblings grew up working odd jobs at the family's New York City hotels. Since acquiring the nearly 50-year-old Denihan Hospitality Group from other family members in 2006, Barrett and brother Patrick Denihan are not only carrying on that family legacy, but they also are forging their own path with an ambitious expansion plan.

Denihan Hospitality has more than doubled its revenues and portfolio over the past five years. Revenues jumped to more than $160 million in 2010 as the collection of upscale and luxury boutique hotels grew from six to 13.

Denihan Hospitality owns and operates hotels in New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago under The James and Affinia Hotels brands, as well as luxury independents including The Surrey and The Benjamin in Manhattan and the Royal Palm in Miami.

Over the next five years, Barrett and Denihan plan to double the size of the company yet again. The firm has secured the capital to fuel that growth. In July, Denihan Hospitality sold a 49% stake in six of its Manhattan hotels to Bethesda, Md.-based Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.

Although Barrett declined to disclose a purchase price, The Wall Street Journal said the deal was priced at $152 million.

Denihan Hospitality has been recognized as an industry leader — a reputation that Barrett has played a key role in crafting as co-CEO in charge of operations. Hotel Business magazine ranked Denihan Hospitality in the top three in occupancy and RevPAR on its list of top U.S. hotel management companies in 2010.

Barrett credits the firm's guest services for much of its success. “Location, location, location is critical, but the experience that guests have and the customer service they get is going to be what keeps them returning again and again,” says Barrett.

Barrett plans to continue building the firm's Affinia and James brands in cities such as Los Angeles and Boston. The goal is to add two new hotels to the portfolio each year either through acquisitions, joint ventures or management contracts.

“Our sweet spot is taking an existing, underperforming hotel, renovating it and repositioning it.”

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