Hotec Design buyer profile: Hyatt's Fred L. Brandstrader

Fred L. Brandstrader, VP of construction and capital expenditures at Hyatt Hotels Corp., is set to attend Hotec Design, an annual conference presented by Questex Hospitality, the parent company of Hotel Management. At the conference, buyers meet one-on-one with hospitality-focused suppliers to learn about new products and services and to keep up to date on emerging trends. Ahead of the conference, Brandstrader talked about his experience in hospitality design and his views on how it is evolving. 

Brandstrader started out in music, playing piano while also studying science and art. Architecture, then, was a career in which the fine arts could meet applied arts. “Architecture was kind of a nice mix of science and art,” he recalled. After earning his BA in architecture from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1987, he started his career in small commercial firms, finding his niche in hospitality design in the 1990s. 

As project architect on some hospitality projects, Brandstrader became interested in the responsibilities of the owner’s project manager. When a client needed someone with an architectural background, Brandstrader “jumped ship” from the design side of the proverbial table to the project management side, joining Lendlease in 2000. At the time, the pension fund real estate advisor had a portfolio of about 36 hotels across the country. “That was a wonderful experience,” he recalled. 

Fred Brandstrader

Since moving from one side of the table to the other, Brandstrader has stayed on the owner’s side, working directly with owners or working as an owner’s representative. He joined Pyramid Hotel Group in 2005, overseeing an estimated $115 million over a dozen design and construction projects. After almost two years running his own consultancy firm, he joined CBRE in 2010, spending four years overseeing capital expenditures for Delta Hotels across Canada. He joined Hyatt in 2018, overseeing the planning, design and construction of all major CapEx projects across the company’s owned hotels in the U.S. and Caribbean.

Two Sides

Having worked both as an architect and as part of ownership groups, Brandstrader is “sympathetic and empathetic” of the trials and tribulations architects and design teams face and the processes they have to go through. “There are two types of architects,” he noted: “the design architects and the nuts-and-bolts construction architects.” Brandstrader considers himself to be the latter type of architect, more interested in the actual implementation process of design and construction. “Helping make the design come to fruition is a project manager's vision,” he added.

Brandstrader enjoys working in the hospitality space because the properties are all multiuse buildings, with multiple needs and components that must meet those needs. “You've got the people who sleep there, you've got people who eat there, you got people who work out there, there [are] spa treatments—so you really get a little bit of all kinds of sectors within this [one] property,” he said. 

Brandstrader became interested in attending Hotec Design after a colleague participated in the past. The prescheduled one-on-one meeting format, he said, is a good way for him to find new partners— “whether consultants, design engineers or suppliers. I thought it was an effective use of time.” 

The 2023 Hotec Design conference will take place June 19-22 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. Registration is open for both buyers and suppliers.