Patrick Breen just seems to be in the right place at the right time right now. The industry veteran, whose career journey of nearly four decades has had him hand-in-glove with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts—including its previous iterations—and its brands for almost 35 years, finds himself at the threshold of what’s literally being called a new “dawn” for Days Inn by Wyndham, of which he has oversight as brand SVP.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration in 2020, the brand last month launched a new guestroom-design program dubbed Dawn, which Breen will help guide and wrangle as it rolls out in the United States.
Grabbing a hold of the new and noteworthy and running with it is not foreign to the executive; he’s been doing it for most of his career at Wyndham, and then some.
His entrée into the industry in 1981 could be considered novel by some, but his four-year stint as controller/resident manager at the Cat Cay Yacht Club in the Bahamas prepped him well for any number of hospitality’s challenges. “For a middle-class lad from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to find himself in a world-class venue on a private island surrounded by individuals he would not normally be surrounded by, it took my breath away,” recalled Breen, noting it was a family friend, Chris Snavely, who had a lumber business and a home on the island, who brought him there. “I ran the lodging side of the business. Cat Cay had a marina, private golf course and 70-something homes of which 50 were in a rental pool, so between members and guests I managed the front-office operation.”
Breen came to the job with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University and an accounting certificate from the University of Pittsburgh.
“I guess it qualified me for the position but it didn’t prepare me for living on an island that was 2 miles long and a half-mile wide,” said Breen. “We’d run out of electricity, we’d run out of water, on occasion someone would die. These are not normal situations anywhere, but there, they’re unique in that you don’t call an ambulance, you call an air ambulance; when you run out of water, you run out of water and you have to explain to the guest why there is no water, or why the lights go out. Now, it didn’t happen often, but it forced you to think on your feet.”
He also at first wasn’t prepared for the heady mix of ultra-affluent and bold-face names that frequented the destination, among them former President Richard Nixon, billionaire Ross Perot and the DuPont and Wrigley families. “Many of them were entrepreneurs, businesspeople, men and women whom you couldn’t help but learn from. They were charismatic. They were smart. They were informed. They made quick decisions,” he said.
Breen also considers Snavely and his son, Steve, as mentors. Citing the father as the charismatic visionary and risk-taker business leader and the Harvard-educated economics major son as more analytical, he characterized them as a “powerful pair, and I learned from them,” he said, noting the senior Snavely advised: “You can never be too prepared for what is in front of you.”
In front of Breen when he decided to leave the island in 1985 was Phoenix, where he began working for Ramada Inns, which was acquired in the late 1990s by Wyndham’s predecessor, Cendant Corp. He started as a management trainer, later leading the development team for Ramada’s Personal Best initiative and ultimately becoming director of training for the Ramada Management Institute. From 1998 to 2004, Breen served as VP/preferred client group before being tapped to serve as VP of strategic planning and business development and providing support for the Ramada, AmeriHost Inn and Wingate by Wyndham franchisee advisory boards. The following year, he was promoted to SVP.
Before his current post, which he took on in January 2015, Breen served as SVP/operations for Baymont Inns & Suites by Wyndham beginning in 2006 and added Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham in 2013.
A ‘Unique’ Brand
Breen considers Days Inn “a wonderful, iconic, legacy brand. All of our brands are special and Days Inn is uniquely special because it is the first brand we purchased back in 1991 after the formation of the company.” He observed that many current Days Inn owners are second- and third-generation hoteliers whose families started in the business via a Days Inn franchise, particularly those from the Asian-American community. “So I really have two things to do: One is to maintain the legacy of Days Inn and two, elevate Days Inn to what we want it to be, which is a brand not just for parents, but brands for the next generation, and that’s what Dawn is all about,” said Breen.
In a way, the same could be said for him. The SVP, who believes he may be the longest-tenured employee, said during his time at Wyndham, “I’ve had a front-row seat to all of it, whether I was in a junior position or a senior position. I am deeply loyal to this company. I hope and plan to finish my career here.”
And when that day dawns, his own legacy will continue at Wyndham, where his daughter, Haley Maglio, is a decade in and now works for the company as director of brand operations for Super 8.
Days Inn Worldwide
Headquarters: Parsippany, N.J.
Structure: Franchised hotel brand of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Portfolio: 1,700-plus hotels; more than 137,000 guestrooms