CHMWarnick's Craig A. Mason on taking chances and new responsibilities

Mason has experience in repositioning complex luxury assets like the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, Hawaii. Photo credit: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Putting more than two decades into any one job might seem a bit archaic given today’s Instagram-fueled position-hoppers. For some, however, building a career path and then finding “a home” to hone and expand one’s skill set creates a deep sense of satisfaction.

But even stalwarts get itchy and simply have to scratch and move.

That’s how Craig A. Mason found himself the new executive vice president at CHMWarnick, tasked with creating a Washington, D.C., metro-area office for the hotel asset manager and business advisor.

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A 22-year veteran of Host Hotels & Resorts, Mason climbed the corporate ladder there until he led the company’s asset-management division as SVP, overseeing 110 domestic and international properties across 21 brands. While in a position of respect and authority, when the knock from opportunity rapped on his door earlier this year Mason felt it was the right time to answer.

“CHMWarnick is known for having a number of really large and prestigious assets and I’m being given the opportunity to work with multiple different ownership groups. So, I thought it would be an amazing learning experience for me and also give me an opportunity to spread the things that I’ve learned over the years working at Host,” Mason said. “When I was looking at what my next move would be, I wanted it to be with a company that shared the same kind of values I have; putting owners first and looking out for their interests [while] also being an incredible partner with the management companies and the brands. You have to have that kind of collaboration to be successful.”

Craig Mason. Photo credit:
CHMWarnick

Mason has established a reputation of developing high-performance teams and pushing the envelope in competitive business situations. It’s just what you might expect from a former U.S. Marine who’s also a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. And he can put the initials CHAM after his name, attesting to his achieving the ultra-difficult Certified Hospitality Asset Manager designation (something he helped formulate as part of the Hotel Asset Managers Association).

“I’m in the business of influence, and really, influence comes with knowledge. You have to be willing to serve others before you’re going to get served. Having that servant/leader mentality is always a great way to work with an executive team. At the end of the day, you’re only as successful as the executives on the property. My job is to help them be as successful as possible and make sure their goals are aligned with what the ownership is trying to achieve.”

That attitude is among the reasons Mason has found a new home at CHMWarnick. Chad Crandell, the company’s CEO and managing director, termed the executive a “strategic addition” to the team and its expansion effort.

According to the CEO, “The opportunity to establish an on-the-ground presence in Washington, D.C., will further enhance our ability to service clients on the Eastern Seaboard and beyond. More importantly, we view Craig as a strategic addition. He is one of the best and most experienced in the business…with his deep knowledge, industry involvement, entrepreneurial style and proven ability to create value for owners, Craig is the ideal candidate to join the senior ranks of our team.”

And the feeling’s apparently mutual.

“One of the things that attracted me to CHMWarnick is [it’s] invested in a business-intelligence system, Proph+IT, that is cutting edge for asset management. Rather than spending tons of time filling in data sheets to come up with what are we going to be comparing, theirs is all populated. They can see what trends are going to be ahead of time. So, we can say: ‘OK. Here are five different areas we need to focus in on that are going the wrong way.’ We can focus in on strategy and problems rather than trying to check-mark every little thing down the page…it’ll be a building block for other tools to come down the road,” said Mason.

CHMWarnick launched the Proph+IT technology platform this past July. According the company, data is provided directly from management companies, populated with millions of data points from each hotel’s trial balance, across historical and current monthly financial data, as well as forecasted performance. This data is then automatically coded to CHMWarnick’s chart of accounts.

Mason was recently referred to as “a known quantity in the industry” by CHMWarnick EVP Kristie Dickinson, who cited his first day on the job. “We dragged him right into an assignment and he hit the ground running. We’re at this property and we started walking the halls and he knew people who worked there. These are the types of things that make us so much more effective at our job, to be able to establish that initial connection…there’s such a strong parallel between the way he conducts his business and the way we do our business,” she said.

Over his lengthy career—he also worked at Laventhol  & Horwath, The Balcor Company and The Carey Winston Company—the EVP has accumulated expertise in repositioning, rebranding and capital expenditures, handling such assets as the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort in Maui, Hawaii; The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.; the New York Marriott Marquis; and the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort, among others. Now, Mason is looking forward to some of the new development CHMWarnick is wrangling.

“I like that kind of work; that’s really fun and challenging,” he said. And perhaps good for another 20 years or so.