One on one with Pyramid Global Hospitality's Warren Fields

Compared to many leaders in the industry, Warren Fields keeps a relatively low profile. The CEO of Pyramid Global Hospitality isn’t onstage at every conference, there aren’t a million articles that appear in an online search for his name—he prefers to let the success of his company tell his story. And with the company on track to reach 250 properties in its portfolio—it’s at 230 currently—that story is only getting better.

But Fields didn’t spring fully formed as leader of one of the largest management companies in the United States. He’s originally a Midwesterner, via Pittsburgh and Cleveland, moving to Boston as freshman in high school.

“My father was a salesman, my mother was a schoolteacher. We were solid middle class,” Fields said. “I never grew up having any wants, but we didn’t have a lot. I knew my parents loved me and it gave me self-confidence. I had a sister and family was a big part of growing up. I grew up Catholic, went to church, was an altar boy. Nothing out of the ordinary … working hard and doing the right thing were cornerstones of me growing up.”

After high school, Fields attended Cornell University, but he didn’t consider himself “the epitome of what a hotel student was.”

“It happened to be the best school I got into. It turned out the industry worked for me. I have sort of a real estate bent and there’s obviously real estate in hospitality. It’s more of an operating business, which most people forget.”

Fields said Cornell’s greatest gift was to teach him critical thinking.

“It’s the largest of the Ivy Leagues and they don’t care whether you do well or not,” he said. “There were a lot of freshmen in my class and then the second year they weren’t there. It’s not like some of the other Ivy League schools where once you’re in you stay in. Cornell, at times, can be ruthless. But that’s what life is. I was very fortunate to go there and fortunate to go to the hotel school because hotel school is really an undergraduate business degree that just happens to focus on hospitality. That has helped me a lot.”

Real-World Experience

Warren Fields
Warren Fields (Pyramid Global Hospitality)

Fields graduated without a job in the hotel industry, which he said was almost unheard of because Cornell had a placement rate approaching 100 percent. But that was by design.

“The challenge I had was, I just didn’t want to go into a training program to be stuck in Oshkosh, Wis., or Norman, Okla., and not know whether or not the person who I was going to be working for would … help me or not, so that didn’t appeal,” he said. “I always figured I could go to Boston or New York and find a job. It took me a little while, but in October of ’85, I started working for Beacon Companies, which [was] the largest real estate development organization in the city of Boston at the time, probably New England. They had started a hotel company called Beacon Hospitality Group.”

Fields’ first job was as a restaurant manager, then at a hotel, then he applied to business school. When he told Beacon he was leaving, they convinced him to join the head office as an analyst instead.

“And then I was off to the races,” Fields said. “It was the choice of either going to school or getting real-world experience—and to be perfectly frank, I wasn’t the greatest student anyway, so it was probably better for me to just go be an analyst.”

At Beacon, Fields moved from analyst to VP of development for Guest Quarters Hotels and later DoubleTree, moving to VP of development and operations at Promus Hotel Corp. In 1999, he formed Pyramid Hotel Group with Richard Kelleher and Jim Dina. In 2021, Pyramid Global Hospitality was formed with the merger of Pyramid Hotel Group and Benchmark Global Hospitality.

The Lure of Hospitality

Fields’ experience makes a number of industries a fit for his skills, but hotels have been his focus.

“I’ve been fortunate in that ... the people that I’ve been associated with, the people that are in our organization—all are striving to reach this sort of fleeting excellence that’s almost impossible to attain. But if you continue to strive for it, you will always get better,” he said. “That’s what I think keeps me in the business. Plus, it’s fun. You think about all the things that we do in our industry and the places that we go and the characters that are in our business. Why wouldn’t you want to be in this business?”

One of Fields’ goals this year is to improve each and every employee, in turn making Pyramid Global a stronger management company.

“It’s holding them accountable, it’s giving them the tools, it’s providing the guidance, it’s helping them learn,” he said. “We have this people-first mentality—if we get all the things right from an employment perspective, we will become the employer of choice. If we become the employer of choice, guess what, we become the manager of choice because we’ll be doing all the things right at the property level and the performance will be there. Owners of hotels will seek us out, which is starting to bear fruit.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be the biggest hotel management company on the planet but we can do the most interesting [hotels and] be involved in some really cool projects. [We can] add hotels that our operating teams can run and run really well.”


Headquarters: Boston

Structure: Management company

Portfolio: 230 hotels; 47,000 guestrooms