Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and six hotel operators have launched the Curator Hotel & Resort Collection of small brands and independent lifestyle hotels.
“Curator is an owner-centric model, created by ownership groups and independent hotel managers and structured for the benefit of owners,” said Jon Bortz, chairman and CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and chairman of Curator. “Unlike existing collections, which acquire independent hotels and bring them under the parent brand’s umbrella, Curator members remain truly independent.” Curator, Bortz said, is meant to “amplify” the performance of its member hotels, and the platform is designed to provide owners with operating agreements, services and technology while allowing them to retain their identity. Quality assurance for member hotels will be determined by customer ratings rather than mandated standards, allowing the operating teams to focus on the guest experience rather than conforming to restrictive checklists, standards and rules.
The collection will charge a participation fee based on the revenues of each participating property, but Bortz said this fee is significantly less than membership fees for any existing collections. “Curator members will pay much less in fees to join, they’re not locked in with long-term contracts and they don’t have to conform to strict rating systems or brand standards, allowing them to retain their individuality,” Bortz said, noting that the soft brand’s team will work actively with each member hotel to enroll it in all of the programs and services available with membership.
Bortz expects to grow the collection rapidly thanks to a fast process for bringing new members in. “Curator will facilitate onboarding through a CRM that will include all of the resources available to Curator members,” he said. He also expects the soft brand to use its economies of scale advantage to provide its members with better and less expensive products and services. Curator will take care of vendor negotiations on behalf of its members, executing and managing portfolio-level agreements to help owners reduce operating costs and increase profit.
Members also will get shared business intelligence reporting, insights and proprietary tools and technology solutions, all of which will help guide and focus key operational activities and cost-saving efforts.
Creating the Collection
The collection, Bortz said, was more than a year in the making and predates the pandemic. “However, the pandemic has exacerbated the need for cost efficiencies as independent hotels work to stay afloat, so now is as good of a time as any to launch,” he said.
In addition to Pebblebrook, which owns a majority stake in the business, the founding members of Curator are Benchmark Global Hospitality, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Provenance Hotels, Springboard Hospitality and Viceroy Hotels & Resorts. “This group of companies came together based on relationships in the independent lifestyle hotel and resort space,” Bortz said. “Pebblebrook has longstanding relationships with these highly respected management companies, and their hotels are some of the best properties in the U.S. in terms of customer experience.” As of today, the seven founding members have pulled together a portfolio of more than 120 independent hotels and resorts throughout the United States, with more poised to participate over the next six to 12 months.
“Benchmark Global Hospitality is honored to be a visionary owner with Pebblebrook and a part of this prestigious group of respected operators launching this innovative, owner-centric collection,” Alex Cabañas, CEO of Benchmark Global Hospitality, said in a statement. “Without question, as the independent and lifestyle segments of our industry grow in response to consumer demand, Curator fills a need for those owners seeking a competitive advantage without sacrificing their independent edge.”
Pebblebrook is currently overseeing and assisting with the launch of Curator, but the collection is already staffed with its own team and has a board of directors for decision making and a board of advisors to help guide the path of the company. Bortz hopes to get the collection to 200 or more hotels within the next 12 months, and at least 100 per year thereafter to reach a near-term target of 400 to 500 properties.