In the first three posts of this series we reviewed location, brand selection, and financing the project. Now we move into the heart of the hotel development process.

Development

Getting through site selection, brand negotiations, and financing the project are no small feat but once this is done, the development process can truly begin in earnest. Construction can only start after the hotel site is fully entitled, designed, budgeted, and permitted. Sea Glass Hospitality Partners can work with ownership through every step of this process including negotiating with local authorities as the permitting office and local inspector can be valuable allies throughout construction.

For branded hotels the project will benefit from a defined set of plans that will serve as a template for the ultimate hotel design. For example, if the proposed hotel will be a Hampton Inn, a Hilton brand, Hilton will provide the template for the hotel including basic specs, drawings, and a detailed listed of furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) and operating supplies and equipment (OS&E) required for the hotel. As such, the design process from architecture to interior design to landscape architecture is streamlined and rather straightforward not withstanding local or state ordinances that may require certain modifications. This process can also prevent scope creep or overbuilding because the brand will only permit certain features for each flag, e.g., a Hampton Inn has a limited breakfast offering detailed by the brand vs. a Hilton Hotel that has a full-service restaurant that is open 3 meals per day. Another example is there is a slowly emerging trend of adding game rooms to hotels including a few TVs and video game consoles. While this may be an interesting idea for your hotel, depending on the brand you select, this may or may not be allowed. Again, this isn’t to stifle creativity but rather to keep the hotel project on target, within brand standards, and ultimately to assist ownership with keeping the budget in line.

Having an operator onboard from the get-go will ensure that any site-specific modifications that may be required provide for operational efficiency that will result in increased performance and by extension, increased asset value. Not only does Sea Glass Hospitality Partners have expertise in this area, but its strategic partnerships with key industry players provide for a seamless experience for ownership. Through these relationships Sea Glass Hospitality Partners and its partners can serve as the project managers, bring on the General Contractor, and manage the entire development process on behalf of ownership. We can also act as the liaisons with the brand to ensure that the development process is as efficient as possible including brand required review of drawings before construction, typically at the 30% and 90% stages of completion. Although the additional steps required by the brand can be viewed as a delay in the process, it is quite beneficial because the brand provides another set of qualified eyes using their internal designers, architects, and engineers. Costly mistakes can be avoided that can mitigate numerous change orders after construction begins.

Once construction has commenced, the brand has several specific hurdles and site visits before approving the next stage of completion. Again, while it can seem that the brand is usurping the process, hotel developers should look at this as beneficial because they need to remember that they are building what will be an operating business upon completion. The brand is compelled to see the hotel succeed so this extra set of checks provides for better operational efficiency down the line ultimately resulting in increased asset value. Sea Glass Hospitality Partners can serve as the brand intermediary coordinating all site visits and needs from the brand. After all, good relations with the brand during construction results in a stronger opening and when modifications may be necessary, it facilitates a more constructive dialogue that can be beneficial to ownership. And remember, this is not only to get construction completed and the hotel open, but also to assist with operations once the hotel is up and running.

The last post in this series will focus on preparing the hotel for successful operations once complete.