Hospitality management company Charlestowne Hotels is priming itself for portfolio-wide growth in 2023—but not indiscriminately. As the company’s CEO Kyle Hughey notes, “The word for ’23 is ‘thoughtful.’ We’re not looking to fit into a box or rushing to take on properties that aren’t aligned with what we do well. We want to make sure that both parties are successful—the management company and the owner.”
To prepare the company for this thoughtful expansion, Charlestowne recently launched a phased realignment plan that is designed to allow the company to concentrate on asset development, retain more complex properties, focus on human resources and culture, and create more internal advancement opportunities for its associates. As such, the company added several new leadership positions to its corporate office, introducing nine new vice president and director roles over the past year to oversee department-level strategy.
The realignment plan grew out of necessity, Hughey explains. For the past three years, Charlestowne has been expanding its portfolio of independent luxury, lifestyle, and boutique hotels—properties that require significant time and resources to manage successfully. “We wanted to maintain our standards of managing well across all disciplines: marketing, revenue management, operations,” Hughey says. The realignment adds resources to the management level across disciplines to better serve properties and give owners and clients greater access to experienced individuals. Charlestowne is also doubling down on food and beverage support to help guide owners and staff at the property level; the company established a corporate F&B department and added multiple dedicated F&B support positions to its operations team.
By building out the management level and establishing more leadership positions, Charlestowne has created opportunities for upwards growth for associates who have been working with the company for years—a positive development that Hughey says is helping to drive company culture. To aid that momentum and continue developing talent amid industry-wide staffing challenges, Charlestowne is investing in the company’s human resources team and recently welcomed a new HR director and recruiter.
With the right people in the right positions, Hughey says, Charlestowne will be prepared to add to its portfolio when opportunities arise. “Growth can bring some pains, to be honest, and we want to get ahead of that. So that’s why we’ve got this alignment. We’re set with our teams across all disciplines and can take on more properties when it’s a good fit for both parties.”
The U.S. Southeast, where the company first started operating more than four decades ago, will continue to be a focus, as will re-establishing a presence in New England after several managed properties sold in that region, Hughey says. “We’d like to think that we worked ourselves out of a job,” he quips. “There was an opportunity and they sold at a high price after we got everything set for them.”
Overall, Hughey says, the company is well-positioned for 2023. “The elephant in the room is the potential recession… and obviously we’re keeping an eye on it, but we do feel good.” The team is taking measures to further tighten up and control expenses while maximizing revenue—“not to cut any services, but to just be efficient… to better serve owners.” Even with a potential economic slowdown on the horizon, Hughey anticipates a continuation of strong leisure demand in many of the drive-to markets throughout the U.S. Southeast where Charlestowne largely operates. Group business and corporate bookings may be slower to return, but the company’s portfolio is not overly dependent on those travel segments, Hughey says. “We think that Charlestowne Hotels is uniquely positioned where our markets should be able to absorb any kind of slowdown.”