We are a lodging-focused real estate company that, as of February 26, 2010, owns a portfolio of 20 premium hotels and resorts that contain approximately 9,600 guestrooms. We are an owner, as opposed to an operator, of hotels. As an owner, we receive all of the operating profits or losses generated by our hotels, after we pay fees to the hotel manager, which are based on the revenues and profitability of the hotels.
Our vision is to be the premier allocator of capital in the lodging industry. Our mission is to deliver long-term shareholder returns through a combination of dividends and long-term capital appreciation. Our strategy is to utilize disciplined capital allocation and focus on acquiring, owning, and measured recycling of high quality, branded lodging properties in North America with superior long-term growth prospects and high barrier-to-entry for new supply. In addition, we are committed to enhancing the value of our platform by being open and transparent in our communications with investors, monitoring our corporate overhead and following sound corporate governance practices.
Consistent with our strategy, we continue to focus on opportunistically investing in premium full-service hotels and, to a lesser extent, premium urban limited-service hotels located throughout North America. Our portfolio of 20 hotels is concentrated in key gateway cities and in destination resort locations and are all operated under a brand owned by one of the leading global lodging brand companies (Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (“Starwood”) or Hilton Worldwide (“Hilton”)).
We differentiate ourselves from our competitors because of our adherence to three basic principles:
high-quality urban- and destination resort-focused branded hotel real estate;
conservative capital structure; and
thoughtful asset management.
High Quality Urban and Destination Resort Focused Branded Real Estate
We own 20 premium hotels and resorts in North America. These hotels and resorts are primarily categorized as upper upscale as defined by Smith Travel Research and are generally located in high barrier-to-entry markets with multiple demand generators.
ur properties are concentrated in five key gateway cities (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Atlanta) and in destination resort locations (such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Vail, Colorado). We believe that gateway cities and destination resorts will achieve higher long-term growth because they are attractive business and leisure destinations. We also believe that these locations are better insulated from new supply due to relatively high barriers-to-entry, including expensive construction costs and limited prime hotel development sites.
We believe that higher quality lodging assets create more dynamic cash flow growth and superior long-term capital appreciation.
In addition, a core tenet of our strategy is to leverage global hotel brands. We strongly believe in the value of powerful global brands because we believe that they are able to produce incremental revenue and profits compared to similar unbranded hotels. Dominant global hotel brands typically have very strong reservation and reward systems and sales organizations, and all of our hotels are operated under a brand owned by one of the top global lodging brand companies (Marriott, Starwood or Hilton) and all but two of our hotels are managed by the brand company directly. Generally, we are interested in owning hotels that are currently operated under, or can be converted to, a globally recognized brand.
Conservative Capital Structure
Since our formation in 2004, we have been committed to a flexible capital structure with prudent leverage. During 2004 though early 2007, we took advantage of the low interest rate environment by fixing our interest rates for an extended period of time. Moreover, during the peak years (2006 and 2007) in the commercial real estate market, we maintained low financial leverage by funding several of our acquisitions with proceeds from the issuance of equity. This capital markets strategy allowed us to maintain a balance sheet with a moderate amount of debt as the lodging cycle began to decline. During the peak years, we believed, and present events have confirmed, that it is not prudent to increase the inherent risk of a highly cyclical business through a highly levered capital structure.
We prefer a relatively simple but efficient capital structure. We have not invested in joint ventures and have not issued any operating partnership units or preferred stock. We endeavor to structure our hotel acquisitions so that they will not overly complicate our capital structure; however, we will consider a more complex transaction if we believe that the projected returns to our stockholders will significantly exceed the returns that would otherwise be available.
Thoughtful Asset Management
We believe that we are able to create significant value in our portfolio by utilizing our management team’s extensive experience and our innovative asset management strategies. Our senior management team has an established broad network of hotel industry contacts and relationships, including relationships with hotel owners, financiers, operators, project managers and contractors and other key industry participants.
In the current economic environment, we believe that our extensive lodging experience, our network of industry relationships and our asset management strategies position us to minimize the impact of declining revenues on our hotels. In particular, we are focused on controlling our property-level and corporate expenses, as well as working closely with our managers to optimize the mix of business at our hotels in order to maximize potential revenue. Our property-level cost containment efforts include the implementation of aggressive contingency plans at each of our hotels. The contingency plans include controlling labor expenses, eliminating hotel staff positions, adjusting food and beverage outlet hours of operation and not filling open positions. In addition, our strategy to significantly renovate many of the hotels in our portfolio from 2006 to 2008 resulted in the flexibility to significantly curtail our planned capital expenditures for 2009 and 2010.
We commenced operations in July 2004. Since our formation, we have sought to be open and transparent in our communications with investors, to monitor our corporate overhead and to follow sound corporate governance practices. We believe that we have the among the most transparent disclosure in the industry, consistently going beyond the minimum legal requirements and industry practice; for example, we provide quarterly operating performance data on each of our hotels enabling our investors to evaluate our successes and our failures. In addition, we have been able to acquire and finance our hotels, asset manage them, complete over $225 million of capital expenditures on time and on budget, and comply with the complex accounting and legal requirements of a public company with fewer than 20 employees. Finally, we believe that we have implemented sound corporate governance practices in that we have an active and majority-independent Board of Directors that is elected annually by a majority of our stockholders, we do not have any substantial corporate or statutory anti-takeover devices and our directors and officers own a meaningful amount of our stock.
As of December 31, 2009, we owned 20 hotels that contained 9,586 hotel rooms, located in the following markets: Atlanta, Georgia (3); Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois (2); Fort Worth, Texas; Lexington, Kentucky; Los Angeles, California (2); New York, New York (2); Northern California; Oak Brook, Illinois; Orlando, Florida; Salt Lake City, Utah; Washington D.C.; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Vail, Colorado.