GF Hotels & Resorts Appoints Ryan Alpert to Senior Vice President of Sales and Revenue Strategy

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 07, 2020  — GF Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel ownership and management company with more than 70 upscale and midscale U.S. hotels and resorts in its portfolio, recently announced the appointment of Ryan Alpert to Senior Vice President of Sales and Revenue Strategy, continuing to strengthen its skilled leadership team. 

Ryan brings with him direct experience in overseeing Sales & Marketing for a national portfolio of hotels valued at over $250 million. Additionally, he has held various positions throughout the hospitality industry including Vice President of Sales, Regional Director of Sales, Director of Sales & Marketing, Senior Sales Manager, Task Force Manager, and General Manager. 

Ryan, an experienced hotelier with over 20 years in the hospitality industry, joins the GF team on the heels of a company rebrand, announced in January. Since its founding, GF Hotels & Resorts has operated more than 500 hotels in 45 states, arming them each with an unparalleled level of experience and talent that has translated into superior hotel operations, smart partner relationships, industry success and award-winning guest satisfaction. The company aims to continue its legacy as a premier leader in the hospitality industry, recognized for providing exceptional experiences for both guests and employees.

In 2019, the company made several enhancements to its organizational structure to support its growth, including hiring hospitality industry veterans John Rubino, Chief Operating Officer of Managed Properties; Pete Doggett, Vice President of Operations; Jim Briggs, Executive Vice President of Operations; Heather Crosby, Corporate Director of Benefits; and Keith Schreiner, Director of Corporate Accounting.

“Ryan is a well-respected industry leader known for his ability to create and maintain strategic partnerships, as well as build authentic culture throughout the teams he leads,” said Ken Kochenour, Founder, President and CEO of GF Hotels & Resorts. “Ryan is an outside-the-box, creative thinker which will result in driving top-line revenues.”

Driven by his passion to serve others, Ryan is Co-Founder and President of the non-profit KRW Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting charities that target youth and community development in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Impressively, Ryan was named to the Northeastern Pennsylvania Business Journal’s ‘Top 20 Under 40’ for both his business success and philanthropic endeavors.

In his free time, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife, Megan, and their three children: Jack (11), Ben (9), and Audrey (4) in their hometown of Scranton, PA. The family is heavily involved with both travel baseball and basketball, and love to golf.

To learn more about Ryan Alpert, or the GF Hotels & Resorts’ rebrand, please contact Candice Kochenour, Agency Representative, at (610) 805-9086 or candice@wwhospitality.com.

About GF Hotels & Resorts
GF Hotels & Resorts, through its operating affiliates, is an award-winning, full-service hospitality ownership, management, and advisory company founded in 1988 and based in Center City Philadelphia. With approximately 70 hospitality assets under management, including hotels, resorts, conference centers, and golf courses in 21 states, GF Hotels & Resorts specializes in third-party management, asset management, and advisory services for a variety of individual, private, institutional and financial clients. Many of GF’s core hospitality assets within the portfolio are owned by its principals and therein provide the strength and balance of ownership and management.

GF believes in the entrepreneurial spirit with a promise of integrity and an overall passion for hospitality. Throughout its’ 32 years in business, GF has delivered superior results through positive operating and financial performance, implemented impactful capital strategies, dedicated itself to excellence in guest services, and focused on an unwavering commitment to cultivating longstanding relationships. Due to its proven successes, having recently won awards from Hotel Business MagazineHotel Management and Lodging Magazine, GF is known nationally as a distinguished leader throughout the hospitality industry.

 

The company is currently seeking to expand its portfolio of full-service ownership and management assignments through long-term contracts and joint-venture investment opportunities. For more information about GF Hotels & Resorts call 215-972-2235 or visit www.GFHotels.com.

Media Contact: Candice Kochenour
Agency Representative
610.805.9086
Candice@wwhospitality.com

GF Management Announces Rebrand to GF Hotels & Resorts

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 15, 2020 — GF Management, a leading hotel ownership and management company with more than 70 upscale and midscale U.S. hotels and resorts in its portfolio, today announced a company rebrand, including a name change to ‘GF Hotels & Resorts.’

The reimagined title reflects GF Hotels & Resorts’ evolution and refinement of its business strategy, and is the most recent move in the firm’s journey to further increase its operations beyond receiverships and turnarounds, and to enhance the wide range of hospitality management solutions it’s able to provide its clients and properties.

GF Management was founded in 1988, when Ken Kochenour, CEO, realized his dream of creating his own company. Kochenour found an investor to back the acquisition of his first property, the Holiday Inn in Harrisburg, PA, and GF Management officially came to fruition.

The 30 years that followed led the former GF Management to success through the management of a vast portfolio of hospitality assets, including hotels, resorts, conference centers, catering facilities, casinos and golf courses. During this time period, GF prevailed nationally and became well-known for providing superior hospitality management, ownership and consulting services, with a spotlight on its’ short-term third-party management, turnarounds and receivership capabilities.

In 2015, GF began to refine its business strategy and amplify its pursuit of long-term third-party management contracts and new development projects after acquiring several premium, full-service properties in primary and secondary markets. This change of strategy proved to be successful as reflected by the subsequent procurement of the 408-room Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca, Illinois; 299-room DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado Springs Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado; 353-room DoubleTree Orlando Airport, in Orlando, Florida; and the 308 room Courtyard Lake Buena Vista in Orlando FL. Additionally, the company expanded its regional support offices to Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Colorado. 

Today, the values of GF Hotels & Resorts stem from the Mission and Vision philosophies of the company: to provide superior hospitality property management, ownership and consulting services that yield sustainable profits for the company’s partners—by way of unrivalled guest services and nurtured employee growth, stemming from a genuine sense of responsibility.

“I can’t think of a more exciting time in our history,” said Kochenour. “We remain a beacon within the hospitality industry and see even further opportunities for growth. GF Hotels & Resorts will represent our evolution and the collection of services offered.”

Since its founding, GF Hotels & Resorts has operated more than 500 hotels in 45 states, arming them each with an unparalleled level of experience and talent that has translated into superior hotel operations, smart partner relationships, industry success and award-winning guest satisfaction. The company aims to continue its legacy as a premier leader in the hospitality industry, recognized for providing exceptional experiences for both guests and employees.

To learn more about the GF Hotels & Resorts’ rebrand, please contact Candice Kochenour, Agency Representative, at (610) 805-9086 or candice@wwhospitality.com.

About GF Hotels & Resorts
GF Hotels & Resorts, through its operating affiliates, is an award-winning, full-service hospitality ownership, management, and advisory company founded in 1988 and based in Center City Philadelphia. With approximately 70 hospitality assets under management, including hotels, resorts, conference centers, and golf courses in 21 states, GF Hotels & Resorts specializes in third-party management, asset management, and advisory services for a variety of individual, private, institutional and financial clients. Many of GF’s core hospitality assets within the portfolio are owned by its principals and therein provide the strength and balance of ownership and management.

GF believes in the entrepreneurial spirit with a promise of integrity and an overall passion for hospitality. Throughout its’ 32 years in business, GF has delivered superior results through positive operating and financial performance, implemented impactful capital strategies, dedicated itself to excellence in guest services, and focused on an unwavering commitment to cultivating longstanding relationships. Due to its proven successes, having recently won awards from Hotel Business MagazineHotel Management and Lodging Magazine, GF is known nationally as a distinguished leader throughout the hospitality industry.

The company is currently seeking to expand its portfolio of full-service ownership and management assignments through long-term contracts and joint-venture investment opportunities. For more information about GF Hotels & Resorts call 215-972-2235 or visit www.GFHotels.com.

Media Contact: Candice Kochenour
Agency Representative
610.805.9086
Candice@wwhospitality.com

GF Mangement Hires Emerging Leader, Jim Briggs As Executive Vice President of Operations

GF Management announced the appointment of Jim Briggs, an emerging hospitality leader, as Executive Vice President of Operations, strengthening its already experienced leadership team.

Mr. Briggs brings over 20 years of knowledge and experience to GF Management, having held a variety of key positions, including Director of Sales and Marketing, General Manager, Regional Director, Regional Vice President, Vice President of Operations, and Senior Vice President of Operations. Prior to joining GF, he oversaw a hotel portfolio compromised of over 80 hotels, bringing in $300M in managed revenue. He is well versed is all aspects of the industry, including guest services, human resources, accounting, finance, and growth of a team. Mr. Briggs has a track record of developing key initiatives to drive success of team members and portfolios of hotels.  Managing and ensuring compliance of new programs has improved communication between team members and hotel owners, paving the way for stakeholder alignment and providing efficiency in achieving goals.

“In our continued perseverance to grow our company, we’ve added another proven hospitality leader to our team. With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Jim Briggs has joined the GF Management executive team to help evolve our processes and to continue to drive performance,” said Nettie Cinquino, Chief of Staff at GF Management. “Jim has extensive experience working with all major brands along with managing portfolios of hotels for large private equity firms and publicly traded companies.”

About GF Management
GF Management, through its operating affiliates, is an award-winning, full-service hospitality ownership, management, and advisory company founded in 1988 and based in Center City Philadelphia. With approximately 70 hospitality assets under management, including hotels, resorts, conference centers, and golf courses in 21 states, GF Management specializes in third-party management, asset management, and advisory services for a variety of individual, private, institutional and financial clients. Many of GF’s core hospitality assets within the portfolio are owned by its principals and therein provide the strength and balance of ownership and management. The Company is currently seeking to expand its portfolio of full-service ownership and management assignments through long-term contracts and joint-venture investment opportunities. For more information about GF Management call 215-972-2235 or visit www.GFHotels.com.

Lisa Drake
Tel: (215)972-2235
Email: drakel@gfhotels.com

 

Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre to Undergo $8 Million Renovation Under New Management and Ownership

GF Management, a leading national hotel ownership and management company, announces that, through its affiliate (collectively, the “Company”), has acquired the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre, marking the Company’s fourth ownership venture in Orlando, Florida.

The acquisition of the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre continues to align with GF Management’s growth objectives and marks the fourth Marriott branded hotel owned by the Company.  The Company now owns and/or manages 12 hotels and resorts within the Marriott portfolio, consisting of nearly 3,500 guest rooms and suites.

“We are excited to add the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista to our expanding portfolio,” said Vineet Nayyar, Chief Operating Officer for GF Management. “We are confident the extensive renovation we have planned, along with the implementation of our proven management systems, will elevate this hotel to a leader in the market.”

Renovations at the 308-room Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre are due to begin this fall. The guest room refresh will further enhance its already celebrated experience—upgrades include converting all Double/Double guest rooms to Queen/Queen guest rooms, as well as adding new tile and luxurious glass-enclosed showers in all guest bathrooms. 

Focusing on revitalizing its curb appeal, the renovation will also include the reimagining of the exterior facade, new lighting highlighting its lush landscape, and outdoor pool improvements including the addition of a kids’ splash pool.

Lobby, restaurant, and bar renovations will follow, offering an open and active lobby concept, where guests can come together to meet, connect, or relax. A bistro will be added which will feature coffee, teas, lattes, frozen blended beverages, and more, will provide guests an opportunity to get a quick bite before a busy day.

Dream of an enchanting stay at Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre, located less than three miles from Walt Disney World.

GF Management has a long and distinguished history of award-winning renovations that reposition hotels as top performers in their markets.

GF Management Hires Hospitality Veteran, John Rubino, as Executive Vice President of Operations

GF Management announced the appointment of hospitality industry veteran John Rubino as Executive Vice President of Operations, adding another highly experienced executive to its leadership team.

Mr. Rubino brings over 35 years of experience, holding various industry positions including Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Operations, Regional Director of Operations, Area Manager, and General Manager, throughout his career. Prior to joining GF, Mr. Rubino directly oversaw a hotel portfolio valued at over $6.8B, comprised of over 300 nationally branded hotels. Well versed in culture cultivation and associate engagement, his nationwide team consisted of roughly 15,000 associates. He has opened more than 50 nationally branded hotels, transitioned over 300 hotels into one of the world’s largest third-party hotel management companies, assisted and directed hotels struggling with financial performance and meeting brands’ guest service standards.

Mr. Rubino served as Adjunct Faculty Member in Travel & Tourism, instructing students in Dining Room Management and Front Office Management for 8 years. He has also authored course books in Hotel Management for national educational organizations. He has participated in and holds seats on many influential councils and boards throughout the industry. Some notable seats include: New York City Hotel Association and President of Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau, along with internal company representation on the Affordable Care Act Committee, Chair of General Manager Advisory Council, Committee Member of the General Manager on-boarding program, and editor of “Eye on Service” newsletter.

“John has the leadership experience and a proven track record in focusing on long-term third-party management assets, which is exactly what we need to focus on our continued growth,” said Ken Kochenour, President & CEO, GF Management. “The addition of John to our executive team will allow us to aggressively grow our managed division while we continue to further expand our owned properties.”

Mr. Rubino holds a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from Pennsylvania State University’s School of Hospitality and Management.

Saving The Yorktowne: Unlikely story of how Hilton just might have saved a struggling city

, York Daily Record

The future of one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania was on the line. A surge of efforts to revive the faded downtown was in jeopardy. And few people recognized that the demise of a century-old hotel might doom the fate of York, Pa.

Hundreds of apartments and dozens of restaurants and retail shops had opened in recent years, but the Yorktowne Hotel remained on the sidelines – especially in the 18 months it sat vacant and under renovations.

Little support could be found to restore the historic hotel, replete with multiple ballrooms, a members-only dining room and 121 guest rooms that still — quaintly or archaically — used metal keys.

One proposal called for turning the Yorktowne into a boarding house, a home for transients, people stuck at the bottom of that ladder or clawing their way up.

On May 15, however, city leaders proudly announced a deal with Hilton that would reshape the Yorktowne as a modern, boutique hotel.

“It’s a real coup,” Silas Chamberlin, CEO of Downtown Inc. said.

The deal wasn’t an open-and-shut case either. This was Hilton Hotels –- the hospitality titan with more than 5,000 properties across 100 countries. This was the city of York, where national brands are rare, and include only basic names such as McDonald’s and Subway. Even those on the inside of the project weren’t completely confident until they neared the finish line.

So how did York, with its population of 43,000, woo Hilton? And how did this one project become so critical to the success of the city? This is a story of months of meetings, hundreds of documents and a lot of positive energy. And this is the story of the determination of a few people to make outside investors see the same potential in York that they did.

Laying the foundation

The Yorktowne Hotel opened in 1925 at South Duke and East Market streets.

In its heyday, it was the place to stay in York. If you were looking to hold a family reunion or a large dance, you did it at the Yorktowne. When politicians came to or through York on the campaign trail — as Bill Clinton did in 1992 – they stopped at the Yorktowne.

Sinatra. Cronkite. Tony Bennett. Lucille Ball. They stayed at the Yorktowne.

The Yorktowne went through changes over the years – such as the construction of a parking garage and seven-story addition in 1957.

The black-and-white terrazzo flooring was covered up by carpet, and several murals were hidden behind drop ceilings and sheetrock.

Hotel policy in its early years barred black people from staying there. Black musicians on tour would often stay at private homes instead.

A black bell captain once told a young Voni Grimes not to work at the Yorktowne because a black man could rise only so high there. But years later, when Grimes had achieved much working for other businesses in York County, he rose quite high at the Yorktowne — he made a room on the sixth floor his residence.

In 2010, the owners of the hotel, York Hotel Group, defaulted on a loan and owed $5.26 million to PNC Bank. The hotel narrowly avoided a sheriff’s sale six months later.

The hotel was eventually sold to Starwood Property Trust. The group purchased the property as part of a portfolio of properties and took the Yorktowne as a contingent to the deal, Jack Kay, chair of the York County Industrial Development Authority, said.

Starwood wasn’t out to get the Yorktowne. They didn’t even want the Yorktowne, but they had no option. It was a necessity for Starwood to acquire the other properties.

The Yorktowne was circling the drain — regular maintenance wasn’t happening, and there were no plans for a potential renovation or an update.

A past history of blight

Jack Kay had seen such plight before.

Around 2013, his real estate company, Susquehanna Real Estate, was contracted to make recommendations on the Hotel Sterling in Wilkes Barre.

The Sterling was built in 1897 and, like the Yorktowne, was once considered the city’s largest and most luxurious hotel.

But it was boarded up in 1998 after its owner failed to pay a $227,000 electric bill, local newspapers reported.

A small fire broke out in 2000.

And after a flood in 2011, it was finally condemned.

Kay’s group recommended removing the cancerous property – it had endured too much physical trauma and was left to rot for so long that it wasn’t financially feasible to save.

“It was such a blighting influence in that part of downtown, it could not be allowed to continue,” Kay said.

It was demolished in 2013, and the city holds a $570,000 lien on the site for the cost of the demolition. The Hotel Sterling site has had several potential projects eyed for the land, but the space remains vacant.

From guides to buyers

By 2015, Starwood was ready to unload the Yorktowne. The York County Industrial Development Authority and Kay, the chairman of the group, were watching, hoping to ensure a good outcome for whoever bought the property.

Starwood first listed the property for sale at $4.3 million and there were some prospects, Kay said, but the potential uses for the historic Yorktowne were not appealing.

One option was a low-end hotel, with little money slated for renovations – more boarding house than hotel, Kay said.

Other suitors also underwhelmed.

Kay remembered the fate suffered by Hotel Sterling.

“The property was too important and too critical… to let it just go by chance, particularly if there was a negative use that came from it,” Kay said. “It would take the air out of the balloon of everything going on, and that wasn’t going to be allowed to happen.”

So Kay led the charge for YCIDA to buy the Yorktowne. By the end of 2015, the deal was done.

In a sign of the depreciating value, the authority purchased the hotel for $1.8 million, just north of the $1.175 million it took to build it in 1925 and less than half of  the $4.3 million the hotel was originally listed at by Starwood.

The YCIDA had tackled other large projects – mainly the development of a minor league baseball stadium in York and Harley-Davidson’s ultra-modern West Campus just outside the city. Kay credits that new plant for Harley’s recent decision to divert jobs from Kansas City to York.

But the Yorktowne would be even larger, with an estimated $30 million budget.

An operator with a local touch

Ken Kochenour and GF Management kept an eye on the Yorktowne Hotel for more than a decade.

The company explored operating the property in the mid-2000s, but at the time, it made no financial sense, said Andy Taymans, vice president of asset and revenue management at GF.

But by late 2016, York was a different place, and when the YCIDA interviewed for operators, they threw their hat in the ring.

“York has come a long way in the last five years and we see it coming even further,” Taymans said. “We had the advantage of watching things over the years… the evolution of the restaurants downtown, the introduction of small breweries, the core of downtown being more walkable.”

About a dozen potential operators interviewed, Kay said, but GF stuck out for several reasons:

  • Both sides shared the view of a modern hotel that kept the Yorktowne’s history
  • GF Hospitality had prior experience working with top tier hotel brands, such as Hilton
  • They had experience in the area, previously owning a hotel along Route 30.

GF also had a champion for York in Kochenour – the co-founder of the company who grew up in York, graduated from York College and still works with the college.

“He’s always felt like whenever this made some sense, we wanted to be a part of it,” Taymans said. “It’s a matter of pride for your hometown and being able to do something and bring something back.”

Kay recognized the company’s commitment immediately.

“They knew the York market,” Kay said. “The York connection, while of itself wasn’t the deciding factor, it was helpful in getting comfortable with them.”

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