Veteran corporate hotelier Joe Lavin has become an entrepreneur. The former Marriott International and Choice Hotels executive recently launched HarborStone Hospitality, a hotel development company targeting the Mid-Atlantic states and the limited-service and extended-stay segments. The company name is a variation of Stone Harbor, NJ, where Lavin has a second home.

“I've always wanted to be a developer, and the timing is right,” says Lavin, who most recently headed Marriott's ExecuStay corporate housing operation. “There's plenty of equity available, and my experience gives me the expertise to determine which deals make sense.”

Lavin is specifically looking at second- and third-tier markets he can drive to from his Maryland base and which have stable business generators or are currently underserved with limited-service or extended-stay product. On some deals, he'll partner with the Pomondon family as property operators.

“To be sure, there are challenges to developing hotels today,” says Lavin. “Material costs are rising and the right sites are difficult to find and secure, but no matter what today's environment is, it will be different tomorrow. I'm looking at a 20-year horizon with the projects I develop.”

Lavin recently completed a stint as Executive in Residence at Cornell's Hotel School. He's a Cornell alumnus, and his daughter is a junior in the hotel program. At Cornell, Lavin served as a guest lecturer on a variety of lodging industry topics, including development, corporate strategy and human resources.

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