Noble House Ready to Brand its Properties

Hits 17 Hotels and Climbing in 2012

Noble House Hotels & Resorts has added the 156-room Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale to its collection of managed properties. It’s the 17th property for the Seattle-based company which owns and manages boutique hotels and resorts spanning the four coastal corners of America. Properties include the newly-refurbished Riviera Palm Springs in California, The Edgewater in Seattle, and the Hotel Viking in Newport, R.I.

Having reached a critical mass, Noble House plans to tag its brand on its existing and future properties. As for future properties, the 30-year-old company plans to add three to five properties this year and grow to 30 over the next three years.

It’s hard to believe that the company’s entrée to the business was an accident. Its first property was practically a freebie. “We primarily bought a block of downtown Dallas because of the office space. The hotel was on the property,” says Patrick Colee, founder and chairman. “It was an old rundown landmark property that had a long history and was built by [beer baron] Aldophus Busch in 1912. We got the hotel for free and decided our company would do a hotel. It ended up being a major success nationally.”

Today, that hotel, The Adolphus, is a luxury property. While Noble House sold its interest, the Noble House legacy continues there.

“As a result of that we slowly got into the hotel business,” he says. “We bought a couple of hotels over the next five or six years, one in Seattle, one in LA. Both happened to be in locations with waterfront. We took an attitude that we wanted to become the community’s living room. We wanted to provide f&b that’s the best in the market. We wanted people to stay at our hotels to experience the culture, not to come to another box. We wanted them to experience the food, the history, the architecture, the interior design.”

“We’ve taken that attitude with all of our properties. If we go into market we want to own it,” says Colee. “As a result, we get a lot of awards for being the best. We can hire the best people when we’re number one in a market.”

And, so the story of a hotel owner/manager begins.

In the past, Colee says, Noble House lacked the critical mass to brand its hotels. “With the opportunities we’re working on we’ll shortly have enough hotels to be a company that people will know around the country,” he predicts. “In the past our only goal has been to celebrate that individual hotel. The success of the hotels has been that they’re independents. They’ll continue to be promoted the way they are with the name of hotel and the words ‘A Noble House Hotel.’”

This year’s growth is imminent. “We have a couple of people we’ve been talking to about buying a piece of their hotel,” says Colee. “What we’ve always done is buy existing properties, usually in locations that are irreplaceable, usually older buildings that you couldn’t build today, locations you couldn’t build today.”

For example, the 30-room Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is on a small island in the Florida Keys accessible only by boat or seaplane. History has it that water and power that were brought to the island for a movie mid-20th-century made it possible to develop a one-of-a-kind hotel there. “Nothing like this would ever be allowed to be built in the Florida Keys today,” says Colee of the fairytale setting. Average daily rate is, wait for it, $900.

The company is open to new builds and existing hotels. It plans to operate in both urban and resort markets. “We’re primarily known as a resorts group, but we understand the other markets and believe we should be in those markets as part of the process for growing the brand,” says Colee.

“Over the next few years our goals are New York, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco,” says Colee. “All those cities have a lot of leisure transit. Our goal would be to be about 35 to 45 percent leisure and 55 to 65 percent group and corporate. It has to be in the right kind of location. Otherwise we’d lose our sizzle.”

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