Saturday, December 31, 2011


As 2011 draws to a close amidst the lights and gala of the holiday season, I would like to acknowledge and thank each of you, our associates, coaches,  team leaders and participants, board members, vendors, franchise partners, family and friends who have helped make this year extra special.

In spite of one of the worst economies in many of our lifetime Hotel Equities saw our portfolio grow by more than thirty percent. Thank you for your continued dedication and support.

May the beauty and memories of the holidays inspire gratitude for yesterday, joy for today and hope for the New Year to come.

Coach Fred

Friday, December 30, 2011


As we close out another chapter in the life of Hotel Equities [HE] entitled 2011, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the many accomplishments and milestones which our team realized this year. Here is a brief summary of some of our achievements:

We added 19 hotels and will close the year with 42 hotels in our portfolio. Our revenues will top $61 million. HE will close the year with approximately 1,000 associates in our growing HE family.

We added another state and now have hotels in the six states of GA, FL, NC, VA, AL, and LA.

HE held our first annual Maintenance Chief’s meeting at The Lodge at Simpsonwood which was a huge success according to all attendees. This event was hosted by Phil Bullard, our Facilities Coach.

We hosted 30 classes with approximately 900 students in attendance at Hotel Equities University. We renamed and re-launched the Foundations Class [formerly known as Culture Class] and will hold 7 classes this year.

With the help of our Training and People Development Coach, Nancy Curtin Morris, we re-launched our Management Development Program which will see its first class graduate in July of 2012. Eleven extremely talented individuals qualified for the first class. A new class will begin every 6 months in order to keep pace with our forecasted growth plans.

We saw one of our hotels, the Hampton Inn in Okeechobee, Florida receive the Connie Award, named after Hilton founder Conrad Hilton. The Connie Award is the highest award a hotel can receive within the Hilton family of hotels. Our Okeechobee hotel was one of seven honorees out of a total of 2100 hotels in the Hampton franchise system.

Hotel Equities received its 10th General Manager of the Year award this year when Troy Moser walked across stage as the recipient of this prestigious honor at the annual General Manager’s conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Troy is the GM of the Fairfield Inn in Lumberton , NC.

We completed another successful year of operating three training hotels for Marriott: the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in Dunwoody, GA; the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Kennesaw, GA; and the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Alpharetta/Milton, GA. Kudos to our training hotel GM’s Kenny Silvia, Cailin Riddell and Mike Poe and their staffs as well as to our Training Manager, Ken Ramsey.

We successfully completed the renovation of our corporate offices which included the addition of 10 new work stations to accommodate our projected growth plans.

Our coaching staff completed another year of hosting Life Lessons over Lunch [LLOL] which included a career transition training opportunity for those individuals who are unemployed in our neighboring community of Dunwoody, GA where our corporate office is located. LLOL hosted approximately 1500 people who were in work-place transition this year.

InStep and our corporate chaplain, Rev. Greg Smith, conducted mission and leadership training trips to China, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. InStep and other non-profit organizations continue to receive support from the corporate tithes of Hotel Equities. Greg also hosts the 24-hour prayer line which is available to all guests and associates of HE. Greg visits our hotels regularly, prays for our guests and associates, and is available to those who may be in need of spiritual counseling. Through our Chaplain’s program HE has distributed more than 10,000 Purpose Driven Life booklets and Journey Books. HE is one of ten sponsors for the Atlanta Hospitality in Ministry Prayer breakfast which saw 400 in attendance this year. 

HE GM’s and Coaches packed more than 150 shoeboxes for the Samaritan’s Purse organization’s Operation Christmas Child.

In 2012 HE will serve as a doctoral study program in corporate chaplaincy for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

This year we hosted approximately 850,000 guests in hotels either owned and/or managed by Hotel Equities, many of whom heard the often stated HE-favored phrase , “Thank you for staying with us. We know you had a choice. Thank you for choosing us.”

HE sponsors a weekly on-line Bible study for HE women hosted by Ruth Kornegay with 36 participants. Ruth continues to host the HE e-mail Prayer Chain with approximately 50 HE associates participating.

We donated hundreds of pounds of used soap to The Global Soap Project, a ministry which accumulates used soap bars from hotels and re-manufactures them into new soap bars which are then shipped to countries with under privileged people to help prevent disease. The Global Soap Project was one of 10 finalists of CNN Heroes in 2011.

Several of our hotels will end this year ranked among the top 10% of their respective brands. Two of them will end the year amongst the top 5 hotels of their entire respective brand.

HE associates continue to be invited to serve on several hospitality boards throughout the industry.

Thank you for your continued dedication, support, and efforts on behalf of our company. You inspire me to want to grow more and to continue to attempt great things for God. May He receive the honor and glory. Coach Fred

Monday, December 5, 2011


Honesty recently cost a family $50,000. Eleven-year-old Nate Smith shot a hockey puck 89 feet into a 3.5-inch hole in a board laid over the mouth of the goal. For this remarkable feat, he won $50,000 from contest organizers. However, his twin brother Nick was supposed to take the shot; his name was on the ticket that Nate used. No one but the family knew. They could have pocketed their money and kept their secret. But their father, Pat Smith, chose instead to notify contest organizers. The promoters then decided not to give the money to the Smith family, donating $40,000 instead to youth hockey leagues in Minnesota. What was Pat's motivation? He wanted to teach a lesson to his sons: "They learned that honesty is always the best policy, and you can never go wrong telling the truth." His strategy apparently worked, as Nate responded, "Some people wouldn't tell the truth, so it's cool that we did." By contrast, consider the story of a frontier preacher and his two sons who found a stray dog and decided to keep it. The dog was coal black except for three white hairs on his tail. One day they saw an ad in the local paper for a lost dog that fit their stray perfectly, including those three white hairs. With the help of his boys, the preacher carefully pulled out the three white hairs. A few days later the owner heard that the preacher had a dog like his and came by. But he couldn't find the three white hairs, so he had to give him up. Later the preacher wrote, "I kept the dog, but I lost my boys." Their names were Frank and Jesse James. Character has consequences. Attitudes become thoughts, which become words, which become actions, which become habits, which become character, which determines destiny. Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that "character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think." Abraham Lincoln agreed: "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." What would others say about the fruit growing on the tree of your character?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It is rare to find leaders who are consistent winners. Bobby Cox is one of those rare finds. He was instrumental in the Atlanta Braves winning 14 consecutive National League Division Series titles {excluding the MLB strike year of 1994]. Yogi Berra, one of my favorite baseball player’s and philosophers once said, “You can observe a lot by watching”. We can learn a lot from a leader like Bobby Cox.

Here’s what I observed by watching Bobby;

1-Nice guys make great leaders……Bobby was considered a player’s coach who always “went to bat” for his players. In doing so, he also won the distinction of being tossed out of more games than any other Manager in MLB history. I think it’s a good thing to want to protect your player’s and to want to take the heat and suffer the consequences for having taken that stance. It has been said that “nice guys never win”. Bobby has proven “them” wrong since according to most of his player’s, Bobby was a nice guy. And in being such, he was rewarded by extra effort from those who played for him. His teams benefited and they won.

2- Not everyone wants a boss, but who doesn’t want a coach…….No amount of abuse can make an ordinary employee/player into a terrific performer. Just because you carry the title of boss, doesn’t mean you have to be demeaning and act like you have all the answers to all of the questions. You can ask for and listen to the opinions of others and then make a decision because you have to, because you are the boss, and that’s what bosses must do. But in doing so, you can make a decision that is properly balanced on behalf of all key stakeholders and one that is in the best interest of the team.

3-If you believe in the people you lead, they will believe in you……If your employees are doing their best, always back them and let them know you believe in them. Bobby, in my opinion had one of his best years as Manager in his final year in 2010. After the team suffered several injuries to key players and everyone thought the season would become a total lost, Bobby and his team fought on throughout the season nearly overcoming the impossible to compete for the Division Series title right up until the very end.

4-Extraordinary leadership can inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things……On paper, Bobby didn’t always have what appeared to be the best team in the division. But their performance on the field left people scratching their heads since they performed beyond everyone’s wildest imagination.

5-If you look for the best in others, you will often find it…..Bobby was a positive person who brought others up, unlike many managers who are negative people who bring others down. He could see the good in most situations. He had remarkable fortitude to succeed and the proper amount of patience in order to see things “play out”. He was a great communicator who was friendly to everyone he came in contact with. And, his door was always open to his players, coaches and anyone else who needed to chat.

If we treat our employees like Bobby Cox treated his players, we too can be a treasure and be remembered as someone special. And be missed, just like him.

Monday, October 17, 2011


"America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein" said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his tribute to Steve Jobs.

As you know, the 56-year-old founder of Apple died this week. President Obama paid tribute: "Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it." Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thanked Jobs "for showing that what you build can change the world."

A colleague who worked with him for 17 years picked up that theme: "Try to imagine today's society if Steve didn't exist." What would be different? Technologists have composed a list of his unique contributions:

Making computers accessible to non-technical people with MacIntosh
Reinventing the music industry with iPod and iTunes
Revitalizing animation with Pixar
Reinventing the personal communications industry with iPhone
Changing the way we consume media with iPad
Changing the way software and hardware are sold
Forever altering the language of computer interfaces
Building Apple from nothing into the second-most valuable company in the world.

If he were responsible only for the MacBook, or the iPod, or ITunes, or the iPhone, or the iPad, his death would be global news. That he led in the creation of all five justifies the consensus that Steve Jobs was a true genius.

Reading these tributes sparked this question for me: What if I had never existed? How would the world be different? If I died today, what headlines would the event generate? Have I done anything unique, or significant, or lasting? Have you?

Absolutely. We exist for a reason. God didn't make us because the world needed another human. Our planet is home to 6,966,778,621 people as of this moment; it didn't need one more. I'm not here because we were running short on hoteliers. You and I exist because the Lord of the universe wanted us to exist. We are his unique creation. We possess gifts and capacities which no other person has been given in precisely the same way. We have a calling and purpose which no other person can fulfill.

The world will miss Steve Jobs. One day it will miss us as well. In the meantime, let's run our race well.

Excerpts from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture by Dr. Jim Denison

Friday, July 1, 2011


These are tough times. In spite of its sustained attempts at recovery, the U.S. economy is still struggling. Unemployment remains close to 9.5%. Consumer confidence remains shaken by the continued weakening of housing values which represents much of the wealth accumulation of the middle class.

As for the hotel business, we are trying to get traction and to return to a state of normalcy. The challenge in this recovery is in trying to grow rate. Demand is attempting to come back and, in some markets, we are beginning to get traction with our mid-week business travel patterns. Leisure still remains “iffy” due to the uncertainty of gas prices and continued pressures on spendable income. We are hoping to avoid $4 per gallon gas prices this summer which some areas have already seen for a few weeks in late spring/early summer. We remain hopeful that people will not again “stay-cation” this year but, will instead, venture out and enjoy a much-needed vacation break.

As for Hotel Equities, we have been extremely fortunate. We have managed to stay buoyant and have added 15 new deals so far this year through mid June. Some of those deals are new development projects which we will not see come out of the ground until financing loosens up and the money supply is more plentiful. Construction prices are creeping up as material costs continue to climb. Many of our new deals are third party management assignments as the demand for our award winning management services remains high. During this time of uncertainty, owners and lenders seek quality hotel operators with proven management systems and solutions to help them weather the storm.

I love what Warren Buffet said about what occurs when inexperienced management teams face turbulent times… “ You can tell who is swimming naked when the tide goes out”.

As for the hotel business in particular, all boats float similarly during various tides. In other words, all hotels are impacted by similar economic swings. The reason why we are busier than most companies is, in my opinion, due to a “flight to quality” which we are experiencing in our industry. These times of turbulence and uncertainty have given Hotel Equities an opportunity to excel and be recognized for its award winning approach to operational excellence, while consistently delivering on our commitment to exceed the expectations of our three key stake holders; our guests , our associates and our investors.

To all of our great Hotel Equities’ team members……Thank you for helping us not swim naked.

Monday, June 6, 2011


As I write this, we are in the midst of celebrating Memorial Day weekend 2011. I can't help but be reflective of the sacrifices of our veterans in order for us to be free. I have come to learn in my life that freedom is not free, in fact it is costly.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I was the Resident Manager of a 744 all suite hotel in Miami, Florida during an interesting time in our country's history, the late 60's and early 70's. In addition to hosting the major candidates of both the Democratic and Republican party's national conventions in 1972 [see earlier blog entitled "The best room in the house"], and having a red phone on my desk which went straight to the White House [see earlier blog entitled "Answer the phone"], our hotel played a major role in the re-indoctrination process following the release of the U.S. POW's at the end of the Vietnam war.

The "red phone" rang in early March of 1973. The coordinator at the other end asked if I could do our country a favor. Of course I said yes, wouldn't you? He said he was in charge of transporting some American POW's back to the U.S. and that he wanted them to have a period of re-indoctrination back into civilian life before they were released to visit with their families. Since I had recently completed my 6 year military stint in the USMCR, he asked if I could gather some trusted staff and friends to play "host" to the recently released former prisoners of war. He said the assignment would include some engaging conversation, some recreation [golf], and some dining and social event gatherings.

With only a few days notice my staff and I immediately went into "emergency event" mode. For you non hoteliers, that means "do everything you possibly can to avoid a major crisis while pulling off the nearly impossible" mode.

The first night we hosted a cocktail party out at the large pool deck which surrounded our salt water pool [there was a fresh water one as well]. Things appeared to be going well as the former POW's enjoyed specially prepared "light on the alcohol" cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Then, all of a sudden all heck broke loose as a gigantic 747 airplane filled the sky which had just taken off from Miami airport took a flight path which led it to fly directly over the hotel at a climbing but still lower than usual altitude. As its engines roared overhead, I heard shouts of "it's a plane"! I then couldn't believe my eyes as almost all 22 of our honored guests dropped glasses, plates, food and whatever else they were carrying at the moment and dove under the tables and chairs which surrounded the pool deck.

I was certain that we had thought of everything, the music, the specially prepared food and drinks, the hand-picked guest list, the casual conversation rehearsal, the "private party" atmosphere but not this.

Unbeknownst to us, the former POW's were apparently quite used to this routine and practiced it regularly whenever unidentified aircraft flew over their prison camp. Amidst a few muffled chuckles they gathered themselves. Each wore a rather sheepish and somewhat embarrassed facial expression as everyone tried their best to get things back to a normal, less awkward state.

Well, all of our guests survived. The rest of the evening and the following two days were rather uneventful and our VIP guests left the hotel having had a slight taste of how the world had changed during their time in captivity. Are you thankful for your freedom?

Monday, May 16, 2011


Have you ever visited a cemetery for the sole purpose of reading the tombstones?

You can tell a lot about a person by his or her tombstone. Jim Denison tells about one of his favorites in a recent blog. He read an inscription on a tombstone while he was visiting in New England which said, “I told you I was sick, Elizabeth.” Above a grave in Burlington, Vermont reads these words: “She lived with her husband for fifty years and died in the confident hope of a better life.” Another reads: “Here lies an atheist; all dressed up with no place to go.” And yet another one from Springdale, Ohio reads: “Here lies Jane Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, marble tomb stone cutter. This monument was erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory and as a specimen of his work. Monuments of the same style are $350. For more information call 515-5155”

Christine and I went to Italy for the first time in 2009. While we were there we made an attempt to look into my family heritage. We learned that the records of the town of Isle de Liri, where my grandfather was born and raised, were destroyed in a flood back in the late 1920’s. Since my grandfather and grandmother had come to the U.S. in 1906, their recorded information had been destroyed as well. The young man at the town hall office suggested that we visit the cemetery which was located high above the town in a remote but dry place. We found numerous tombstones bearing my family name. It was an experience which was both emotional and heartwarming.

Have you ever noticed that virtually all tombstones have the year of the person’s birth and the year of their death. Between those dates sits a dash which when you think about it, represents their time here on earth or in essence their life.

One thing we all have in common is the desire to have made an impact during our life. I don’t think anyone cares to leave this place without believing that they had made a difference. Some people are more intentional about that than others, but the fact remains that we all only have a rather short time to make our mark.

People living now have the benefit of modern medicine and as a result are living longer. I read a story recently about a centenarian who was asked about the benefits of living to be a hundred years old. She smiled and said, “There’s very little peer pressure.”

Regardless of your longevity, what’s your dash going to say about you?

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Did you hear about the thieves who reported themselves to the police? They were trying to break into an office building a few days ago in Cologne, Germany when their elevator became stuck. They couldn’t get out, so they finally used the elevator’s emergency phone to call the authorities. Firemen freed the two men and they were immediately arrested.

I know the feeling. When I was working at my first hotel, a high-rise hotel of 29 stories, I found myself stuck in the elevator on the 25th floor. I remember having to talk myself into remaining calm. Since I was the Assistant Manager [MOD} on call at the time , I didn’t think it would be too cool if I lost my cool. I too was rescued by firemen, but fortunately not arrested.

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator? If so, perhaps you had a similar experience.

I’m not a big fan of all the seemingly frivolous laws that our state and national representatives enact for us to live by but, whoever decided on making it a law to have phones in elevators did good by me.

I sleep pretty well most nights but when I do have a nightmare, it is most often about being stuck in an elevator in a really tall building.

I’m glad hotels don’t have a 13th floor. That would just add to my weirdness about lifts.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in a hotel, particularly one you manage. The good is that the commute is quite tolerable, in this case an elevator ride. The bad is that you are “available” 24/7.

My wife Christine reminded me one day that I had gone 21 straight days without going out of the hotel. You might ask, how is that possible? While we were based in Miami and with The Sheraton Corporation and we lived in a hotel that was like a small city. The Sheraton Four Ambassadors Hotel contained 744 suites, 7 restaurants, 3 bars, men’s and ladies shops and salons, 2 large ballrooms, a 522 foot lobby [the largest of any hotel in the world], a spa, a yacht club and employed 450 associates. It was easy for me to become distracted for rather long periods of time and caught up in my work as there was plenty of it. We lived in the hotel on the 21st floor of tower two [there were 4 towers] overlooking Biscayne Bay.

In October of 1971, I was still a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and had been on reserve training all weekend. I had completed my duty around 6pm Sunday night and came home for a late dinner with my wife and two young daughters. I left our suite about 9:30pm to check in with all the various outlets and departments of the hotel. I returned to our suite after completing my nightly rounds around 11:30pm. Christine and the girls were already asleep, so I tried my best to not disturb them while I crawled in to bed. At 12:45 am the phone rang. Christine answered it as usual since it was located on her side of the bed. I knew a phone call couldn’t be good news at that early hour of the morning but when I heard her say, “Oh my God!”, it was confirmed that it was not going to be a fun day.

I leaped from bed and dressed hurriedly. Christine paced nervously as I finished dressing. When I asked her where I was going, she replied, “There has been a shooting in the North Ballroom and several people have been shot”. As I raced to the elevator from our suite, I heard her faint voice say, “Be careful”.

When the elevator cab reached the first floor lobby level, there were already several employees anxiously awaiting my arrival. They filled me in as best they could as I raced towards the ballroom. They had assured me that the police had already been called and were on their way. As I approached the north end of the lobby, I could hear shots still being fired. My adrenaline was racing as all I could think of was, “How dare someone hurt my employees and guests”. And then, I witnessed the bloodiest, most chaotic scene I had ever encountered in my life. I thought I had seen a lot between my Marine Corps training and my years in management of large full-service hotels, but none of that had prepared me for this.

People were screaming and frantically running everywhere. Several had been shot and were slumped over in lobby chairs and sofas either in shock or in pain. I did the only thing I knew to do since I didn’t know exactly what was going on, I yelled at the top of my lungs for everyone to get out of the area and to seek cover. When I ran into the ballroom, I found two of my bartenders curled tightly inside one of the portable bars in a corner of the room. I asked loudly, “What happened”? They said that two men had come in to the ballroom and just started shooting at members of the wedding party. I then saw a very large man who was crawling on the floor on all fours one minute and then leaping abruptly the next, knocking over tables and chairs alike as he lurched up and forward with each effort to stand up. I determined that he had been shot in the back.

As I returned to the lobby, I encountered another man who had been shot in the neck and as I approached him he went running out the front door of the hotel. I watched as he ran down the well lit, elevated and lushly landscaped main entranceway to the hotel. I could hear the sirens getting closer and see the flashing lights now and calculated that the police would surely encounter him as they approached the scene. I remember thinking how surreal this all was and how time seemed to be moving at a slowed pace. I couldn’t wait for the authorities to get there to help the injured and to help me sort out what had happened.

Get there they did, and in full force . There were 10 police cars , 3 fire engines, 4 ambulances and an assortment of other official looking vehicles.

After the police had captured one of the alleged shooters and completed questioning of him as well as numerous members of the wedding party, it was determined that the wedding party had consisted of several members of the “Cuban Mafia”. According to the authorities, they had apparently overstepped their boundaries in to the drug territory of the “Puerto Rican Mafia” and as a result had been targeted for assassination.

Once help had arrived and all of the injured were attended to, I proceeded to assess the physical damages to the hotel. The hotel lobby and ballroom looked like a war zone. There was blood everywhere. Authorities counted 21 bullet holes in the walls of the lobby and ballroom. A total of seven people had been shot, one had died from his wounds.

I remembered that we had a large convention checking in that afternoon and it was now just after 2am. We had a lot of work to do to get the hotel ready for our arriving guests as well as those already in house who would be wanting to go about their business in a few short hours. I asked all of the major department heads to report to work immediately. Our Executive Housekeeper also lived in the hotel and was quickly on the scene. She contacted a contract cleaning company to assist with the work load. The Chief Engineer went into immediate action as well. He played the role of a general contractor as he arranged for dry wall and wall vinyl repairs, painters and an army sized clean-up crew. The goal was clear. We had to turn a major crime scene back into a fully functioning convention hotel in a few short hours.

At approximately 7:30am the army of workers had completed what was nothing short of a miraculous feat. The lobby was pristine clean, the bullet holes were repaired and all wall surfaces were recovered in vinyl and repainted.

What a night! I now knew where I was going. I was headed upstairs for a few hours of much needed sleep.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Answer the phone!

One of my pet peeves is to be in a hotel lobby and to hear a phone ringing numerous times. When I was the Resident Manager of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors Hotel in Miami, I used to remind our desk staff that the guest who was standing in front of them could tell if they were busy but the person on the phone couldn’t. After several rings the guest on the phone is left to assume that we are either too busy, poorly trained or just not interested in their business.

As you will recall, Richard Nixon won the Presidential election in 1972. While he was in office, his “Summer White House” was located on Key Biscayne just over the Biscayne Causeway Bridge east of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors Hotel and the city of Miami. Whenever President Nixon visited Key Biscayne, members of the Secret Service, FBI, White House Press Corps and other dignitaries would stay at our hotel. The typical room block request was between 125 and 150 rooms. As you can imagine, it took no small effort to coordinate the arrangement of accommodations for everyone involved. A tremendous behind the scenes coordination effort was put forth by the advance team of the White House as well as the hotel staff. This included the selection of specific highly trained staff members who underwent frequent background checks and screening prior to each official visit.

The coordination of arrangements, some of which included the blocking of parking, meeting and banquet space, special food selection and preparation, pre-blocking of room accommodations and numerous security related issues were time consuming and required intense diligence. In order to help facilitate the process, a specially designated phone was installed in the hotel with a direct line to the White House. The phone sat atop my desk and was the topic of many interesting conversations amongst my staff. Some of them would stand at my door and stare at the phone as if it was an antique Cuckoo Clock about to engage in its mid-day chime. I have to admit that things got pretty exciting around the hotel when that phone rang.

A specially trained and pre-screened staff was designated to service the needs and requests of the foreign Heads of State and other dignitaries. During my four year stint as Resident Manager of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors hotel, we hosted Presidents, Governors, Senators, Congressmen, Kings, Queens, Princes, Foreign Ambassadors, Movie Stars, Rock Stars, Sports Stars, famous singers, entertainers, bands, the Secret Service, the FBI, military officials and other dignitaries from all around the world. It was an “all hands on deck” occurrence whenever “the phone” rang. I’ll never forget those words, “Mr. Cerrone, it’s the White House calling”.

For those of you who are reading this and are in the hotel business, think about this. What other business could you be in that would offer a similar mix of famous and interesting people that we get to host on a daily basis. Wow, just answer the phone!

[The Miami Chapter….to be continued]

Friday, February 18, 2011


Have you heard the one about the guy who went into a hotel in New York City knowing that it was completely sold-out due to a major city-wide convention? He walked up to the desk clerk and asked if there were any rooms available, to which the clerk said, “Sorry sir, but we are completely sold-out”. The man asked the clerk, “Do you by chance have a Presidential Suite”? The clerk responded by saying, “Why of course sir, every fine hotel in this city has a Presidential Suite”. To which the man responded, “Well young man, I just spoke to the President and he told me he wouldn’t be using his suite tonight and so I’ll take his room’’.

My career in the hotel business has now spanned 40 plus years, seven moves and five states [Boston, Miami, Orlando, New York, Orlando, Shreveport, Atlanta]. It seems like just yesterday that I was driving my 1962 red Volkswagen “beetle” through the snow covered streets of Boston on my way to my first job in the hotel business at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. I started as a mail and information clerk of this 1012 room hotel, about as low as you can get on the totem pole. In hindsight I’m glad I had an opportunity to start at the bottom and “learn my way up the ladder” so to speak.

After completing the Sheraton Management Training Program which was a two year, three property tour of duty, I was promoted to the position of Resident Manager of the Sheraton Four Ambassadors Hotel in Miami, FL. The Four Ambassadors was the flagship Sheraton property at the time. A 744 all-suite hotel with 2 ballrooms, 5 restaurants, 3 bars, two swimming pools, a spa, health club, men’s and woman’s salons, shops, 4 towers of 22 stories each and the longest lobby [522 feet] of any hotel in the world. As Resident Manager, my wife Christine, our two daughters and I lived at the hotel in a suite on the 21st floor overlooking Biscayne Bay. As an aside, there is good and bad about living in a hotel. The good is the commute. The bad is your 24 hour availability to your workplace.

My family and I lived in Miami from 1970 to 1974. Two historic events happened in Miami in 1972. The first was the Miami Dolphins became the first ever [and still only] NFL Football team to go undefeated and then go on to win the Super Bowl. Also in 1972, Miami was the host city for both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Because of the size and stature of our hotel, we were the host property for all of the leading Republican and Democratic candidates for President.

Of course, each candidate wanted to stay in the one and only Presidential Suite. Atop each of the four towers were the Presidential, Governor’s, Senatorial and Congressional Suites, in towers one through four respectively. They were each well appointed and of similar size [2 bedrooms]but each had a separate and distinct outstanding view of either the Biscayne Bay or the city skyline of Miami.

I have a public confession to make.

Knowing each of the major candidates’ desire to stay in the Presidential Suite and not wanting to play favorites, I asked my Chief Engineer to have 3 additional Presidential Suite signs made up. For a “hold my breath and cross my fingers” 4 week period of time, we became the only hotel in the world with four Presidential Suites. It certainly was a gamble that could have turned out to be a public relations disaster, but fortunately it paid off and all the candidates left satisfied with their special accommodations, the “best room in the house”.

{The Miami Chapter….to be continued]

Monday, January 31, 2011


What weighs about the same as a fully loaded Boeing 747, requires 2 acres to park it, costs $10M, takes 10 months to construct and requires roughly 27,000 different things to be placed inside of it before it can take off?

You guessed it, a 100 room new construction Hotel Equities select service hotel.

When we built our first hotel, I was amazed to learn about all of the FF&E [furniture, fixtures and equipment] as well as other operating supplies and material that needed to be purchased and then placed into a new hotel before opening [I admit that I guessed at the number 27,000 but I bet I’m close]. I had managed numerous hotels, but my mind had been on operations of the existing asset and not on the attention to detail that is necessary to develop, construct and then open one.

Our first hotel was the Alpharetta, GA Fairfield Inn and Suites which opened on May 17, 1995. I remember that date well because May 17th is my oldest daughter Rachael’s birthday.

I recall my conversation with the General Contractor about how long it was going to take to build and how many rain days he had built into his assumptions. He said that it would take approximately 10 months to construct and that he had allowed for 29 “rain days” in his projections. We broke ground on July 1, 1994 and it proceeded to rain in Alpharetta for the next 29 days straight.

I thought at first that we had been jinxed, but have since come to learn that we had indeed been blessed. The FFI&S-Alpharetta has been one of Hotel Equities’ most successful hotels in corporate history. In fact, a number of our current Coaches and General Managers received their start with our company or have spent some time working at this great property. With an approximate employee to room count of I to 4 and a far lower than industry standard of management and associate turnover, this property has seen its share of talented hotel people.

Dolly Parton once said, “If you want to see a rainbow, you have to put up with some rain”.

I’m thankful for the rain.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Well it happened again. As hard as I tried to not get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas, I have to admit that I once again did. I don’t have a real good excuse especially since my wife Christine does most of the Christmas shopping. I did do a little better, but it was my goal this past year to be more intentional about enjoying each day leading up to the holiday while focusing on the true meaning of the season. It doesn’t help that the department stores begin advertising Christmas shortly after Halloween.

In 2011 I plan to do better. I’m going to try to focus more on our family traditions. One of which is the placement of the 29 cent star that has sat atop each Christmas tree since Christine and I were first married. Like most young couples we didn’t have a lot of money. I earned 77 cents an hour at my first job as a mail and information clerk at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. If you have been to our home during the holidays, perhaps you have seen the green and silver tin-foil star on top of the tree. Having survived six moves and untold packing and repacking abuses, the star has taken its share of dings. In fact it is now hard to get it to sit straight and so this year in particular it leaned hard right, similar to most of my drives in golf. In spite of its lackluster appearance, the star will be out this year as well, just like it has the past 43.

Another tradition we started a few years ago is the “ tree envelope gift drawing”. Here’s how it goes. Christine and I have six grandchildren, so we take six envelopes and fill them each with a different dollar denomination from one to one hundred. So, one lucky grandchild wins $100 while the others win 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 respectively. The kids choose numbers from 1 thru 6 out of a hat which determines the order in which they retrieve an envelope. This year our youngest grandson Jake won. You may have heard his shouts of joy. He did a good job of withstanding the harassing chants and offers to trade envelopes from his sister and cousins.

My grandfather used to say, “the older you get , the faster time goes by”. That never used to make sense as a kid, but it sure makes sense now. So, with that thought in mind, why don’t you join me this year in committing to be more intentional about Christmas. I know it seems a long way off but it will be here before you know it. And even faster for some of us, depending on our age.

Welcome to Fred Cerrone's Blog

Welcome to “Stuff Worth Sharing”! It is our hope that this blog will help you to know more about our Founder & Chairman, Fred Cerrone, as well as gain some insight into his vision and dreams for Hotel Equities. We welcome your feedback as well as any topics that you would like Fred to cover. Thanks for all you do to help make Hotel Equities a success!

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