To open up management services to hotels that don’t fit under the Lark Hotels umbrella from a brand and design standpoint, the company has created a third-party management arm that’s generating growth in new markets.
AMESBURY, Massachusetts—Through the creation of its third-party management arm, Lark Hotels is providing independent owners with top-notch management services while keeping property individuality, CEO Peter Twachtman said.
The idea behind the third-party management branch came about in early 2020 when Twachtman and Lark founder Rob Blood were discussing how many properties the company turns away because they don’t fall under the Lark umbrella from a brand and design standpoint.
“As we thought about that from our collective business standpoint, our infrastructure, our ability to manage properties, we said this seems a little crazy that we’re potentially turning away wonderful properties to work with and really great (owners) because those properties don’t fit into a Lark mold from design,” Twachtman said.
Lark Hotels started building out the plans for the third-party management arm in February and March but had to put those plans on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he said.
In May, the company was able to resume plans and the third-party management platform was announced on 26 August, according to a news release.
Owners who use Lark’s management services will not have to renovate or reposition their properties, the news release states. The first two properties to sign on are the Carmel Lodge in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, and the Olde Marco Inn and Suites in Marco Island, Florida.
More hotels and locations
While two properties have signed into management contracts with Lark, Twachtman said there are eight or nine conversations going on with different owners throughout the U.S. to sign more properties.
Lark Hotels and its third-party management platform will work in tandem with the “ability to leverage growth through great properties throughout the U.S., looking at central hubs, and then building out from there. One can help drive growth from the other, which ultimately helps drive the collective growth of Lark,” he said.
Offering management services to independent owners has already led to more growth for Lark in California with the signing of the Carmel Lodge property, but Twachtman said this will open up other areas of opportunity for company growth.
“It will certainly open up markets for us,” he said. “The thing that we do really well is run small units. There’s not a lot of groups that want to take them on; there’s not a lot of groups that operate as tightly as we do. We believe it will certainly open up opportunities for us in markets we’re not in and allow us to expand our footprint.”
Overall performance during the pandemic
Lark has run into obstacles and new restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which Twachtman said is market-dependent for each property.
In Vermont, for instance, hotels are still at 50% occupancy.
“There’s enough demand in Vermont, just in this example, where we’re hitting that 50% (occupancy) threshold quite often,” he said. “(In Maine) the governor has been thoughtful but has been focused on keeping Maine safe … so the lockdown in Maine had diverted a lot of travelers this year to other markets.”
Lark has properties in smaller locations such as Salem, Massachusetts, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that are performing moderately well, he added.