SHELTON, Conn. — Gerry Chase, president and COO of New Castle Hotels and Resorts, will retire on June 30, paving the way for Julian and Jeremy Buffam, sons of founder David Buffam, to take the helm of its growing portfolio on both sides of the Canada/U.S border.
New Castle, a leading third-party hotel management company, owner and developer announced last week that Chase, who has been with the company for 30 years, will retire from NCHR.
Chase joined the company in 1988 and oversaw hotel operations and later development efforts of more than 80 hotels and resorts. He began his hospitality career as a bellman, rising through the ranks of Marriott International, and later holding executive positions with Interstate Hotels and Resorts before partnering with Buffam to build New Castle.
“David offered me the opportunity of a lifetime when he welcomed me into his family business, and after 30 years it’s time to turn over the keys to a new generation,” said Chase. “We have a strong executive team in place, a robust development pipeline and a very successful portfolio of owned and operated hotels that each are market leaders. I can move into this next phase confident that our associates, investors, partners and hotels are all well positioned for continued prosperity.”
Chase has been a dedicated industry collaborator serving on numerous brand advisory boards as well as the board of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the American Hotel and Register Company. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Arthur Landstreet Award, which is presented annually to an individual who has made a lasting impact on the quality of education and training in the hospitality industry.
New Castle Hotels & Resorts has one
foot planted firmly on each side of the Canada-U.S. border, with seven hotels
in Canada and 21 in the U.S. And the
Canadian tally doesn’t include the dual-branded Marriott Courtyard and
Residence Inn under construction in Dartmouth, N.S., set to open in early 2019.
Canadian Lodging News talked to Chase and Julian Buffam.
“Julian and [his brother] Jeremy are driving the development
process in the U.S. and Canada,” said Chase. “Julian grew up with the business
of being a developer.”
New Castle recently took over management of the Westin
Prince Hotel in Canada. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us to get into
Toronto,” said Buffam.
The company has Canadian hotels in three provinces:
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario.
“The Westin Nova Scotian is the cornerstone of our expansion
into Canada,” Buffam said. New Castle
has managed the property since 1996, when it became the first Westin franchise
in the world.
“When we took it over, it was an old, historic railway hotel
that was shuttered and completely derelict,” said Chase. “We wanted to explore a new market and get
into Canada — and the hotel had good bones.
We bought it for $4 million, and we’ve raised it up to the top hotel in
Halifax.” The hotel required extensive
renovations to bring it up to Westin brand standards. “We’ve signed a
management contract for a second 20 years,” Chase said.
When New Castle took over the Duke Park Hotel in Montreal,
it was the first Renaissance franchise in the world. The 459-room property has
now been converted into student housing for McGill University.
In 2002, New Castle successfully bid on management of the
government’s three signature resorts — the Digby Pines, Keltic Lodge and
Liscombe Lodge. While Digby Pines (now a Choice Ascend Collection property) and
Liscomb Lodge are still in the New Castle portfolio, Keltic Lodge was sold to
and is being managed by a private investor. “The properties had been
government-managed for decades,” said Chase. “In our first year of operation,
we turned around $2 million in additional profit.”
A few years later, they did a deal with Southwest Properties
in Halifax, to manage the Residence Inn in Moncton, another strong performer in
a market with a lot of new hotels, said Buffam. They followed up with the
Hampton Inn & Suites in Dartmouth, much larger than the typical Hampton
with 163 rooms.
“Overbuilding these select service properties and offering
amenities helped us become Developer of the Year for Hilton, which opened up a
lot of opportunities,” said Buffam. “We had a RevPAR index of 150 per cent.”
A few years later, they partnered with Southwest to acquire
the Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea, N.B. They decided to completely redo the property
to exceed the historic aspects. After an extensive $50 million renovation, the
property became the first Marriott Autograph Collection property in Canada,
with outstanding meeting rooms and golf course, and the features needed to
restore its role as a Canadian icon.
So how does New Castle differentiate itself from other
“We’re hands on and involved in the development, and we lend
our support pre-development,” said Chase. “We negotiate with franchisors,
reviewing the design and budget documents. That’s a unique differentiator.
“We identified an opportunity to get into Canada, and we
loved going there very much,” Chase added. “There are lots of opportunities,
including historic properties like the Nova Scotian. “It’s a great place to be
and a complement to our U.S. operations. It’s a smaller playing field — there
are a lot of management companies, but not as many as in the U.S. We are one of the top 10 go-to management
companies in Canada, always.”
New Castle has a Canadian office at the Westin Nova Scotian,
headed by Guido Kerpel.
“Nova Scotia has a special place in Dad’s heart, and that
played a part,” said Julian, referring to Newcastle founder and CEO, David Buffam. “Dad was very into golf, and started going to Nova Scotia. He loved
the Maritimes, the sailing, the geography, the beautiful landscape… and the
“The majority of our portfolio involved extensive
repositioning,” he added citing the Westin Nova Scotian and the Algonquin. “We
work well with regional developers, particularly those who don’t have a
background in hospitality.”