MasterBUILT's Watson joins Sonder's Rocket Ship

Eric Watson, who has been the face of MasterBUILT in Canada for the past five and a half years, has left the company to join Sonder as regional director (head of real estate) for Canada. Watson started in the hospitality business in 2002, as founder and CEO of Ultimate Properties, building it into one of the largest real estate development companies in Western Canada before merging with Bellstar. After a year as VP corporate development & real estate at Bellstar, he moved to Superior Lodging Corp. in the position of vice-president, development, until he transferred to MasterBUILT as COO and then president. Read his article explaining why he has mixed emotions about leaving MasterBUILT, but also excited about his new position.

“After eight memorable years and 24 hotels in the ground, it is with mixed emotions that I have decided to move on from MasterBUILT Hotels to pursue another exciting chapter in my career,” Watson wrote earlier this month. I am extremely proud of what WE (our team past and present) have accomplished at MasterBUILT. Our talented 500+ people are genuinely passionate about what they do and I will sincerely miss them as they continue to break new ground in Canada’s hotel industry in the years to come. 

“As a major underdog, MasterBUILT built Microtel by Wyndham into one of Canada's most successful new limited service brands and a consistent guest favourite on TripAvisor. I will not hesitate to recommend Microtel to other hotel owners and developers in the future. I also want to give a shout out to the team at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Under the exceptional leadership of Geoff Ballotti, Geoff and his team have given Wyndham the focus and direction needed to be industry leaders alongside the Marriotts, Hiltons and IHG. Wyndham has not just been business partners, they have been our sincere friends.” 

By Eric Watson

I am pleased to announce I have decided to join the exponentially growing and dynamic team at Sonder (www.sonder.com) in the role of regional director (head of real estate) for Canada. 

Over the past few years, I have witnessed a significant shift in customer preferences with the rise of the millennial; rapidly escalating construction costs throwing deal underwriting into the shredder; cap rate compression borne from historically low interest rates and an excess of non-invested capital; bureaucratic red tape frustrating the development process; and ultimately the convergence and disruption of real estate asset classes through new service delivery models (AirBnB, WeWork, etc). 

All of these factors mean that today real estate owners and developers require a higher level of ingenuity and discipline to deliver acceptable risk adjusted returns to investors. On the flip side, hotel guests benefit from a wider range of options with a superior value equation. 

Sonder is a company that is not just disrupting the traditional hotel model, it is truly evolving it to meet the next generation of travellers while offering a profound value proposition to owners/developers through fixed leases that de-risk their investment, improve financing terms and dramatically reduce administrative burden. 

Not to be confused with AirBnB business model as a booking platform, Sonder provides professionally designed and operated accommodation (apartment and hotel) spaces in great locations with the foundation of a leading hotel brand's consistency, the authenticity of a boutique hotel, and superior overall value of select service lodging enabled through cutting edge technology. 

In fact, if you are looking for your next accommodation on AirBnB or HomeAway you may come across a Sonder unit and get the additional benefit of peace of mind that your experience is being curated by hospitality professionals and not Mrs. Smith who will be at her other job when you call with an issue. 

Founded in Canada, Sonder is headquartered in San Francisco with Canadian operations currently in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver with aggressive expansion plans for other cities across the country (and the globe). One of the fastest growing hospitality companies in the world, Sonder recently raised $210mm from some of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capital companies bringing their total equity raise to $400MM since its inception 6 years ago. 

I look forward to working with friends new and old as I embark on this new adventure. 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Sonder, a hotel alternative that plays by the rules.

https://www.businessinsider.com/sonder-has-reached-unicorn-status-with-its-newest-fundraising-round-2019-7 

https://chicago.suntimes.com/business/2019/7/11/20689500/lodging-operator-sonder-expands-chicago-product-line

https://www.curbed.com/2019/10/16/20914272/dallas-real-estate-hotel-homesharing-sonder

https://finance-commerce.com/2019/09/sonder-takes-airbnb-aesthetic-to-hotels/

https://www.phocuswire.com/Sonder-unicorn-analysis