TORONTO — Bill Marriott, executive chairman and chairman of the board for Marriott Hotels International, had talked Michael Beckley, former Marriott SVP of Development, out of retiring a couple of times before. This time, it was Bill Stone, executive vice-president of CBRE Hotels. Beckley joins CBRE as director, CBRE Hotels, the company announced earlier this week.
Marriott, who is 84, provides a great role model for Beckley, who is a decade younger.
“It took me nine months to realize that retirement was a state of mind and not the penultimate goal for everybody,” said Beckley, who retired from Marriott in the middle of last year. “After 50-plus-years in the industry, I missed the people and the action, and you can't play golf in Canada in the winter.”
He added that he needed work that he would enjoy doing and where he could add value. “Bill and I go back 34 or 35 years. I was motivated because all the people who work around Bill are friends, and I will also be adding value. I can add a strategic approach to hotel real estate, a view from the other side of the fence, having done 150 hotel deals in 14 and a half years with Marriott.
“This is a good fit — there were other opportunities, but CBRE is so connected to the industry. The CBRE business card will certainly open doors for me.”
“We're delighted to have Michael with us. He will help us round out certain relationships and open up new doors,” said Stone. “He's also a great sounding board, our own small board of directors, looking at opportunities and approaches to new business.”
Beckley will have an office at CBRE in downtown Toronto, but will also have the flexibility to work from his home office. One of the first places he will be handing out his new business cards will be the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference, to be held May 16-17 at the Royal York Hotel and Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
More transactions anticipated in Q3 and Q4 2016
On the business side, Stone said that transaction volumes are down two-thirds from where they were last year. “I do see volumes growing quickly as we go through the year, and with growth in Q3 and Q4, we may equal the record volumes we reached last year.” Last year transaction volume was $2.3 billion.
Beckley echoed the idea that the end of the year is often busier. “At Marriott, we often had slow starts to the year and crazy finishes when all hell broke loose in the latter part of the year.”
While 80 per cent of the transaction activity is North American, Stone sees a growing amount of offshore interest, particularly from Hong Kong and Mainland China. “I just returned from a trip to Hong Kong, where numerous buyers were interested in Canada,” he said.
Stone added that the buyers were pre-qualified and attracted by the growing leisure travel into the Canadian market. Vancouver and Toronto are cities that piqued their interest.