By Jim Butler, Hotel Lawyer | Author of www.HotelLawBlog.com
1 February 2008
Hotel Operating Agreement, HOA, Hotel Management Agreement, HMA, Hotel Management Contract, Management Contract. Hotel Operator, Hotel Manager, Hotel Owner. RFP for Hotel Manager. RFP for Hotel Operator, How to get a great hotel operator.
Contracts between hotel owners and managers (or operators) controlling the management of a hotel go by various names. They are called hotel management agreements, HMAs, hotel management contracts or hotel operating agreements. For convenient reference, this article will generally use the term "Hotel Management Agreement" or "HMA." However all these terms can be used interchangeably and mean the same thing, just as with hotel operator or hotel manager.
Whatever they are called, Hotel Management Agreements allocate risk between the hotel manager and the hotel owner. They are critical in determining the profitability and value of a hotel.
Hotel Lawyer on hotel management agreements and operator breach of duty. It may be an exaggeration to say that "JMBM wrote the book on hotel management agreements," but we certainly know the area and have at least written a few chapters in that book. We have been helping owners, developers and lenders with many hundreds of hotel management agreements over the past 20 years. We have negotiated, re-negotiated, terminated and litigated almost every aspect of them, so the only thing surprising about the latest jury verdict handed down on January 25, 2008 against Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton is that it shows a continuing disconnect of operators who choose to ignore their contractual and fiduciary duties. (Search "Management Agreements" at www.HotelLawBlog.com)
In this case, one of our clients owned the Ritz-Carlton Bali which was managed under a typical long-term, no-cut management contract. A few days ago, after a 3 week trial, a jury sitting less than 10 miles from Ritz-Carlton's home office ruled that the management contract was breached by Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton, giving the owner the right to terminate the contract, awarding $382,304 in compensatory damages, $10 million in punitive damages, plus attorneys fees and costs to the owner. The Wall Street Journal published an article today by Tamara Audi on the case. How does this happen?