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Hotel lawyers on terminating hotel operators: M Edition lawsuit against Marriott has a new twist — Marriott is replaced overnight

28 August 2011


Hotel Lawyer update on Hotel owners terminating hotel operators. This weekend has been a busy one for owners tired of dealing with their branded managers. The Turnberry Group dropped Fairmont on Sunday. See Hotel lawyers on terminating hotel operators: Turnberry Resort drops Fairmont flag.

And on the same day, the owners of the M Edition Waikiki seized control of their hotel from Marriott and installed Aqua Hotels as the new operator. See Marriott Loses Trendy Waikiki Hotel as Owner Changes Locks Overnight as reported by Alexandra Berzon and Kris Hudson of the Wall Street Journal.

Over the years we have spent a lot of time on the subject of getting a great hotel operator and terminating bad ones. Owner discontent seems to erupt when operators continue to deliver disappointing results and ignore owner’s requests to drive the top line and manage costs. Then the operators wonder why owners are upset. See for example “Terminating hotel management agreements when things don’t work” and “How to terminate a hotel management agreement when an operator really deserves it!
Marriott loses control over half of its trendy Edition Chain in the pre dawn hours of Sunday morning.

The dispute between the owners of the M Edition Waikiki and Marriott has been a contentious and high profile piece of litigation. For the background of this dispute, an outline of what went wrong, and the contentions of the parties, see “M Waikiki’s Edition lawsuit against Marriott and Ian Schrager – an owner’s HMA dispute with Marriott and M Waikiki Edition lawsuit against Marriott – What Marriott’s General Counsel says“.


Self help to seize control of the hotel

Over the weekend, in the early hours of Sunday morning, the owners seized their hotel by installing new management and changing the signs and locks on the hotel to reflect the new name, the Modern Honolulu. As Marriott’s Edition chain only had two hotels — the one in Waikiki and one in Istanbul, Turkey — Marriott lost half of its Edition hotels with this takeover. This has to be a big blow to the struggling new brand.

What does this mean for the Edition brand?

In our opinion, the public litigation against Marriott and Schrager for breach of contract, fraud and mismanagement has to be a big black eye. Whatever the legal outcome, operating a functionally new and redesigned hotel at 31% of the competitive set is a dismal record for anyone, much less Marriott.

A lot of people have been wondering who would want to invest in an Edition hotel with all this terrible publicity. Apparently, Marriott is worried about that too, and the Wall Street Journal reports that Marriott is investing $400 million of its own money in Edition locations in London and Miami Beach, which will open over the next two years or so.

It will be very interesting to watch the progress on the litigation filed in New York and what else develops on this situation.

In an unrelated proceeding involving another owner termination of a branded operator, Turnberry Isle Resort’s reflagging was carried as breaking news by the Miami Herald on August 28, 2011.

Other articles on Hotel Law Blog about terminating hotel management agreements

Marriott Loses Appeal in Eden Roc Case: Why all long-term hotel management agreements are now terminable.

How to terminate a hotel management agreement: A Tale of Two Hotels — Marriott’s Edition Waikiki and Fairmont’s Turnberry Isle Resort

Terminating hotel operators: M Edition lawsuit against Marriott has a new twist — Marriott is replaced overnight

More on M Waikiki Edition lawsuit against Marriott – What Marriott’s General Counsel says

M Waikiki’s Edition lawsuit against Marriott and Ian Schrager – an owner’s HMA dispute with Marriott

Terminating hotel operators: Turnberry Resort drops Fairmont flag

Hotel management agreement terminations — Is there a better way?

Terminating hotel management agreements when things don’t work? Not easy, but not impossible either.

Hotel bankruptcy trump card. Terminating hotel management agreements without liability — the alchemy of lead to gold for troubled hotels and hotel loans?

Ritz-Carlton Bali hotel management agreement termination further court order

Ritz-Carlton breached contractual and fiduciary duties under hotel management agreement giving rise to free termination, $10.3 million in damages plus attorneys fees. When will hotel operators “get it”?

How to terminate a hotel management agreement when an operator really deserves it!

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This is Jim Butler, author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $60 billion of hotel transactions and have developed innovative solutions to unlock value from hotels. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

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Our Perspective. We represent hotel lenders, owners and investors. We have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $60 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,300 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at jbutler@jmbm.com or +1 (310) 201-3526.

Jim Butler is a founding partner of JMBM, and Chairman of its Global Hospitality Group® and Chinese Investment Group™. Jim is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them.