Articles Posted in Hotel Management Agreements

Published on:

18 July 2012

There is nothing more important to the value and financial success of your hotel than selecting the right operator, and getting a management agreement with reasonable terms.

At a recent meeting in Los Angeles, my partner and Hotel Lawyer Robert E. Braun of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® moderated a panel of hotel industry leaders on some of the key issues owners should consider in selecting a new hotel operator.

The panelists included Patrick Bajdek of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Craig Mance, from Hilton Hotels, Rich Musgrove from HotelAVE, Larry Somma of Hyatt Hotels, and Sam Winterbottom from Grubb & Ellis.

Below, Bob gives his top 5 takeaways from the panel. . .


Published on:

Two owners terminate long-term hotel management agreements, seize control of their hotels from branded operators, and then settle their litigation

8 July 2012

Hotel Lawyer with an interesting comparison of two significant hotel takeovers — Marriott Edition Waikiki becomes The Modern Honolulu and Fairmont Turnberry Isle & Resort drops Fairmont

Two significant hotel takeovers that started at virtually the same moment last August both settled last week. One is the widely-publicized takeover of the Edition Waikiki in Honolulu and the other is a little-publicized takeover of the Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa in the Miami where the owner terminated a “no-cut” hotel management contract with more than 50 years left to run and expelled Fairmont from the property.
JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, together with local counsel Dennis Richard of Richard and Richard, P.A., represented the owner of the Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa in a major victory over Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, in Miami, Florida, by preventing Fairmont from re-taking the hotel. For reasons discussed below, that result is noteworthy when compared to the result in the case between Marriott and the owners of the Edition Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Published on:

20 March 2012

Hotel Lawyer: Are you thinking about negotiating a new hotel management agreement? Here are 10 things to consider about making your process smoother and more successful.

It seems like hotel management agreements are on everyone’s mind these days. Development is coming back. Many owners of existing property are repositioning their hotel properties. And old management agreements continue to expire or occasionally are terminated.

In any event, we have been getting a lot of calls lately to help owners, developers, investors (and some lenders who have become owners) negotiate new hotel management agreements. One of the first questions usually raised is how the process of negotiating a management agreement works, with all the different parties involved, usually in different parts of the country (or the world).

So my partner Bob Braun and I decided to share the process we usually use with clients to streamline the process. Let us know if you have any thoughts or insights on this.


Published on:

17 January 2012

Hotel Lawyer on Hotel Management Agreement disputes between Owners and Hotel Operators.

While there are always disputes simmering between hotel owners and hotel operators, the past few years has witnessed a big increase in the number of disputes ripening to litigation and arbitration. In a recent article, we discussed some of the root causes of this trend and role of the economy. That article was entitled, “Litigation and disputes between hotel owners and operators are on the rise. Why?”

I believe that most owner-operator disputes stem from the owner’s belief that the operator is not operating the hotel in a satisfactory manner and is treating the owner unfairly. A bad economy drives the parties to take action. When discussions fail to resolve the issues, litigation or arbitration claims often result.

Operators as fiduciaries: Why is this important and what does it mean?

As I mentioned in the recent article, some of these disputes pivot on the fiduciary responsibility of the operator. This is an important legal concept for hotel owners to understand. Generally, a hotel operator is the “agent” of the owner. Every agent is a fiduciary. A fiduciary has many duties such as a duty of loyalty, full disclosure, and noncompetition. A fiduciary also has a duty to prefer his principal’s interest (the owner’s interests) over his own interests.

I discussed these important concepts in a sidebar recently published in an article by Jason Freed of HotelNewsNow (a division of Smith Travel Research) in his article, Economic woes drive owner-operator disputes. I have reprinted that sidebar below with a few formatting edits to make the reading a bit easier.


Published on:

12 September 2011

Hotel Lawyer with some tips on Hotel Franchise Agreements and the 5 biggest mistakes a hotel owner can make

Hotels need brands, and brands need hotels. For many years, hotel brands have been growing in importance for the success of hotels in the United States and abroad. The trend toward branding is quite a phenomenon. According to numbers we have seen, In the early 1990s, approximately 40% of the hotels in the U.S. were branded and the balance were independent. Now the number is probably closer to 80% or more of the hotels are branded or brand-affiliated.

The branding is often accomplished by a franchise or license agreement from a company owning the brand. Other times it is accomplished by a branded hotel management company entering into a management agreement with the owner of the hotel, providing both the brand and management for the property.

Although we have spent a lot of time on Hotel Law Blog discussing hotel management agreements, today we are going to focus on the franchise or license agreement arrangements. With more than 20 years’ experience working with more than 1,000 hotel management and franchise agreements, we have some perspectives that may be worth considering.

Hotel owners keep falling into the same traps
One of these perspectives of our hotel lawyers is that many sophisticated hotel investors and owners seem to fall into a handful of traps that would be easy to avoid. And this same handful of traps catches the unwary time and again.

So this article focuses on hotel franchise agreements and outlines the 5 biggest mistakes an owner can make when seeking a hotel franchise arrangement. If this sounds all too familiar, you have probably learned these lessons the hard (and expensive) way. If you haven’t stumbled on these yet, you won’t want to miss the warning flags and the traps they portend.


Published on:

8 September 2011

Hotel Lawyer on changing brand standards.

Hotels need brands, and brands need hotels.

Like all relationships, the relationship between branded hotel operators or franchise companies (the brand) and hotel owners needs ground rules. As long as both parties agree to the rules and follow them, who can complain?

Now, what happens if the ground rules change? In most relationships, both parties would agree to change the rules — or they would separate and go their own ways.

And what if one of the ground rules is that only one party can change the rules at any time? And the other party would have to follow them, no matter what? This is what can happen to hotel owners that agree, often for very good reasons, that a brand can change its standards for the hotel.

Sometimes the change in brand standards is not so good for the owner… one day you’re turning a profit and the next day you’re in the hole, paying for expensive changes required by the “new brand standards,” with no return on investment in sight.

The management or franchise agreement sets the ground rules and allocates risk between the hotel operator and the hotel owner. Negotiating the agreement, which will include “brand standards”, is one of the most important things hotel owners will ever do for their hotel investment.

Here is some advice from my partner, Robert Braun, co-author with me of the HMA Handbook.


Published on:

21 August 2011

One of the most read articles in the history of Hotel Law Blog is entitled: “
M Waikiki’s Edition lawsuit against Marriott and Ian Schrager – an owner’s HMA dispute with Marriott.

I have gotten a lot of compliments on the article from people saying that it helped them understand what was going on there. But a recent letter from Ed Ryan, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Marriott International took quite a different tone.

Although I disagree with many of Ed’s points, the letter is thoughtful and well written. Ed encouraged me to publish it so people could see the “other side” of this issue. And in the interest of airing another view, I have done just that.

Read Ed’s letter below. Then read the blog again, and take a look at the complaint. Then you be the judge.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Published on:

16 August 2011

Hotel Lawyer with what it all means: Family Suites Resorts v. Viacom International d/b/a MTV Networks — a suit over branding

I was recently interviewed by Jason Freed of HotelNewsNow (a division of Smith Travel Research) about three high profile lawsuits in the hospitality industry.

In the third and final lawsuit we discussed, Family Suites Resorts v. Viacom International d/b/a MTV Networks, we discussed the Family Suites lawsuit. Family suites operates a Nickelodeon-themed hotel, and claims its licensing rights were breached when Viacom entered into an agreement with Marriott to franchise the Nickelodeon brand.

According to the complaint, Family Suites Resorts spent $168 million on its Nickelodeon-themed property — money it would not have spent if guests could get the Nickelodeon hotel experience elsewhere. So what happened?

An industry built on intellectual property.

As Jason quotes me as saying in the article: “This is an industry that relies on intellectual property–that’s what brands are.” See, The 5 questions every owner should ask before selecting a hotel brand.


Published on:

07 August 2011

Hotel Lawyer with what it all means: The M Waikiki’s lawsuit seeking to terminate Marriott as its hotel operator for the Edition Waikiki, in Honolulu.

I was recently interviewed by Jason Freed of HotelNewsNow (a division of Smith Travel Research) about three high profile lawsuits in the hospitality industry.

The first case we discussed was the recent lawsuit filed by the owner of the 353-room Edition Waikiki against Marriott and Ian Schrager. As the hotel’s owner, M Waikiki LLC asked the New York Supreme Court to terminate its 50-year, no-cut hotel management agreement (HMA) with Marriott on its $250 million Honolulu hotel and to award damages for misrepresentation and breach of contract.

This lawsuit raises issues we have covered extensively in the HMA Handbook and in many articles under the Topic of Hotel Management Agreements on, See, for example, “Hotel management agreement terminations — Is there a better way?.”

This is an interesting lawsuit, so first let’s look at the background facts and then let’s see what the claims and the implications are.

For a response from Marriott, please see “Hotel Lawyer with more on M Waikiki Edition lawsuit against Marriott – What Marriott’s General Counsel says.”

Click here to download a copy of the complaint.


Published on:

10 March 2011

Hotel Lawyer: JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® announces publication of The HMA Handbook, a practical guide for negotiating Hotel Management Agreements for Hotel Owners, Developers, Investors and Lenders

LOS ANGELES–The Global Hospitality Group® of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) today announced the release of The HMA Handbook, Hotel Management Agreements for Owners, Developers, Investors & Lenders. This e-book is a practical guide for decision makers who want pragmatic advice from veterans with business and legal perspectives on getting great hotel operators, negotiating a fair hotel management agreement (HMA), and terminating a bad one when the operator deserves it..

Co-authored by JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® Chairman, Jim Butler, and Partner and Senior Member of the Group, Robert E. Braun, The HMA Handbook draws on articles from JMBM’s Hotel Law Blog and is the second book in JMBM’s “We Wrote the Book” series. In the book’s Foreword, James J. Eyster, professor emeritus of hotel finance and real estate at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration refers to the authors as lawyers who “work at the highest levels and cutting edge of the industry”.