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Milwaukee Business Journal: Marcus Hotels and Resorts eyes portfolio growth in 2023, completes Skirvin Hilton sale



Michael Evans, president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, said the hospitality company is considering portfolio growth as one goal in 2023, which comes quickly on the heels of the company’s sale of a historic hotel in Oklahoma City.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corp. (NYSE: MCS), currently has 15 properties in the U.S., including three in Milwaukee in the Saint Kate – the Arts Hotel, The Pfister Hotel and the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

Portfolio growth could occur a few different ways, Evans said, including “acquisition, joint ventures or assuming new management contracts of distinctive lifestyle and upper-upscale hotels and resorts located in the U.S.”

In 2022, Marcus Hotels & Resorts reduced its portfolio through the sale of The Skirvin Hilton, a historic, 225-room hotel in Oklahoma City. The company announced the sale of The Skirvin on Dec. 16 for $36.75 million.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts also managed the hotel, which is considered the oldest hotel in Oklahoma and on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007.

“We were very proud owners of the Skirvin Hilton for almost 16 years. The decision to sell the Skirvin was consistent with our overall corporate strategy of constantly evaluating each of our owned hotels to determine when a hotel should be sold to recycle our capital and use those proceeds to purchase new assets or reinvest in our existing portfolio,” Evans said.

Evans said 2022 was a “great year” with Marcus Hotels & Resorts outperforming the industry and its competition.

“Throughout the pandemic and particularly last year, we really focused on quality of the guest experience, and we made sure that we were making appropriate investments in our sales and marketing efforts, making sure that we had the right teams in place at the right time,” he said.

Though Evans said all of Marcus Hotels & Resorts properties outperformed the industry, two in southeastern Wisconsin stood out in 2022. One was the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, which saw the consistent demand for leisure travel with many year-round amenities from a spa to two golf courses and a ski hill. Evans said that hotel had a record performance in 2022.

Saint Kate – the Arts Hotel saw strong business with Evans noting the success of local tourism. The hotel opened in downtown Milwaukee right before the Covid-19 pandemic. Since reopening, Evans said it succeeded in not only attracting out-of-town visitors as what he called “the best experiential lifestyle hotel in Milwaukee,” but also becoming an entertainment destination for locals with its bars, dining options and live music.

Evans said there were two apparent challenges in 2022 that Marcus Hotels & Resorts had to navigate. One was the staffing challenges faced in every industry. Evans said those challenges had lessened compared with early 2022. With the need for new talent, Marcus Hotels also faced the secondary challenge of necessary training. The company hired a new director of training to address the challenge.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts also found new ways of recruitment. The division started a new concept called Brews and Interviews that took the recruitment process into a happy hour setting. The division also expanded its technology for more mobile-friendly, one-click job applications.

Another challenge was the change in business travel. Evans said the return of the business customer has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s adapting to the mix of business and the way that we interact with our customers,” Evans said. “It’s now turned into where people are extending their trips and combining both the business and leisure. We’ve seen we can pick up on days like Thursdays and Sundays which historically, pre-pandemic, were slower days for the hotel business and for us.”


Milwaukee Business Journal: Andrew Flack, Marcus Hotels & Resorts – CMO of the Year



Andrew Flack possesses all the qualities of a good hotelier. Personable and genuine, he has the natural ability to make people feel at ease.

Although his family owned and operated two hotels north of England, Flack initially pursued a career in financial services. But when his father fell ill, Flack returned home, entering the hotel sector full time. Following his father’s death, the family sold the business, but by then Flack was smitten.

From there, he held various management roles with hotels in the United Kingdom before joining Hilton Hotels & Resorts. He moved to Australia with Hilton in 2001, eventually finding his calling in sales and marketing. Subsequent promotions landed Flack in southeast Asia, before relocating to the U.S. to oversee all Hilton brand marketing strategies and functions worldwide.

“I have a restless curiosity,” said Flack of his globe-trotting lifestyle.

Preceding a corporate merger that combined Hilton’s international and U.S. operations, Flack served as vice president of marketing and e-commerce, supporting more than 5,000 managed and franchised properties.

In September 2020, Flack parlayed 30 years of hospitality experience into the role of chief commercial officer with Marcus Hotels & Resorts after being introduced to the national hotel group’s leadership by a mutual acquaintance.

To learn more about Andrew and his positive impact on Marcus Hotels & Resorts, click here.


Five Marcus Hotels & Resorts Properties Honored with 2022 MUSE Hotel Awards

Marcus Hotels & Resorts’ took home top honors from the 2022 MUSE Hotels Awards. This awards program recognizes hotels and restaurants which offer world-class service and facilities, and that make everything from dinner to a night’s stay memorable for every guest. Winners are awarded platinum and gold honors for their commitment to hospitality.

The hotels and restaurants awarded MUSE Hotel Awards in their respective categories are:

The properties were amongst hundreds of submissions from across the globe. To see a full list of 2022 MUSE Hotel Award Winners, click here.


The Pfister Hotel included in 2022 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Art Collections list

Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels, recently named The Pfister Hotel to its 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Art Collections list.

As noted in the article, “The Pfister Hotel’s art collection is reportedly the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world. Collected by Guido and Charles Pfister, the historic Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hotel keeps at least 80 pieces of 19th and early 20th-century Salon and Genre works on permanent display. Drawn from a variety of styles and subject matters, and gracing the setting for which they were selected, the collection offers guests a rare glimpse into the tastes and sensibilities that enlivened the Belle Epoque. Visitors can explore and learn about this art collection with a self-guided tour or a scheduled tour with the hotel’s current Artist-in-Residence. As guests enter, they are greeted by the two bronze statues called the Pikemen dating back to the opening of the hotel, standing on each side of the entrance. In the lobby are the well-known Pfister Lions, today called “Dick” and “Harry.” Charles Pfister used to introduce them as “Mason” and “Jefferson” to his guests. Moving through the hotel, nearly all the art embraces a style that was very much in vogue in the early 1900s, and is a complement to the hotel’s history. The landscapes, portraits, and sculptures are distributed throughout the hotel and serve as a welcome invitation at the top of each stairway or down a long corridor. Currently, the hotel offers self-guided tours of the art collection.”

To read more, click here.


Washington Post: LPs, Vitamix blenders and potted plants: How hotel libraries are getting creative

Although the words “lending library” may initially bring to mind books, more hotels are getting creative with loaner programs, offering musical instruments, movies, houseplants, outdoor gear and more. It’s a move they hope will create buzz about their property, provide novel ways to explore the local community and appeal to guests who aren’t as keen on hanging out at the hotel bar.

Read more about the special libraries hotels like Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel provide their guests here.


Hotel Scoop: Milwaukee’s Saint Kate — The Arts Hotel

Every detail is curated at Saint Kate — The Arts Hotel, 139 East Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, right down to the soap at the sink in the guests’ bathroom. According to its designer, the artist Niki Johnson, the soap won a national design award (not sure which one, though). Then again, Saint Kate isn’t a usual hotel.

For starters, it’s owned and operated by locals. The Marcus Corporation of Milwaukee took the former InterContinental Hotel in downtown Milwaukee into its Marcus Hotels & Resorts division and, using the design skills of New York City interior designer Stonehill Taylor, transformed it into a hotel focused on the arts — but kicks the concept up a notch or two.

Click here to continuing reading this review of Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel.



USA Today: You can walk from these 3 unique Milwaukee hotels to awesome attractions

Three distinctly different hotels and cool sights present visitors with win-win choices

Saint Kate is nothing if not cool. On the west side of East Town and near the river, it draws a sophisticated crowd, especially to the trendy lobby bar where cocktails are sipped to the sounds of live jazz. Art is everywhere, including in a well-curated lobby-level gallery. It informs the hotel’s aesthetic but isn’t highbrow, with pieces ranging from serious to humorously quirky. You don’t need an art degree to enjoy it, but do take the Champagne Art tour for interesting insights.

The 219 guest rooms are art-centric, too. Bathrooms are elevated by elegant Kohler design elements and playful room amenities add pizazz, like the turntable, old-school vinyl records and a bright red ukulele that I didn’t play but loved looking at.

Some art is functional. A lamp in my room was visually intriguing but how to turn it on remained a puzzlement (perhaps the guest was the dim one). Saint Kate is a dazzling collision of immersive art experience and upscale hotel – a treat for art lovers, sure, but for everyone else, too.

Nearby sights that you can walk to:

  • Pabst Theater – Opened in 1895, it’s still the place to catch a performance. Walk time: 2 minutes.
  • SafeHouse – This spy-themed cocktail joint requires a password. Don’t ask locals to tell you; they won’t. Walk time: 3 minutes.
  • Milwaukee RiverWalk – Stroll along the river; find the Bronze Fonz statue. Walk time: 4 minutes.
  • Old World Third Street – Hip hub of Milwaukee nightlife with concert venues, sports arenas and trending bars. Walk time: 5 minutes.
  • Deer District – A happening sports and entertainment area that includes Fiserv Forum, home to the Milwaukee Bucks. Walk time: 10 minutes.
  • “Heart & Sol” mural – Another Mauricio Ramirez work making Milwaukee more colorful. Walk time: 14 minutes.



Milwaukee Magazine: Meet the Curator at Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel

Samantha Timm brings art to its full potential in the galleries she curates for.

Before curating Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel’s lavish, modern galleries, Samantha Timm had a different expertise – 19th-century British art. She spent nearly a decade working in museums and galleries around the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the York Art Gallery in England.

Working in a hotel has its differences from her past jobs. At Saint Kate, Timm considers the entire visitor experience, from the room – including stays in the artist-designed Canvas rooms – to dining and imbibing at the hotel’s restaurants and bars. She has five feature exhibitions under her purview and oversees the hotel’s permanent collection and coordination with the Museum of Wisconsin Art to bring its lobby-level gallery, MoWA | DTN, to life. While ensuring that all the artwork fits Saint Kate’s brand, she looks especially for work that plays with unusual mediums. “My art is facilitating what we do here,” Timm says. “I invite our artists to use our space as a platform.”

Sometimes that means getting collaborative with the artists. Right now, in the lobby, there’s a display showcasing “A Cabinet of Curiosities” by a pair of local artists called The Wondermakers (up through April 3). It features dozens of intricate textiles. Timm spent hours hanging pieces from the ceiling with fishing line to give it the look of a whimsical constellation.

“I have this constant sense of wonder about all the pieces that we have, and about all the shows that are on display,” Timm says. “I try to share that with my guests.”

You can join Timm on one of her Champagne Art Tours, usually offered on Fridays and Saturdays. With a glass of bubbly in hand, she whisks you around the hotel’s exhibits and helps you understand and engage with the art.

Read more about Saint Kate’s curator here.


Derek Morrison, Hilton Madison Monona Terrace – Professional of the Week

Derek Morrison, general manager of Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, was profiled in InBusiness Magazine and was named by the magazine as Professional of the Week. Read this profile of Derek to learn more about his passion for creating memorable experiences for guests, his secret talents and love for Dane County.


It’s no secret– Milwaukee’s SafeHouse is celebrating 55 years this weekend with spy fun, food & drinks

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)– Fifty five years of spy intrigue culminates with a big birthday bash this weekend at Milwaukee’s SafeHouse.

The celebration continues both Friday and Saturday with drink and food specials, spy merch, free giveaways, and a special mission for agents.

Of course the timing is perfect with the release of the new James Bond movie “No Time to Die.” And while this anniversary is a neat look back, it’s also a way to get future generations interested in the mysterious undercover world.

To watch video of CBS 58’s Michael Schlesinger’s visit to the SafeHouse, click here.