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.”