In the Hot Seat

News editor Johanna Jainchill sat down with Jay Stein, Dream Hotel Group CEO, to discuss new locations and why the company doesn't want to build its own hotels going forward. Read More

NEW YORK — In line with a refocused and streamlined growth plan, the Dream Hotel Group plans to open six hotels by 2019, five in the U.S. and one in Qatar.

Speaking at its Dream Downtown location here, CEO Jay Stein said that the Dream properties would open in Nashville; Dallas; Palm Springs, Calif.; two in New York (Times Square and Queens); and Doha, Qatar.

The $1.5 billion invested in hotel development will double the Dream footprint, Stein said, but he said it was only the beginning of what would be an accelerated expansion of Dream’s four lifestyle brands: Dream, which currently has five locations with another opening in September; Time, with properties in Manhattan and Nyack, N.Y.; Chatwal, its luxury brand, with a Times Square location; and Unscripted, which is slated to open its first hotel in Durham, N.C., in April.

Stein said he expects to open about six Dream properties a year over the next few years but that the real growth would happen with Unscripted, an upper-midscale brand, and Time, a more streamlined upper-upscale brand than Dream that requires fewer food and beverage outlets. Stein said there are already a “bunch” of additional Time and Unscripted hotels in the pipeline.

When he became Dream’s CEO in December, after serving 16 years as COO, Stein said the company was undergoing some major changes, including its name, which became the Dream Hotel Group, replacing Debut Hotels. He and chairman Sant Singh Chatwal decided to move forward with four of its brands and not grow its original midscale badge, Night, which has two properties in midtown Manhattan, both of which will remain Nights.

“We needed to streamline the company a bit and focus on what we do well and let go of some of the other things we were trying to grow,” Stein said. “I felt we needed only one of the midscale brands.”

Stein said that in about two years, overall company growth would accelerate, particularly in the Unscripted and Time brands, “which have many more opportunities than Dream and Chatwal.”

“Dream has the big head start, but there are not that many cities that can have a Dream,” he said. “Whereas there are probably 400 locations for Unscripted and probably 75 for Time. And probably only 20 that would make sense for Dream.”

Helping the company to push the expansion is a change in mindset when it comes to hotel development.

“In the old days, everything we owned we managed, and everything we managed we owned,” Stein said.

About 10 years ago that philosophy started to evolve into a mixture of owning and managing. But going forward, Stein said, the company is not looking to build any of its own hotels; it will instead just brand and manage them. Building them will be left to third-party developers, he said, citing the high cost and long lead time involved in developing properties and the value of the Dream name.

“At this point, we spent a lot of years building our brands,” he said. “We think a better economic use of our money is to grow by working with other partners and grow more quickly.”


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