Skift Take

SH Hotels & Resorts has a new CEO after his successor lasted only a few months. Beefing up the company's brand presence in the highly competitive lifestyle hotel sector is crucial to success.

Series: Early Check-In

Early Check-In

Editor’s Note: Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill brings readers exclusive reporting and insights into hotel deals and development, and how those trends are making an impact across the travel industry.

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Leaders at SH Hotels & Resorts — the Barry Sternlicht-founded company behind the 1 Hotels, Baccarat, and Treehouse hotel brands — are charting a post-pandemic growth trajectory at a time when bigger competitors want exactly the kind of brands it offers. 

The company’s new CEO, former Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal, believes that kind of independent growth is still possible, no matter what kind of bigger-is-better sales tactics the likes of Marriott and Hilton toss around.

“It's really a dream portfolio because if you take a look at the three different brands, they all have distinctly different demographics and appeal to a different customer base,” Leal, who took over from Arash Azarbarzin in late August, said in an interview with Skift. “They're all poised for pretty significant growth.”

Leal noted Treehouse, SH’s more environmentally minded brand, as one that has a particularly strong growth opportunity due to its greater appeal to younger travelers. But this growth, whether at Treehouse or the company’s other two brands, is unlikely to scale up in the same vein as some of the major, global hotel conglomerates. In other words: quality over quantity. 

“We're not going to be a 500-hotel brand company,” Leal said. “It's a very specialized, very unique segment of the market.”

Leal’s appointment as CEO comes only months after Azarbarzin succeeded Sternlicht as CEO. 

Azarbarzin, who declined to be interviewed via a representative, le