Neil Hasu Shah: Grows the 50-hotel empire of Hersha Hospitality Trust
As president and COO of Hersha Hospitality Trust, Neil Shah manages a portfolio of 50 hotels totaling 7,666 rooms in South Florida, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, select West Coast markets and Washington, DC.
Mr. Shah, who in 2006 took over his family’s business with his brother, CEO Jay Shah, has since 2000 led the acquisitions, development and asset management for the company, founded in 1984 by his parents, Hasu and Hersha Shah.
The company’s total assets now stand at $2.6 billion – far beyond where it started with his parents’ purchase of the 24-room Red Rose Motel in the Pennsylvania countryside.
“We learned hospitality together, [how] to clean, tend the front desk [and] saw our parents learn the business by working,” he said. “Slowly, from one property to a second and third, they grew the business into the mid-to-late 1990s.”
Mr. Shah, then a recent Harvard Business School graduate, saw the world in the midst of the first tech boom. He decided the time was perfect to rejoin the company and expand its presence, including in South Florida.
“When the world grows and has the income to have a higher standard of living, the first thing that comes is vacations,” he said.“Some of the first [places] that come to mind around the world are New York City, Disney World and, of course, Miami.”
Hersha now operates six South Florida hotels – the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Residence Inn Miami Coconut Grove, the Winter Haven, Blue Moon Hotel, Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club and Parrot Key Hotel & Villas – and is developing a 147-room hotel in Coral Gables’ Merrick Park.
“We’re partnering with two important stakeholders: Brookfield [Properties Retail Group] and General Growth Properties, the owners of Merrick Park, and the City of Coral Gables,” he said. “I expect we’ll be in the ground toward the end of the year and open late 2020/early 2021.”
Mr. Shah sat down with Miami Today reporter Jesse Scheckner at the Ritz-Carlton. The interview, recorded by Jahmoukie Dayle, can be found Friday at http://bit.ly/2uNHy0Q.
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