Local Company Wins Hotelier of the Year
Choice Hotels, with more than 6,800 hotels in over 35 countries, awarded its Premier Hotelier award to State College-based Hospitality Asset Management Company
STATE COLLEGE, PA – It was a breezy autumn day last year when Mark Morath chased after a flier blowing around the parking lot of the Quality Inn on Atherton Street in State College.
Pinning the flier to the ground with his foot, he bent down, picked it up and walked it to the trash can before entering for one of his routine check-ins. The hotel is one of 11 managed by his company, Hospitality Asset Management Company (HAMCO).
It’s small acts like grabbing a rogue flier blowing in the wind that no guest would see that likely led Choice Hotels, one of the world's largest hotel companies, to name the State College-based operator Premier Hotelier of the year.
“When we got word that we were the Premier Hotelier of the year, it took some time to set in,” said Morath, who founded the hotel group 20 years ago in 1998. “It was a couple days until we realized how big this honor was for our company.”
The executive team from Hospitality Asset Management Company receives Hotelier of the Year award from Choice Hotels at its annual convention this year. From left to right is David Pepper, Choice Hotels Chief Development Officer; Edward Tubbs, COO of HAMCO; Bruce White, CFO of HAMCO; Mark Morath, CEO of HAMCO; and Patrick Pacious, CEO of Choice Hotels.
There are more than 6,800 Choice Hotels in over 35 countries operating under brands such as Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Mainstay Suites and Cambria Hotels. The elite designation of Premier Hotelier was given to HAMCO in May at its annual convention in Las Vegas.
It’s the second major award the hotelier received this year. In April, Days Inn Penn State was named 2017 Hotel of the Year by the Wyndham Hotel Group. The location also won Hotel of the Year last year, making it the first to win the honor in back-to-back years.
Part of its success is clearly the company’s drive to innovate. It was one of few hoteliers to volunteer to be a beta tester for new initiatives for the Quality Inn brand and was an early supporter of Choice’s Ascend brand of boutique, unique or historic hotels when it joined with the Carnegie Inn and Spa.
“We always want to be on the forefront of innovation and not behind the curve,” Morath said.
Today, HAMCO, also known as Lion Country Lodging, employs more than 500 people throughout Central Pennsylvania. It also operates four restaurants attached to its hotels — Gigi’s Southern Table and Carnegie House in State College, PA; 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion in Carlisle, PA; and CH Fields in Indiana, PA.
“For us, it’s all about getting the basics right,” Edward Tubbs, who leads the operations as COO for HAMCO, said. “It’s not one thing; it’s the details in everything.”
Tubbs also credits hiring well and recognizing employees when they go above and beyond. For example, the front desk manager at Days Inn, Xue Li “Snow” Lewis, helps guests from China set up local appointments with doctors and government agencies.
“She’s such a resource for our guests; we printed new business cards for her so they were in two languages,” Tubbs said.
Going forward, the company plans to grow with two more hotels this year— a Comfort Suites in Camp Hill and a dual-branded Wingate and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Parsippany, N.J., which will be the first of its kind in the country.
The company also consults with hotel owners about operations, information technology, human resources, sales and marketing.
“Last year was a great year for us but the future is going to be even better,” Morath said.
About Hospitality Asset Management Company Inc.
Hospitality Asset Management Company operates nine Pennsylvania lodging properties and four restaurants. The company is a full-service management organization with extensive experience in hotel and restaurant development, financing, and operations.
In State College, they manage the AAA Four Diamond Carnegie Inn & Spa, Days Inn Penn State, Hilton Garden Inn, Super 8, Quality Inn, Nittany Budget Motel, Gigi'S Southern Table and Carnegie Inn Fine Dining. In Carlisle, PA, their operations include the Comfort Suites, Comfort Inn and 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion and in Indiana, PA, on the campus of IUP, the Hilton Garden Inn and CH Fields Craft Kitchen. Also under development are properties in Parsippany, New Jersey and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.