Website taps into ugly hotels

Officials of Lodging Unlimited have created, a unique Web site that will serve as the base for acquiring “extraordinary potential” hotels.

The company has acquired its first property, the 245-room George Washington Hotel, in Williamsburg, Va. LUI plans to undertake a complete makeover of the property and convert it to an undisclosed upscale brand.

“There currently are a tremendous amount of hotels trading hands,” said Morris Lasky, LUI president and CEO. “However, there is one class of hotels that has not seen as much movement, and those are what we call the ‘extraordinary potential’ hotels. Like the swan in the children’s tale, “The Ugly Duckling,” many hotels have another life in them, but that life needs to be uncovered. That’s what is all about, finding the ugly ducklings with extraordinary potential and giving them a new, profitable life. Usually, these properties are older and need substantial amounts of strategic capital infusion, as well as creative positioning to bring these hotels back to life.”

Lasky noted that LUI specializes in the management of troubled hotels that require deep turnarounds. “ is a natural extension of our business model. In addition to being third-party operators, we also acquire and co-invest in our properties when appropriate,” he said. “We have access to substantial capital through Aries Capital, a nationwide, full-service mortgage banking firm, and other institutional investors, and intend on being aggressive acquirers. We seek the most challenged hotel in a given market, because we are confident that with the right capital and concept, many can be turned around. Our only qualifier is that the hotel must have at least 150 rooms, in a market that has some barriers to new competition. With offices in Chicago, Phoenix and Philadelphia, we can move quickly on properties anywhere in the country,” he noted.

Lasky said the concept of is what prompted him to develop the concept. “Nearly everyone is looking for hotels that they can fix up and turn around, but few are looking at the hotels that need a major, major commitment. We relish the challenge, because we believe that we will generate superior returns after we complete our makeover.”