Amid big corporate changes, Gaylord National had solid year -- Gazette.Net


Hurricane Sandy took its toll, but revenues were still up last year at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor.

And officials with the 1,996-room Oxon Hill hotel — the biggest in Prince George’s County — hope to land even more customers this year through its new manager, Marriott International of Bethesda.

The hotel took in an average of $331.78 total revenue per available room last year. That includes payment for the room, plus other hotel spending by its guests. That was up from $322.77 in 2011.

Its average daily room rate also increased, to $202.24 last year from $195.66 in 2011, according to Ryman Hospitality Properties’ filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Occupancy ticked up to 68.9 percent from 68.8 percent.

Last year’s numbers were a reversal from 2011, when revenues and occupancy both fell from 2010.

Ryman, of Nashville, Tenn., is the real estate investment trust that owns the Gaylord properties. In September, after overcoming some stockholder resistance, Gaylord converted itself into a real estate investment trust with the Ryman name. It also struck a $210 million deal under which Marriott took over the Gaylord brand and management of its four hotel properties.

Gaylord National was one of the first Gaylord properties to be fully converted to Marriott management, including the adoption of the Marriott Rewards program, which awards customers points for hotel stays and other eligible purchases; points can be traded for hotel stays. Ryman hopes to draw from Marriott’s 11.2 million program members who live within 300 miles of a Gaylord hotel and 40 million customers in general, according to Ryman’s investor and analyst day webcast on Friday.

Thirty percent of Marriott’s 27,000 room additions in 2012 came from the acquisition of the Gaylord brand, according to Marriott’s earnings report on Tuesday.

Ryman also hopes to boost its group bookings 4 percent through Marriott, as group bookings account for 77 percent of Ryman guests. About 60 percent of Ryman hotel revenues come from hotel-related purchases, not the actual room fee, according to the webcast.

Gaylord National is the fifth-largest group hotel in the U.S., according to the Ryman officials, and had additional break-out meeting space and an events lawn added in 2012.

The hotel suffered a blow from Sandy in October, when 7,000 room nights were canceled, CFO Mark Fioravanti said during a November conference call with investors. All told, Sandy cost Gaylord hotels $3 million.

Ryman reported a $26.6 million net loss in 2012, compared with a $10.2 million loss in 2011, when it was still Gaylord Entertainment. The company also reported $987 million in revenues in 2012, up from $952 million in 2011.

The transformation last fall was challenging because of the number of people involved, Ryman CEO Colin Reed said in the November conference call.

“These are not like converting Holiday Inns to Marriotts. These are massive hotels, and the amount of technological infrastructure that needs to change here for these to be plugged in is just — it’s massive,” Reed said. “Many of our employees at both the corporate and hotel levels were faced with a great degree of uncertainty of their futures as we fundamentally restructured our company.”

Reed said during the call that he was confident 2013 will produce the “highest level of profitability” the Gaylord hotels have ever produced and that the free cash flow will be “substantial.”

Representatives from Ryman, Marriott and Gaylord National declined comment this week, citing their “quiet period” during earnings reports.

The Peterson Cos. of Fairfax, Va., owner of National Harbor, is still waiting to see what all this means for the $4 billion mixed-use development, but little has changed since Marriott’s takeover, Peterson spokeswoman Rocell Viniard said in an email to The Gazette.

“The communication from the hotel is still consistent to what it has been in the past with them communicating when groups will be out of sessions and the potential to dine and shop is strong,” Viniard said. “It is important that the retailers and restaurants are able to provide the best customer service possible and this piece of communication has always been critical to that success. But, this has remained the same.”

A few of the local merchants in National Harbor said they have seen no changes since the transition.

Marriott also has expressed interest in the construction of a 1,500-room Gaylord conference hotel in Aurora, Colo, Marriott spokesman John Wolf said in an email to The Gazette. The project originally belonged to Gaylord Entertainment.

Marriott reported this week that its fourth-quarter profit grew to $181 million from $141 million in the prior-year quarter, as revenues rose to $3.76 billion from $3.69 billion.