Commercial real estate investment and hospitality sector expert Jim Kasim worked for Ernst & Young LLP for over 10 years before joining several public and private company owners and operators of commercial real estate, including hospitality assets. During his career, Mr. Kasim led a major strategic shift to invest in the acquisition of luxury resorts. In an interview with Debt & Equity Journal, Jim Kasim outlined the strategies that led him to excel at his charge. At the forefront was his knowledge of the hospitality sector, which he expected to experience strong growth through 2007. That growth inspired hope among hospitality owners and allowed him to be integrally involved in the acquisition of a wide range of properties, including leading the charge to acquire one of the most luxurious resorts in the nation – a Four Seasons Resort.
During his career, Jim Kasim targeted domestic resorts and luxury hotels. The millions of investment dollars targeted towards the acquisition of hospitality assets came from debt and equity, with the exact division of assets determined on a case-by-case basis and factors such as anticipated returns. Targeted deal size per property was from between $40 million to $200 million. Jim Kasim explained to Debt and Equity Journal that the investment strategy does not contemplate preferences on a region-by-region basis in that he believes that the more relevant aspect to consider is the specific sub-markets in a given regional market and the related fundamentals of that specific sub-market.
Amenities represented a key component of Jim Kasim’s plans. He explained to Debt & Equity Journal that he believed the most prudent strategy for the long-term and for the luxury hotel and resort assets that he is targeting is to own and operate the property to provide the best lodging experience to the guests, including first-class amenities. He added that such a strategy may be contrary to strategies utilized in other hotel products where the bar, restaurant or nightclub is the focal service being provided to the guest and where the rooms are arguably considered the amenity. This is not, Mr. Kasim added, to say that one strategy is more effective than the other is. However, for the targeted product type, he believes the former strategy better lends itself to providing the first-class experience to the guests while providing the flexibility to add to the guest experience with top-notch amenities.