WASHINGTON - Jan. 15, 1999 -- The largest hotel in the nation's capital, the Marriott Wardman Park on Connecticut Avenue, has been bought by a hotel investment group headed by local businessmen Frederic V. Malek and Leland C. Pillsbury.
The new owners will carry out a $50 million renovation of all guest rooms and public spaces in the historic hotel that will make it one of the nation's most modern and comfortable convention facilities and will attract additional visitors to the District of Columbia, spurring a vital segment of the Washington area's economy.
The 1,338-room Marriott Wardman Park was purchased last week by Thayer Hotel Investors, an Annapolis-based investment firm founded by Malek, Pillsbury and several other Washington-area businessmen with outstanding track records in the hotel industry. The overall purchase price for the hotel exceeded $200 million.
Measured either by the size of the hotel or the sale price, the transaction was the largest real estate deal in the American hotel industry over the past year.
"All of us at Thayer Hotel Investors are delighted to be associated with the premier hotel in the nation's capital," Mr. Malek said. "We are committing significant resources and a great deal of energy to ensure that the Marriott Wardman Park will be one of America's most sought-after convention venues."
Pillsbury added, "We can make this commitment because Washington, D.C. is a vibrant city that is attractive to visitors for a host of reasons. By providing a world-class convention facility, we believe we can contribute to the growth of Washington's regional economy and the economic opportunities available to local residents."
The Marriott Wardman Park is currently Washington's most complete convention
facility. It has more guest rooms than any other hotel in the region, more
meeting rooms and exhibit space, one of the area's largest ballrooms and
a total of 173,000 square feet of meeting and
The hotel also is rich in history. The oldest portion of the hotel, Wardman Tower, dates to 1928, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been home to three U.S. presidents. The first television broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press originated from the Wardman Park.
The hotel's previous owner, Boston-based John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance
Co., has already begun a complete interior and exterior restoration of
Wardman Tower that will include furnishing its suites with European antiques,
many of them original to the hotel. Thayer
Thayer also will execute a complete remodeling of the entry lobby and
public spaces of the Marriott Wardman Park that will enable the hotel to
greet guests in a more welcoming environment. Thayer will expand and update
the existing lobby, completely redo the hotel's
Along with its significance for Washington's convention and tourism
industry, Thayer's purchase of the Wardman Park will have an impact on
the hotel industry nationwide. According to The Plasencia Group, a leading
national real-estate brokerage that specializes in
The transaction also elevates Thayer into the top ranks ofAmerica's hotel ownership and development firms. Thayer currently owns 16 hotels nationwide that are managed by a number of well-known operating companies, including Marriott, Doubletree and Sheraton.
In its past hotel purchases, Thayer has improved the financial performance
of properties by improving facilities and, where necessary, bringing in
new management. But Thayer is delighted to announce that Marriott International
will continue to manage the
Lee Pillsbury stated, "This purchase is indicative of the great investment opportunities in the hotel industry today. We look forward to further acquisitions in 1999 in the Washington area and elsewhere."
Thayer was founded eight years ago by Mr. Malek and Mr. Pillsbury, both
of whom had previously enjoyed successful careers in hotel management and
development at Marriott International. (Mr. Malek, a graduate of the U.S.
Military Academy, named Thayer in honor
Mr. Malek has a long record of achievement in business and politics.
Along with his work at Marriott, he led a leveraged buyout of Northwest
Airlines in the early 1990s and has since established and serves as chairman
of Thayer Capital Partners, a Washington-based
Mr. Pillsbury previously spent 20 years at Marriott, where as a corporate
officer he oversaw the company's Residence Inns and Fairfield Inns divisions.
During his tenure, the number of hotels in these divisions increased from
125 to more than 700.
|Also See:||Marriott to Manage Sheraton Washington / March 1998|
|Thayer Lodging Group Obtains $327 Million Loan from Capital America|