Stars to Watch 2013: Gilda Perez-Alvarado

Senior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels

Memorable Achievements: Among Perez-Alvarado’s most recent deals were last year’s sale of the Essex House in New York, a very complicated deal in which the general manager of the hotel resigned and operator Jumeirah Group, a subsidiary of owner Dubai Investment Group, flew in a representative from Dubai to fill in, according to Arthur Adler, managing director & CEO of the Americas for Jones Lang LaSalle’s hotels & hospitality group. “She was able to establish an excellent relationship with this individual, which was extremely important” given the sales process, which included more than 100 inspections of the property by potential investors. She was also able to communicate to those investors all the nuances of the property, which included residential condominiums and food-and-beverage operations. It ultimately sold to Strategic Hotels and Resorts in joint venture with KSL Capital Partners L.L.C. for $362.3 million and was reflagged as a Marriott. Other sales last year included the Morgans and Royalton, Paramount and Novotel in New York and the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. She closed on the sale of the Intercontinental New Orleans in January 2013.

Best Advice Received: Adler often reiterates: “This is a marathon, not a race.” Look at the big picture, and don’t just focus on the short term. And the company’s culture is to have fun at what you’re doing.

Secrets to Success: A team approach and being passionate about what she does. Always thinking about how to improve on what she’s doing, not just doing the same thing over and over again.

Greatest Challenges: Managing through the downturn, especially in Europe and particularly in Spain, when the phones stopped ringing and people were being laid off. The country leader resigned, leaving Perez-Alvarado and two other people in the office, reporting to the European CEO, based in London. With the debt advisory business non-existent, the group started a new business providing advisory services for banks, and Perez-Alvarado matriculated in an executive MBA program at the Instituto de Empresa in an effort to develop a better knowledge of the culture and new ideas by interacting with executives from other industries. The efforts paid off; most of the clients were foreign banks based in Madrid, and they responded favorably.

Advice to Others: You have to spend time doing research, understanding the numbers, networking. Have a pretty wholesome focus in your career and don’t limit it to office hours. It’s a very people-intensive industry.

What Others Say About Her: Having worked with Perez-Alvarado since 2007, Travis Ray, vice president of capital investments and transactions for Intercontinental Hotels Group,  is pleased with how she has grown in her career and her responsibilities. He particularly praised her ability to “go with the flow” when something doesn’t go as planned, as well as her ability to connect with people despite being a woman in a very male-dominated field, easily participating in whatever conversation is taking place. Her global background lends a unique perspective, as well, contributing important cultural insight, and she is both thorough and “thoughtfully direct.” Adler also emphasized her global perspective, saying that it “gives her a perspective on the global lodging industry and transactions that very few people much senior to her have.” He noted her excellent relationships with owners and investors in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, as well as strengths such as her grasp of finance; ability to quickly gauge what the client needs, articulate it and add value to their business; ability to juggle work and manage people; as well as the fact that she is a quick study.

—Suzann D. Silverman

More details on the accomplishments of CPE’s 2013 Stars to Watch appeared in the May 2013 issue.