Q&A with Bernie Murphy of Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Bernie Murphy, senior vice president of business development, is responsible for spearheading Davidson Hotels & Resorts’ efforts in securing third-party management contracts. Here he discusses the importance of being steady and focused.

Q. Tell me about what attracted you to Davidson Hotels & Resorts.

Bernie Murphy The people. I met some of the senior leadership of Davidson while I was in investment banking and had sold them a hotel in Maryland. You learn a lot about the character of folks involved in a large commercial real estate transaction, and I found the Davidson team meticulous and thoughtful―and they absolutely did what they said they would do, without fail.

Fast forward to about 10 years ago, when I elected to leave investment banking. I sought advice from a number of people in the hospitality industry, as I was figuring out what I wanted to do next. When I spoke with Davidson, an opportunity was presented which perfectly matched my skill set and I jumped at it. And I haven’t looked back since.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

Bernie Murphy Traveling around the country meeting people and trying to put deals together. Actually, the very best part of the job is when a deal comes together and successfully closes.

Eyes on the prize
Eyes on the prize

Q. What will you bring to the development team that is unique to your style of leadership?

Bernie Murphy Gray-haired experience and an even temperament.

Q. How did you first get into the hospitality industry?

Bernie Murphy I graduated from college with an economics degree from the University of Virginia, but really didn’t want to become a Department of Labor economist. So I took the next logical step: I went into the restaurant business! I had heard of an all-suite hotel company, founded by a couple of UVA grads, and it sounded pretty cool. I applied and within two weeks I found myself on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift learning the night audit.

We can’t allow ourselves to get distracted from what we do well. Our owners deserve our focus and discipline.

Q. Has it been a mostly straight path for you, or have there been any detours along the way?

Bernie Murphy It’s been a straight path: I’ve been in some form of the hospitality business since I left college. It’s been a rewarding path in that I’ve had so many great and varied experiences, from restaurants to hotel operations, to hotel sales and marketing, to hotel real estate, and now hotel business development. The hospitality business is fascinating on so many levels.

Eyes on the prize
Eyes on the prize
Eyes on the prize

Q. Will you keep any particular criteria in mind when considering opportunities for growth and development at Davidson?

Bernie Murphy Do what we are good at. We are a value creation company that is perfecting the operating model for 3.5 to 4.5-star full service branded, soft-branded, and independent properties―from commercial hotels to boutiques to lifestyle properties. We can’t allow ourselves to get distracted from what we do well. Our owners deserve our focus and discipline.

Q. What are your expectations for the market?

Bernie Murphy I can say with some degree of certainty that it will go up—or it will go down.

Q. Can you tell me a specific career accomplishment that you’re especially proud of?

Bernie Murphy I’m very proud of my work over the past decade at Davidson within business development. I was added to the Davidson family to make it rain, and I’ve for the most part avoided any sign of drought.

Eyes on the prize
Eyes on the prize
Eyes on the prize

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and/or what’s the most important advice you have to offer?

Bernie Murphy A colleague and close friend shared a thought with me early in our professional relationship, and it has stuck with me to this day: Words mean things. Use them judiciously and truthfully.

Q. Is there anything I didn’t ask but should have? Please elaborate.

Bernie Murphy I have been a member of the hotel industry for over three decades now, and have observed a fundamental change throughout the industry. While hotel managers always tried to be as profitable as possible, the primary raison d’etre of a hotel was to provide hospitality. As the hotel ownership universe has become dominated by private equity and public REITs, lodging has become more of a real estate business. Hotel managers are under enormous pressure for earnings. I think we need to be cautious as an industry to keep a balance between profits and the Art of Hospitality.

We need to be cautious as an industry to keep a balance between profits and the Art of Hospitality.

Davidson Hotels & Resorts was founded in 1974 under a predecessor name and initially grew through its management of small, mid-scale hotels located primarily in the Southeastern U.S. Throughout the last decade, Davidson has developed a roster of blue-chip clients and partners, including public companies, private REITs, opportunity funds, private developers, and high net worth entrepreneurs. Today, Davidson stands as one of the premier lodging companies in the industry.

  • Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel
  • Little Rock Marriott
  • Cape Rey Carlsbad, A Hilton Resort
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles - Westside
  • Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach
  • Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge
  • Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
  • Holiday Inn San Francisco-Civic Center
  • Hotel Zephyr Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey
  • Coming Soon: Hilton Garden Inn at Denver Union Station
  • Sheraton Stamford Hotel
  • Baker’s Cay Resort
  • Beach House Suites - St. Pete Beach
  • Hotel Colonnade Coral Gables
  • The Don CeSar
  • Marriott Atlanta Perimeter Center
  • Courtyard by Marriott Kaua’i at Coconut Beach
  • Chicago Marriott Suites O’Hare
  • Hotel Zachary Gallagher Way
  • Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile
  • Marriott Chicago at Medical District/UIC
  • Graduate Iowa City
  • hotelVetro
  • Sheraton Silver Spring
  • The Westin Annapolis
  • Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall
  • The Hotel Minneapolis
  • The Fontaine
New Jersey
  • Embassy Suites - Berkeley Heights
  • Hanover Marriott
  • Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
  • Hilton Eugene
  • Valley River Inn
Rhode Island
  • Hotel Viking
  • Franklin Marriott Cool Springs
  • The Park Vista - A DoubleTree Hotel - Gatlinburg
  • Hilton Alexandria Mark Center
  • Hilton Garden Inn Arlington/Courthouse Plaza

By Ashley Atkins