Two longtime collaborators in the local hotel scene have tightened their ties.
Retro Hospitality will take on management duties for Quirk Hotel Richmond and Quirk Hotel Charlottesville effective April 1, taking over from Hyatt Hotels.
When Quirk Richmond launched seven years ago, it was managed by a boutique-focused management firm that was acquired by Hyatt a few years later.
Ted Ukrop, who owns Quirk with his wife Katie, said the hotel stuck with its original management firm for a time but ultimately decided to part with Hyatt.
“We went with that transition. Nothing against Hyatt. But they are a global brand and we always wanted to be an independent, authentic boutique hotel. It was really challenging to do that with a company trying to brand themselves,” Ukrop said. “We’re a small, nimble group and it’s hard to work with an operator that is just so big. It’s like turning the Titanic sometimes to get something done.”
Enter Retro Hospitality, a Richmond-based firm whose CEO Paul Cooper has been a longtime consultant and asset manager for the Quirk brand. Ukrop said Retro Hospitality and a couple other firms were considered for the role. Ukrop didn’t share specifics but said Quirk expected to see an overall decrease in management costs due to the switch.
Cooper said Retro Hospitality intends to lean into Quirk’s emphasis on the arts through a few different initiatives, though he didn’t want to reveal details yet. Both Quirk hotels feature art galleries.
“The focus is to bring a very strong, art-focused approach to the property that would involve a very high level of programming and events that will be executed with the art gallery under Katie Ukrop’s leadership,” Cooper said, referring to the Richmond hotel. “Expect to see more events and some creative programming that will involve everything from artist engagement with our guests (to) packages that will revolve around art initiatives both in the hotel and in the Richmond community.”
The Richmond Quirk at 201 W. Broad St. has 73 rooms, and the Charlottesville Quirk has 80 rooms. Each of the hotels has about 75 employees.
With the Quirk hotels in hand, Retro Hospitality will have four properties under management. In Charlottesville, the firm also manages a food hall called The Dairy Market.
Retro Hospitality has another three properties under development that the firm would operate, among them the Hotel Petersburg. Cooper said construction is slated to start in mid-May and they expect to open to guests in fall 2023.
Cooper said the hotels in Retro Hospitality’s portfolio are about 15-20 percent below occupancy rates they had in 2019. Broadly, leisure travel continues to recover after the worst of the pandemic and corporate travel is seeing a slower recovery.