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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 12, 2018

Cheryl-Anne Sturken, senior consulting editor for Meetings & Conventions magazineDream Hollywood HotelFour years ago, when David Kuperberg jumped from an executive position with Virgin Hotels to become chief development officer for the Dream Hotel Group, his focus was to expand the luxury and lifestyle hotel management company beyond the confines of New York City, where the 30-year-old company had made its base.

This week I checked in with him to see what Dream's expansion strategy was for growing its four brands -- the Chatwal, Dream Hotels, Time Hotels and Unscripted Hotels -- which currently comprise a total of 10 properties. I learned two things: First, Dream Hotels in particular has an impressive hotel-development pipeline, and secondly, its emphasis on serious food-and-beverage outlets as part of its brand identity is a major factor propelling interest among developers.

"People thought we were crazy putting a hotel south of 57 Street, when we opened Dream Midtown, our first Dream property" said Kuperberg. "Then we followed that up with Dream Downtown in 2011 in the Meatpacking area, which we now consider our flagship brand. We were one of the first hotels to move into that location, and we are right next to Google, which is our biggest client. It has been a huge success." Last year the hotel pulled in $36 million in F&B revenue alone.

When he joined DHG, Kuperberg expected to grow the Dream division by perhaps one hotel every five years. He now admits he was way off. Today, it has the fastest-growing portfolio of the company's four brands.

In July 2017, DHG opened the hyper-chic 178-room Dream Hollywood, above, its first property outside of the Big Apple, which features five dining outlets, a rooftop pool and bar, and 3,000 square feet of meeting space. It has quickly become a magnet for locals, said Kuperberg, and is pulling in some impressive first-year numbers, including $1 million a week in F&B revenue.

Before the Dream Hollywood came a hotel in Miami's South Beach, and two in Thailand -- one in Bangkok and a resort in Phuket. Opening later this year is the 168-room Dream Nashville, in the city's Printer Alley district in two joined landmark buildings. It will have the typical Dream brand's sleek design with a healthy dash of Music City's Southern roots, six hip eateries and 8,000 square feet of meeting space. "This is going to be one cool hotel, in one very hot destination," said Kuperberg.

Also in the works is a 170-room Dream hotel in Palm Springs, Calif., which is expected to open in 2019. "With Dream Hollywood being so successful, this one will be our Hamptons resort," Kupferberg said. "It will truly be an experience, not just another hotel."

The brand's robust pipeline includes international developments in Belize, and in Doha and New Delhi, both in India. Plans afoot for adding product in major cities such as Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

When it comes to group business, expect Dream Hotels to get aggressive. In April of this year, shortly after Marriott International announced it was cutting third-party group business commissions to 7 percent, Dream was quick to take up the gauntlet. It launched a 12 percent commission program targeting third-party business booked and executed by Dec. 31, 2018.

"Group business at our hotels is growing year-over-year, and we have made a pledge to go after it, especially as our footprint grows and we get bigger," said Kuperberg.