06/17/2013 | by
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Hotel REIT Plans to Expand in the South

Drew Sims, chairman and CEO of SoTHERLY Hotels (NASDAQ: SOHO), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview in Chicago at REITWeek 2013: NAREIT's Investor Forum.

SoTHERLY Hotels is a Virginia-based lodging REIT with a portfolio of full-service hotels primarily located in the South. The company, formerly known as MHI Hospitality, underwent a rebranding in April 2013 to more clearly define its mission.

“The reception from the investment community has been very positive. Our company traded for almost 55 years as MHI. My father founded the company back in 1957, so there’s a little nostalgia in changing the name,” Sims said.

After a complete restructuring of the company’s balance sheet and a redirection of its expansion efforts in its core Southern markets, Sims said that the name reflects what the REIT’s mission will be going forward.

He said that while the company has hotels in locations such as Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Raleigh, Wilmington, NC, and Louisville, Atlanta is one of SoTHerly’s most important markets.

“Those markets are fed out of Atlanta so we feel like having a signature hotel in Atlanta is a must for us. That’s going to be our first stop,” Sims said. “After that it is markets like Houston, Charleston, Charlotte, and others to follow after that.”

When it comes to fundamentals and sustaining the momentum in the hotel sector, Sims said the lack of new supply will help to ensure continued growth.

“It bodes well for the future of our industry. We’re not seeing a lot of new product and as a result of increased demand we’re actually in a very good position for extended growth,” he said. “Our belief is that in the next two or three years we should see a continued growth in rates, and occupancy has already stabilized at a very healthy level.”