Senior Management Team
Mr. Kurnit is a Principal of Beacon Hospitality Partners. Prior to joining Beacon, he was global head of the DTZ Hospitality Group, and prior to DTZ, Mr. Kurnit was President and Founder of InnVision Hospitality Services, LLC, a hotel management and advisory company. From 2004-2006, InnVision served exclusively as the owners representative to Strategic Hotel Capital, LLC, an entity controlled by affiliates of Goldman Sachs and Prudential. InnVision spearheaded the disposition of this $1.6 billion hotel portfolio which consisted of seven first-class and luxury hotel assets located in New York City and California.
Prior to InnVision, Mr. Kurnit was head of Franchise and Real Estate Development for the Americas Division of InterContinental Hotels Group where he was responsible for the growth and development of all IHG brands in North, Central and South America. Mr. Kurnit's prior experience also includes serving as Managing Director of the Mortgage and Real Estate Division of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association where he was responsible for the asset management and disposition of TIAA's $300 million equity hotel portfolio. Prior to TIAA, Mr. Kurnit spent 12 years with Prudential where he was responsible for the asset management and investment function for the company's $3 billion equity hotel investment portfolio, as well as Prudential's hotel lending activities. Mr. Kurnit holds a B.S. in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.
Mr. Huffsmith is a Principal of Beacon Hospitality Partners. Prior to joining Beacon, he was a Managing Director with DTZ Hospitality Group. Prior to joining DTZ, Mr. Huffsmith was Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer for CNL Income Properties, Inc., a public REIT. Mr. Huffsmith’s experience also includes serving as President of Regent International Hotels, where he was responsible for leading the worldwide expansion of the luxury Regent Hotel company. Prior to Regent, Mr. Huffsmith served with InterContinental Hotels Group as head of Development, Asset Management and Technical Services in EMEA, as well as LaSalle Partners and Prudential Realty Group. Mr. Huffsmith holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He also received a B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. Mr. Huffsmith was an accredited instructor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Office of Continuing Education from 1995 to 2003.
Mr. Couture is a Senior Managing Director of Beacon Hospitality Partners. Prior to joining Beacon, Mr. Couture was Senior Vice President of HotelAVE, where he provided investment and operational advisory services to private ownership and investor groups. Preceding his position at HotelAVE, he was responsible for developing strategic master plans at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Previous to joining Starwood Hotels, Mr. Couture was Vice President, Asset Management for the Starwood Capital Group where he managed the Company’s Asian Fund that included a portfolio of hospitality, commercial and residential properties in Thailand and Japan. He also managed a 14-property domestic hotel portfolio and successfully completed six single asset hotel sales. Upon joining Starwood Capital he managed the origination and underwriting of hotel properties for the Starwood Mezzanine Debt Fund.
Prior to Starwood, Mr. Couture served as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management at LaSalle Partners, Vice President of Asset Management at the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (HSBC), Director of Hotel Acquisitions at Liberty Real Estate and Asset Manager at Prudential Realty Group. Before pursuing a career in real estate, Mr. Couture had a broad background in hotel operations that spanned ten years, having held management positions with Marriott, Sheraton and the Howard Johnson Company. He was a Regional Manager for Howard Johnson Motor Lodges prior to pursuing a Masters Degree that he earned in 1984 from the School of Hotel Management at Cornell University.
Mr. Walters is a Managing Director of Beacon Hospitality Partners. With almost 25 years of experience, prior to joining Beacon, Robert spent almost seven years with BDO Investment Management Limited (part of the BDO global accountancy practice) where, as Investment Director for Property, he was responsible for all aspects of the Firm’s real estate strategy from asset allocation to fund analysis and selection. In addition, he was responsible for the establishment, financing and management of the Firm’s own real estate funds, which invested in UK and European commercial property (including Germany) and prime central London residential development, ultimately managing a portfolio of more than £750m of assets.
His financial career commenced at Swiss Bank Corp International in London, before moving to Eagle Star, Equitable Life and HBOS plc, followed by boutique advisory businesses Cavanagh and Pantheon, before joining BDO at the end of 2004 since when his focus was on the structure, governance, financing and management of real estate projects.
Ms. Pong is a Senior Vice President of Beacon Hospitality Partners. Prior to joining Beacon, she was Assistant Vice President of Asset Management for Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts, asset managing the Four Seasons Hotel New York. Prior to Ty Warner, Ms. Pong was Vice President of Asset Management for Denihan Hospitality Group, asset managing a portfolio of eight domestic hotels. Ms. Pong's experience also includes spending over eight years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide working in various teams, including Owner Services, Real Estate Investment Management, Sheraton Brand Operations, and Joint Ventures & Dispositions.
Prior to joining Starwood, Ms. Pong spent several years working as a Senior Associate for HVS International, providing hospitality consulting and appraisal services for over 75 properties in more than 30 markets. Ms. Pong began her hotel career working in hotel operations in the luxury segment both domestically and internationally. Ms. Pong holds a M.S. in Hospitality Industry Studies from New York University and a B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University.