Bennett Hospitality

The story of a family-owned developer of hotels in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Montana.

Click here to listen to Mike Bennett’s story.

GE Capital Commercial Real Estate provides Bennett Hospitality with timely, flexible financing solutions for the company's hotel developments.

We thought you might like to hear Mike Bennett's story...

Business challenge

Several years ago, Bennett embarked on an ambitious new project: a full-scale renovation of the historic South Carolina State Arsenal—more commonly known as the “Old Citadel,” due to its history as the original home of the South Carolina Military Academy.

Bennett's goal was to convert this prominent Charleston structure, listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings, into an elegant Embassy Suites hotel. At the very end of construction, though, the company ran into trouble with its existing lender. Completion of the conversion was in jeopardy.

GE Capital Real Estate’s strategy

For the past eight years, Greg Forester, relationship manager for GE Capital Real Estate, worked alongside Michael Bennett, founder of Bennett Hospitality, getting to know the ins and outs of his business and providing a sounding board for his project ideas. Greg has acted as a trusted advisor keeping Michael Bennett abreast of national hotel and real estate trends, making introductions to other players in the space and helping him grow his portfolio.

Drawing on GE Capital Real Estate's deep expertise in the commercial real estate space, Greg and his team were able to come up with a financial solution that allowed Bennett to meet its goals with the Embassy Suites, and again in another transaction despite a tough lending environment this past summer.

I can't get from a bank what I get from GE. In fact, I don't even think of GE as a bank. I think of GE obviously as a lender; but, I think of GE as a partner.

–Michael Bennett
Owner of Bennett Hospitality

GE Capital Real Estate recognized that an affordable financing solution could be achieved by cross-collateralizing the Old Citadel property with another of Bennett's developments. By lending money across both this project and Bennett's then two-year-old Hampton Inn property in Charleston's Historic District, GE Capital was able to provide the developer with the funds required to make the Embassy Suites Charleston a reality.

While other lenders failed to meet structuring needs, GE Capital Real Estate was able to create a flexible, tailored solution this past summer enabling Bennett to recapitalize a $48 million portfolio that paid off a commercial mortgage-backed security.

The results

Despite intense competition from lower-cost competitors, GE Capital Real Estate's combination of unmatched capabilities and status as a trusted partner made it Bennett Hospitality's primary real estate financing provider.

Over the past 14 years, GE Capital Real Estate has helped Bennett close six deals totaling $138 million. Currently, Bennett has another deal in closing with two additional properties totaling $35 million with GE Capital Real Estate as the lender—with plans for more in the future. In the words of Bennett Hospitality owner Michael Bennett:

My goal from early on was to create a multi-generational company. I look forward to the next twenty years of developing hotels with GE, and at some point along the way bringing my children in to work with GE.”