Each member of the Executive Team of Driftwood Hospitality Management averages 20 years of hotel experience and has a focus in the major aspects of hotel operations:
David Buddemeyer, Principal and President of Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC and a senior officer of Driftwood Capital, is a hospitality veteran who has successfully facilitated the financial turnaround and growth of several multi-dimensional hotel companies. Before launching Driftwood, Mr. Buddemeyer served as Chairman and CEO of Servico Hotels and Resorts, a NYSE hotel company. During his eight-year tenure as the company’s Executive Vice President, which began in 1990, he was responsible for all facets of Servico’s operations. Under Mr. Buddemeyer’s leadership, the company grew from 28 hotels to 140 hotels and from $42M to $650M in sales, with EBITDA growing at a compound annual rate of 41%, from $16M to $280M. In December 1998, Servico merged with another hotel company, bringing the organization’s portfolio to 180 hotels and more than 30,000 rooms. Upon the successful completion of this merger, Mr. Buddemeyer – along with several of his executive team members – left to launch Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC. Prior to Servico, Mr. Buddemeyer served as Vice President of Operations for Prime Hospitality.
Michael Diaz has served as Chief Operating Officer of Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC since the company’s launch in 1998. In this position, Mr. Diaz oversees Driftwood’s rapidly expanding global hotel portfolio and manages the company’s operations structure. He has been directly involved in the management of over 100 hotels including full-service hotels and resorts and select service assets. Mr. Diaz began his hotel career at Servico, Inc. in 1993, serving roles in operations, acquisitions and projects, and purchasing. Mr. Diaz managed numerous successful renovations and hotel developments, after which he assumed the position of Executive Vice President of Administration, overseeing the legal, human resource and risk management functions for the company. During his tenure at Servico, Inc., the company grew from 32 hotels in 1993 to 140 hotels in 1998. Mr. Diaz was instrumental in executing Servico’s merger with another leading hotel company and upon completion, he left the company to form Driftwood.
Carlos J. Rodriguez, as Executive Vice President of Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC. has successfully built on his 30+ years of experience in finance, real estate and the lodging industry. When his Wall Street investment-banking career was cut short due to a death in his family, Rodriguez moved to his native Costa Rica to head up the Aurola Hotels group (1986 – 1996). Between 1991 and 1995 Rodriguez also served the Costa Rican government as Vice Chairman of the country’s pension, hospitals and social security system and represented his country as its Director of the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (1990-1991). In 1996, Rodriguez relocated to Miami, FL with his family to form Cardel Hotels, a development company, and Cardel Hospitality Group, specializing in hotel management. After opening several successful hotels in the area as well as developing a bank and two restaurant parcels, the Miami Doral-Airport West Chamber of Commerce named Rodriguez its “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2000. In 2003, he merged the Cardel Group with Driftwood Hospitality Management where, as Executive Vice President he oversaw lodging real estate development and acquisitions. With his Driftwood Hospitality partners, he co-founded the group of DVI Cardel Investment Funds in 2006, specializing in hotel properties. His hotels have won numerous awards and accolades across all of the major hospitality franchises. In 2007, Rodriguez teamed up with developer Stephen Blumenthal to form RodBlu Investment Fund to invest in a wider variety of real estate sectors. In 2015, he and his son Carlos Jr. developed the blueprint for Driftwood Acquisitions and Development, designed to combine the best attributes of private equity funds, REITS and high-net worth family offices as a vehicle for highly profitable U.S. hotel investments. Since 2015 DAD has acquired 12 hotels and has several others in various stages of development. Rodriguez holds a degree in Finance from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
Steven M. Johnson, Executive Vice President of Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC joined the firm in July 2002 and is responsible for acquisitions and management contracts. Prior to joining Driftwood, he worked at Interstate Hotels from 1999 to 2002 and before that was in charge of acquisitions for Highgate Holdings. He has also held development positions with Omni Hotels. Mr. Johnson began his career in 1984 as a consultant for Laventhol & Horwath, after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management. Mr. Johnson has been involved in the development and acquisition of hotel and resort assets throughout the United States and Canada.
Peter J. Walz, Executive Vice President of Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC is in charge of renovation and design. Prior to Driftwood, Mr. Walz was President of Lodgian Europe, SA and Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for Servico, Inc. from 1994 to 1999. While leading the development of Servico, Inc. the company grew from 42 hotels to 110 hotels. Prior to Servico, Inc., Mr. Walz developed a hotel and several office and retail projects in California. In addition, Mr. Walz was marketing manager for new products, The Pillsbury Company, and CEO and marketing architect for Rollerblades. He is also a recipient of an Emmy nomination for his work in Children and Family Television Programming.
Marc Kepple, Chief Financial Officer
Marc Kepple, Chief Financial Officer, joined Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC in 2016. In his position, Mr. Kepple is responsible for overseeing the treasury, financial planning, analysis and reporting for the company’s portfolio of properties. Mr. Kepple has over 15 years of accounting and auditing experience, as well as extensive knowledge of hospitality financial operations. He has expertly managed accounts in industries such as hospitality, real estate, gaming, private equity, technology, distributors and government during his tenure with a large national accounting firm.
Carlos Rodriguez, Jr. is Vice President of New Development at Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC. He received his B.A. degree from Duke University in 2009 and was then accepted as part of the Rotational Analyst program at LNR Property, the largest CMBS special servicer, investor, and originator worldwide. After successfully completing the rotational program, Mr. Rodriquez was promoted to an Associate overseeing a newly formed branch of LNR Property dedicated to high volume transactions, special resolutions, and direct equity investments. Mr. Rodriguez left LNR in 2012 to pursue ground-up development projects with his father and Driftwood’s Executive Vice President, Carlos Rodriguez, commencing as the project manager on a $30MM, 238-unit, two-phased condo tower project in San Jose, Costa Rica. Mr. Rodriguez has now returned to Miami, FL to manage the development branch of Driftwood through an EB-5 capital raise platform (DEB5 Development, LLC) starting with a Residence Inn in Flagler Station Miami that is projected to break ground November 2014.
Andrew Stevens, VP of Acquisitions & Development for Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC, is responsible for growing the company’s portfolio of third-party management contracts and identifying business development opportunities. Prior to joining Driftwood, Andrew owned and operated a start-up company in South Florida that included an e-commerce platform, a chain of retail stores, and an international wholesale operation. He has worked with several technology start-ups, including CareCloud and ContractRoom, specializing in product management and business development. Andrew has a BA from Duke University, an International MBA from IE Business School in Madrid, and an MBA from the University of Miami.
Jim Bolin serves as Regional Operations Manager for Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC and has over 35 years of experience in the hotel industry. Mr. Bolin joined Driftwood in 1999 as the General Manager of the Holiday Inn Select in Memphis, Tennessee and became a Regional Operations Manager in June of 2010. His primary duties are to assist the hotels in their operations and sales efforts. Prior to joining the Driftwood team, Mr. Bolin worked at Servico, Inc./Lodgian Hotels for 6 years and held various positions, including General Manager of the Omni Hotel in West Palm Beach and Regional Operations Manager.
Jackie Gerstenfeld, Director of Legal Administration, joined Driftwood Hospitality Management in June 2007 after more than 25 years as a Paralegal, most recently as a Corporate and Securities Paralegal for a prestigious South Florida law firm. Ms. Gerstenfeld also has expertise as a paralegal working on securities and corporate litigation and case management. She oversees the contracts, compliance, loss prevention and litigation for the company.
Tiffany Cahill, Corporate Director of Human Resources, joined Driftwood Hospitality Management in 2007 as an Executive Assistant to the founding partners. Eventually, she advanced within the company by joining the Human Resource team in 2010. Since that time she has made it a priority to recruit and hire the industry’s top talent, while supporting the company’s Human Resource efforts which include training, performance management, career development, diversity program development, employee relations, compensation, safety, and compliance standards. Ms. Cahill began her career in the hospitality industry with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, after graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
Carol Davies, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, a hospitality industry veteran with nearly 25 years of experience, has held a number of multi-hotel sales and marketing leadership positions throughout her career. As VP of sales and marketing, she is primarily responsible for all sales, marketing and e-commerce endeavors for the company’s 70+ owned and managed hotels. Prior to joining Driftwood, Carol served in a variety of regional director roles at management companies such as Hersha Hospitality, Growth Properties, and Island Hospitality formerly known as Innkeepers Hospitality. She has supported Select Service, Full Service, Extended Stay, Boutique and Resort hotels with both branded and boutique flags.
Mr. Cooke brings with him over 20 years of hospitality experience, holding key roles in operations acquisitions and development for organizations such as Marriott, Hilton, Gold Key | PHR, and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Prior to joining Driftwood, he served as Senior Vice President for Schulte Hospitality Group where he managed $200M in annual Food & Beverage revenue, leading teams across 120 hotels. He also managed the formation and growth of an independent private equity enterprise, Table 95 Hospitality Group where he was responsible for concept development, brand alignment and product management across the portfolio while growing company revenues over $50 million.
Al Harrison serves as Vice President of Information Technology bringing with him over 15 years of experience building and supporting complex corporate infrastructures. Harrison provides leadership for the continued development of an innovative, robust, and secure information technology environment that is relied on by over 3000 users across 70+ locations. Al also holds a BS of Computer Science and has worked at several fortune 500 companies doing everything from network and server administration to enterprise architecture, to software development.