Lou Plasencia is The Plasencia Group’s fearless leader, an affable entrepreneur and gregarious family man with an ironclad commitment to the hospitality industry. He founded The Plasencia Group in 1993.
As the firm’s Chairman and CEO, Lou is responsible for business development activities and the oversight of all acquisitions, dispositions and consulting engagements. He began his career with Hyatt Hotels Corporation over thirty years ago. After his departure from Hyatt, Lou spent a number of years in investment sales with a major national commercial real estate firm.
A natural trailblazer, the father of three eventually grew weary of the corporate environment and decided in the early 1990s to launch his own startup – The Plasencia Group, his boutique alternative to corporate hotel brokerage.
The close-knit firm was born out of passion and sheer gumption. The oldest of three siblings, Lou arrived in Tampa’s Ybor City as a young Cuban immigrant, living with his family in a one-room apartment, the son of cigar factory worker, who he says instilled in him the importance of “committing yourself to one thing and doing it better than anyone else.”
As an undergrad at Loyola University in New Orleans, he studied psychology and broadcast media before going on to get his Master’s in Education from Indiana University. After a brief stint in as a Student Affairs administrator at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Lou landed a job in Hyatt’s sales and marketing department in New Orleans. He eventually returned to Tampa to oversee the development of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on the shores of Tampa Bay and from there, launched a long and storied career in hotel investment sales and consulting.
During his two decades as the face of The Plasencia Group, Lou has steered a plethora of heavy-hitting hospitality deals, including one-off transactions and major portfolio disposition engagements. Over the years, he has brought together sellers and investors for the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C., the Four Seasons in Atlanta, Georgia, and Amelia Island Plantation in Northeast Florida. Recognized for his integrity and deal savvy, he has served as a trusted advisor for MetLife Real Estate Investments, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Other transaction and consulting clients include AEW Capital Partners, Bank of America, Blackstone, The Prudential Insurance Company of America and countless high-net-worth hotel and resort owners.
Lou is an active member of the Hotel Development Council of the Urban Land Institute. He serves on the Tampa Bay Tourist Development Council, the Pastor’s Council of St. Lawrence Catholic Church, the Florida Council of 100 and the Foundation for Florida’s Future.
A longtime resident of Tampa, he is proud to work alongside his three sons (Chris, Nick and John) in the family business. Lou has been married for over three decades to his wife Jennifer, with whom he enjoys cooking, vacationing and playing “off the grid.” If he doesn’t answer his cell phone, it’s because he’s out fishing or hiking a forest.
One of my favorite words in my native Spanish is confianza. It’s the intimate affection that builds in a friendship over time. It’s the very real affection we have for our longstanding clients. It’s also something we work hard to earn and, most importantly, it lasts a lifetime.
A longtime banker, Tampa resident Orlando Plasencia spent the first 18 years of his career at Wells Fargo National Bank (formerly Wachovia). He stepped in as The Plasencia Group’s chief administrative officer in 2000, after receiving several 3 a.m. S.O.S. emails from his brother, Lou Plasencia, The Plasencia Group’s founder and CEO.
As CAO, Orlando is responsible for overseeing the daily operating and administrative functions at The Plasencia Group, including managing all support staff and services across the firm’s offices. His interoffice responsibilities run the gamut from the banal to the exciting, including negotiating agreements for the firm, managing the company’s state-of-the-art virtual data room, maintaining HR policies and making sure the office coffee pot is empty and turned off at the end of each day.
A graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans, Orlando holds the designation of Certified Cash Manager from the Treasury Management Association. During his time with Wells Fargo, he served in a credit underwriting and marketing capacity, focusing primarily on Fortune 500 clients.
The multitasking CAO loves to organize company picnics and outings. His famous pulled pork earned The Plasencia Group a second-place win in the Tampa Pig Jig, an annual BBQ competition in downtown Tampa benefitting kidney disease. When he’s not hanging with his wife, Lisa, daughter and son-in-law, Jaclyn and Jack, or granddaughter, Belle, Orlando can be spotted in his Carrollwood neighborhood, walking his 70-pound Golden Retriever, Skipper – The Plasencia Group’s unofficial company mascot.
Regarding his decision 15 years ago to join the family business, Plasencia says, “There’s comfort in knowing you’re working with your family. There are no ulterior motives or desires. We’re rowing the boat together.”
There’s comfort in knowing you’re working with your family. There are no ulterior motives or desires. We’re rowing the boat together.
When Richard Conti walks into a hotel, even as a guest, he surveys the space like you would a business. He pays attention to the conditions of the furniture, the dust on the fixtures and the efficiency of the staff. It’s an occupational impulse, which is why Conti stays in condos when he’s on vacation.
A native of Upstate New York, Conti is an industry veteran with four decades of hotel expertise under his belt. A self-described “deal junkie,” he joined The Plasencia Group nine years ago as a senior managing director.
He spent the 1990s as a Principal and Director with Coopers & Lybrand LLP (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) in their National Hospitality Consulting Practice, before taking over as President of Boykin Lodging Company, a NYSE Lodging REIT based in Cleveland, Ohio. Under Conti’s leadership, Boykin Lodging doubled its hotel portfolio before being purchased in 2006 for $416 million.
Conti has always known he wanted to buy and sell hotels. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the State University of New York at Brockport, Conti received his Master’s of Business Administration in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from Michigan State University. He sits on the executive board of the School of Hotel Business at Michigan State and has served as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Hotel Development Council of the Urban Land Institute. A loquacious speaker, he is frequently tapped to give lectures at hotel industry events and has been quoted dozens of times on industry related issues in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times, among other publications.
Conti splits his time between Cleveland and Tampa with his wife of 37 years. He has three children, five grandchildren and a lake house in Chautauqua, New York, to which he retreats every summer to fish.
When I’m selling a hotel, I treat it like I own the hotel. I push for everything that benefits the seller. I’ve known most of my clients for over 30 years. It comes to a point when you’re no longer working for a client, you’re working for a friend.
Robert Wiemer is The Plasencia Group’s resident power broker. As Senior Vice President of The Plasencia Group’s Southwest Region, Wiemer has a storied reputation among Texas hoteliers. The Houston-based executive has coordinated the disposition of over $2 billion in hospitality sales – more than any other person in the Lone Star State. His greatest hits collection includes the sale of the New Orleans Embassy Suites, Houston InterContinental Airport Sheraton, Houston Galleria DoubleTree Suites, InterContinental Houston Galleria and a portfolio of Marriott-branded hotels in the New Orleans area.
Prior to joining The Plasencia Group in 1994, Robert served as the Director of Asset Dispositions at American General Corporation, where he once again exceled, leading investment sales in hotels, office buildings, retail centers, apartments and industrial investments for brands such as Embassy Suites, DoubleTree, Marriott and Holiday Inn.
The Louisiana native has devoted most of his career to asset management and dispositions. He honed his business acumen managing bank-owned real estate properties, first for First Republic Bank Houston and later for Collecting Bank, NA, a division of First City Bank-Texas. He graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Master’s of Business Administration.
A straight-shooting Southern gentleman, Robert is a natural extrovert and a rabid New Orleans Saints fan. He spends his free time volunteering at charity crawfish boils around Houston and hunting birds in exotic countries with his four children.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling hotels or widgets. The more time you put into it, the better your return. We’re a small firm competing against national and international firms. We excel on the service side. I think we substantially outperform based on our size.
Dennis Reed came to The Plasencia Group in 1994 after forming a long-distance friendship with fellow Grubb & Ellis Company colleague and The Plasencia Group founder, Lou Plasencia. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the two executives worked in the same division on two different coasts – Lou in Florida and Dennis in California. After 12 years with Grubb & Ellis, Dennis ditched the corporate world to join Plasencia at his new Tampa startup.
As Senior Vice President of The Plasencia Group’s Southeast Region, Dennis has been instrumental in the acquisition and disposition of numerous hotel and resort assets throughout the United States, serving mainly as a selling agent on behalf of institutional and individual investors.
Dennis is well versed in the nuances and techniques involved in hotel and resort marketing, including auctions, sealed bids and traditional listings. Over the span of his 30-year-career, Dennis has sold nearly $2 billion in investment-grade assets. His all-star client list includes Host Hotels & Resorts, FelCor Lodging Trust, Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, CWCapital Asset Management and Taylor Woodrow Communities.
“In order to be in this business, you have to have a hospitable attitude,” Dennis says. “I’ve worked in retail and office real estate and I’ve got to say that the people in the hotel industry are the nicest and most accommodating.”
A graduate of San Francisco State University, the California native enjoys working for a close-knit family business, where he says, “the lines of communication flow freely.” He lives in Carrollwood with his wife of 20 years, and enjoys playing golf and jazz standards on his electric piano. Despite his home’s proximity to Tampa Bay, Dennis loathes being on the water, especially if the boat is small.
I’ve worked in retail and office real estate and I’ve got to say that the people in the hotel industry are the nicest and most accommodating.
Mr. Russ C. Valentine serves as the Senior Vice President of Midwest Region at The Plasencia Group Inc. Prior to joining The Plasencia Group, Mr. Valentine served as the Senior Vice President of Acquisitions of Boykin Lodging Company. Before that, he served as the Senior Vice President of Acquisitions of American General Hospitality Corp. He has also worked with Laventhol & Horwath and Prime Financial Partnership.
Over the past 25 years, Mr. Valentine has gained experience in all aspects of lodging investments, including consulting, investment banking, and dispositions. Mr. Valentine received his Master of Business Administration degree from the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management at Michigan State University.
Tony Haddad has been active in the hospitality finance arena for the past three decades. Tony brings to the table years spent in hotel operations working as Director of Finance and as a regional executive responsible for a portfolio of hotels for Marriott International. Tony has extensive experience in domestic and international hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America.
After leaving Marriott, Tony formed his own asset management and consulting firm, Thames Associates, LLC.
In 2013, he became part of The Plasencia Group’s team. He holds a B.B.A. degree from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. A dedicated cyclist, he kicks off each workday with a group bike ride through suburban Broward County and also enjoys riding his motorcycle on the weekends.
You’re dealing with an industry that caters to happy people on vacation. It’s multifaceted and always changing. There’s creativity and design. You walk into something new, you learn about it, you opine about it and then move onto the next one.
Paul Williams got his start in hospitality the old fashioned way – by working as a front desk clerk at a 63-room motel in Bastrop, Louisiana. A natural people pleaser and self-described jack-of-all-trades, he juggled everything from waiting tables to making maintenance calls. It wasn’t long before the likeable concierge became a full-fledged innkeeper. At the age of 20, he was the Innkeeper of the Holiday Inn in Monroe, Louisiana.
Since then, Paul has scaled the corporate ladder, amassing 40 years of industry leadership at a bevy of high-profile hotel chains. Before joining The Plasencia Group in 2004, he held executive-level positions with Mariner Hotel Group, MHM Hotels, and ITT Sheraton, where he was responsible for overseeing the operation of 34 hotels and 7,000 rooms across the entire Southwest region.
After serving as an executive with Karena Hotels PLC of England, Paul worked in growth management and franchise development at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide before launching a career in hospitality real estate brokering at Sun Hospitality Advisors.
As Vice President of The Plasencia Group’s Southwest Region, Paul works from Dallas, Texas, supporting investment sales efforts in a market with which he is well acquainted. His time working on the ground floor of hotel operations, specifically in Texas, has given him an edge in sizing up his clients’ competition.
“I know the history in this part of the country,” Paul says. “I can analyze the market and look at competitors from an experience standpoint, instead of just in theory. Being an operator has given me insight that other people don’t have.”
Paul has been married for 40 years. He has two daughters and a precocious one-year-old granddaughter who lives near his home. A longtime hunter and avid fisherman, Paul loves to compete in bass fishing tournaments. He likens these angling competitions to landing business deals, in that your success is measured by the size of your catch.
I know the history in this part of the country. I can analyze the market and look at competitors from an experience standpoint, instead of just in theory. Being an operator has given me insight that other people don’t have.
Nicholas Plasencia brings an analyst’s eye to The Plasencia Group. Hired in 2013 as the firm’s vice president, the Tampa native specializes in investment sales efforts in full-service, boutique and resort properties. He brings to the table three years of practical experience in the Investment Banking Department of Raymond James, a publicly traded financial services firm with more than 2.7 million clients.
During his time as a financial analyst with Raymond James, Nick focused on mergers and acquisitions, public offerings and private placements in the United States and abroad. Nick was integrally involved in several capital-raising assignments in the lodging sector, preferred and common stock offerings, M&A processes and company valuation assignments.
Nick is a graduate of Harvard University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. During his summers off, he worked in operations positions at properties with Marriott International and Quorum Hotels and Resorts, experiences he says helped give him a valuable glimpse into the human element of hotel management.
A self-described “health foodie,” Nick is a novice runner who credits his outdoorsy wife, Emily, whom he met at Harvard, for whipping him into shape. Despite his love of Cuban sandwiches from local restaurants, Nick packs crunchy wholesome lunches from home. You can usually find him at his desk, hidden behind a towering stack of empty Tupperware.
Joe Corcoran never agonized over his career path. Hotels were a natural fit. At 18, he got a job working in the lobby of an Embassy Suites in Dallas, Texas, and from there he moved onto sales, which suited his outgoing personality, competitive drive and entrepreneurial spirit.
A graduate of Chapman University, Joe studied Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Business Administration as an undergraduate. More recently, Joe earned his MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University (SMU).
He began his career as a senior loan officer with Synergy Capital Mortgage Corporation, before serving three years at InterContinental Hotels Group as a corporate sales manager. The native Texan upped his industry cred when he signed on as Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for Western International Hospitality. During his tenure, he directed the execution of sales plans for a sizeable portfolio of Marriott and Hilton-branded properties across several Southwestern and Midwestern states, handling a number of the hotel pre-openings.
Hired in 2012 by The Plasencia Group to bolster the firm’s footprint in the Southwest region, Joe focuses most of his energy on properties in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and New Orleans. Thanks to his early years working heavily in hotel sales and operations, Joe, who is based in Dallas, is a valuable asset to The Plasencia Group’s investment advisory team.
“I enjoy the process of building something, completing it and moving on,” Joe says. “Each individual asset has its own characteristics and quirks. It’s our job to explain why it’s unique and then execute the best results for our clients.”
When he’s not traveling between hotel properties or juggling high-stakes transactions, the married father-of-two can be seen zipping around on a jet ski at his family’s lake house in Cedar Creek, Texas.
I enjoy the process of building something, completing it and moving on. Each individual asset has its own characteristics and quirks. It’s our job to explain why it’s unique and then execute the best results for our clients.
Before joining The Plasencia Group in 2014, Tampa native Chris Plasencia was headed down a different kind of path. After graduating with a law degree from Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, Chris spent several years working as an attorney at Squire Patton Boggs, a global law firm with over 1,500 lawyers on its payroll. During his time with that firm, Chris gained significant experience in the negotiation and execution of a wide spectrum of commercial real estate transactions, including selling and financing hotel and resort properties across the country.
As Vice President of The Plasencia Group, Chris, who majored in history at Duke University and earned a Master’s degree in real estate from the University of Florida in addition to his J.D., focuses on the acquisition, disposition, financing and development of full-service hotels and resorts.
He has a secret stash of junk food in his desk drawer and an unwavering devotion to Duke basketball. When he’s not in the office you can find him spending time with his two-year-old daughter, Claire, and his wife, Katie, whom he’s known since kindergarten. He makes the second-best barbecue pulled pork in the office.
I’m going to be with this company for the next 20, 30 years. I’m not looking for quick victories. I’m interested in building long-term relationships.
of Marketing & Partnerships
On paper, Jodie Orozco describes herself as the consummate marketer. In real life, the fifth generation Floridian is much more than the company cheerleader. Hired in 2014 to bring her specific skill set to The Plasencia Group’s marketing efforts, Jodie – an enterprising big picture thinker and self-described overachiever – is in charge of marketing all facets of the firm.
A recovering financial services marketer, Jodie worked for five years at Raymond James, a publicly traded financial services firm, for which she served as a Product Manager in Client Communications. Most recently, she worked as a Senior Marketing Associate at McGladrey, a global accounting firm.
Her time in the financial services sector left her with a flair for campaign management, digital marketing and social media, not to mention a love/hate relationship with data of all kinds. “Marketing is both an art and a science” she opines, “it takes a balance of analysis and creativity to get the job done well.” As she likes to say, she’s most comfortable “marketing people and services, not Tide.”
Jodie graduated cum laude from the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and minors in Mass Communications and Packaging Sciences. She serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and for seven glorious months worked as the Executive Vice President of 1MAG, a feisty, but short-lived lifestyle publication covering Tampa Bay – her most unusual career detour to date.
Jodie lives on an inlet in St. Petersburg. She loves being on the water and working to an eclectic mix of music. If she had her druthers, she would take a 20-minute nap in the middle of every day and would wear flip flops in the office.
“I’m on a personal mission to avenge mediocrity,” Jodie says. “Good enough is not OK. I’m not a perfectionist for the sake of perfectionism. I simply have a passion for working hard at the things that inspire me.”
I’m on a personal mission to avenge mediocrity. Good enough is not OK. I’m not a perfectionist for the sake of perfectionism. I simply have a passion for working hard at the things that inspire me.
The youngest of three brothers, John joined The Plasencia Group in 2014. As the firm’s Senior Financial Analyst, he supports investment sales efforts from North Carolina, where his primary responsibilities include conducting feasibility studies and preparing offering materials and financial documents.
Prior to joining The Plasencia Group, John worked in the Development and Acquisitions Department at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a global hotel management company based in Northern Virginia. The company, which manages 460 properties worldwide, proved the ultimate training ground for an aspiring hotel advisor. During his time with Interstate, John facilitated the acquisition of other hotel management companies, in addition to the procurement of several hefty management contracts. Due to the enormity of Interstate’s portfolio, John was involved in a wide range of transactions, including an impressive number of overseas deals. As an analyst, he produced dozens of hotel valuation and feasibility reports.
“My brothers and I are all pretty understated and reserved,” John says. “My job at Interstate forced me to break out of that reserved shell. I became better at relating to clients.”
John graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Communications. He is a former college football player, a loyal patron of Tampa’s Aguila Sandwich Shop and is known around the office for pairing conservative business suits with colorful socks. He lives outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife, Ariel, a broadcast journalist.
My brothers and I are all pretty understated and reserved. My job at Interstate forced me to break out of that reserved shell. I became better at relating to clients.
Connor Burke came to The Plasencia Group in 2016 after having worked at DevStar Group as a financial analyst. At DevStar, Connor was involved in the development of the Marina Palms Yacht Club and Residences in North Miami Beach, Florida. Having worked with banks, construction companies, marketing firms, city agencies, brokers, and all of the facets of the development process, Connor knows what it takes to turn an idea into reality.
“I enjoy challenging new projects. There are not any two engagements that are the same.” says Connor. “I seek out the challenge of working with what is given to me, and coming up with the best solution.”
Connor received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame with a major in Finance. When he isn’t working, Connor enjoys spending time with his fiancé, Adriana. Connor is an avid sailor, and loves deep sea fishing. Connor’s perfect day would be with Adriana sailing Tampa Bay to a steady breeze.
I enjoy challenging new projects. There are not any two engagements that are the same.
It didn’t take Callie Brakefield long to become indispensable at The Plasencia Group. Hired in January 2015, Callie quickly earned a reputation for being hyper efficient, detail-orientated and cool under pressure. As the firm’s Executive Assistant, Callie serves as CEO Lou Plasencia’s right hand. A natural planner, she effortlessly manages the executive’s meetings, travel schedule and community engagements.
Prior to joining The Plasencia Group, Callie served as an Executive Assistant at MCNA Dental, a Fort Lauderdale-based dental benefits administrator. At MCNA, Callie provided daily support to C-level management, coordinated and maintained complex schedules, and managed travel arrangements. She also acted as the point of contact for internal departments and outside clients, managed corporate records and created spreadsheets for board meetings.
A Florida native, Callie began her career in her early 20s at the office of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. It was there that she worked for State Senator Bill Montford (then Superintendent of Leon County Schools). The experience provided a crash course in state politics and an introduction to former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who attended one of the superintendent meetings.
Despite studying hospitality management at Florida Atlantic University, The Plasencia Group is Callie’s first foray into the hotel industry. She lives in Valrico and on the weekends, moonlights as an event planner for family and friends. She is a lover of pilates, her mischievous cocker spaniel and her precocious niece and nephew.
I’m not easily frazzled or intimidated. I’m on the phone with CEOs at major investment firms on a daily basis and it just feels right.