The International Network of Hospitality Consulting Professionals

Cayuga’s consultants offer skilled guidance on planning and executing your properties’ capital expenditures.

Whether you are a hotel owner or manager considering a single property or an entire portfolio, Cayuga’s expert financial, facilities, procurement and logistics, and management consulting professionals can assist with all of your hospitality CapEx planning and implementation needs.

A good CapEx plan offers significant benefits to both owners and operators of hospitality assets:

  • Advance notice of property/portfolio capital funding needs
  • Coordination of property and portfolio investment cycle, acquisitions, and sales
  • Optimizing property market position and revenue potential
  • Optimizing property operational efficiency
  • Managing design, specification, procurement and delivery logistics
  • Lowering property risk (service disruption, equipment failure, life safety)
  • Harmonizing property stakeholder’s interests; owner, asset manager, operator
  • Optimizing CapEx project management and execution
  • Maximizing the return and minimizing the cost of CapEx
  • Audit of current CapEx plans and brand standards to improve performance and guest satisfaction
  • Review procurement practices and suppliers to optimize profitability

Find a CapEx Consultants that Specializes in the Following

PIP Evaluation Consulting Services

During the PIP assessment process many factors play a role in developing the plan, don’t risk being caught off guard with missed costly details. Our consultants can perform PIP (property improvement plan) evaluations along with property condition assessments that directly support the sales/acquisition process through property positioning and evaluation or development of purchase offers.

Property or Portfolio CapEx Planning

Preparing a detailed CapEx plan for a single property, or developing an integrated CapEx planning process for your whole portfolio, should always be considered in order to keep up with modern trends in the hospitality industry.

Cayuga’s consultants can quickly improve your property or organization’s CapEx planning by helping guide you through the complicated process.

Seven steps for CapEx Planning

1. Implement a Systems Based Continuous Process

2. Support your continuous process with standards that help bring consistency

3. Focus on Data Integrity and Design your system so that data resides in the appropriate system

4. Choose a system and process that provides transparency across linked systems

5. Look at the long-term view so the system captures all projects

6. Make sure the system supports the review and approval process required by the Ownership

7. The CapEx system and process should support portfolio-level planning by both the Management Company and Ownership 

CapEx Project Planning and Project Management

Our subject matter consultants can help you plan and execute large, high-profile, or complex CapEx projects; from restaurant renovations to complete property redevelopment projects. Many factors need to be considered and not overlooked. Find help with setting project scope, scheduling, budgeting, design, engineering, contracting, direct project supervision and more.

Deferred and Emergency CapEx

Our CapEx consultants can quickly step in to assist with emergency and deferred CapEx projects, supplementing your project staff, or delivering turn-key project management. No hotel manager or owner looks forward to a crisis, but life happens. If you need interim staffing to assist with your immediate and urgent needs, our hospitality consultants are here to help relieve the stress of being understaffed.

What exactly is CapEx?

It depends……. 

BusinessDictionary.com offers the following definition:

“An amount spent to acquire or upgrade productive assets (such as buildings, machinery, equipment, and vehicles) in order to increase the capacity or efficiency of a company for more than one accounting period. Also called capital spending.”

Hotel owners, operators, brands, and accountants all tend to have different perspectives on the definition of CapEx. Most definitions of hospitality CapEx are based on the tax law/accounting treatment of fixed assets. 

What does CapEx mean in accounting?

The accounting perspective is the most straightforward. Accountants must comply with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). They often must comply with the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry. Accountants are usually interested in adopting the easiest fixed-asset and tax accounting process.

What does CapEx mean for operators?

The operator’s perspective is slightly more complex. 

Typical management contracts include incentives for increasing revenues and operating profit. 

Any CapEx that raises revenue or reduces expenses is likely to be a financial benefit to the operator; regardless of the cost of the CapEx. 

For example, when an operator replaces (CapEx) a broken piece of equipment, rather than repairing it (operating expense), the “savings” go right to the profit line and potentially earn incentive compensation. 

In a similar fashion, an operator increases “profit” if they reduce maintenance costs (OpEx), even if that lack of maintenance reduces the useful life of the hotel’s equipment (CapEx). 

What does CapEx mean for Brands?

Brands are also in an interesting position regarding CapEx. 

Brands have a strong financial incentive to increase hotel revenue (they collect more franchise fees), but they do not take part in hotel capital costs. 

Brands require renovations and improvements to increase fee revenue at no cost to the brand. It is easy to require something if you don’t have to pay the bill! 

What does CapEx mean for Owners?

However, the hotel owner’s perspective is probably the least ambiguous, since they are the ones paying the CapEx bill. 

Here is the definition of a capital asset from a prominent Mid-Atlantic hospitality REIT:

A new physical asset with a normal service life of at least one year, a minimum unit cost of $500 (including taxes, freight, installation, and fees), and an aggregate cost of at least $1,000.” 

Owners are typically concerned with four major types of cash flow over the life of their hotel investment; 

  • Purchase price
  • Operating profit or loss
  • CapEx
  • Sales price

Owners want to minimize cash outflows and maximize cash inflows. 

Purchase price and CapEx are the only flows directly controlled by the owner, and it is almost always the owner’s practice to spend the least amount of money on CapEx possible.

It is critically important to Owners that they get the “highest and best use” out of each CapEx dollar. 

The owner’s definition is the only one that really matters, and for long-term success, operators, brands, and accountants should understand the owner’s definition of CapEx, and align their CapEx planning and execution with the owner’s objectives.
Of course, CapEx matters, particularly to hotel owners. 

Capital expenses are a material ongoing cost to all owners of hotel properties. According to the ISHC CapEx 2014 Study, capital expenses average over 7% of a hotel’s gross revenue, every year. 

There is variation in these percentages by property type, age, location, and ownership, but in every case, CapEx is a material expense to hotel owners. 

It is also a fact that most Hotel owners are perennially short of capital funds. Optimal use of capital is crucial to the long-term financial success of any hotel real estate investment. 

What’s important about CapEx?

Highest and best use of owner’s capital.

The highest and best use of owner’s capital is the most important objective of hospitality Capital Expenditure planning. 

However, this high-level objective doesn’t always help in developing specific strategies and tactics for capital investments. It is more useful to focus on some of the more specific planning objectives when building a good capital plan. 

Here is a short list of important CapEx planning objectives (in priority order) that will help achieve the highest and best use of owner’s capital:

  • Provide advance notice of property/portfolio capital funding needs
  • Plan both property-level and portfolio-level investment cycles, acquisitions, and sales
  • Optimize property market position and revenue potential 
  • Optimize property operational efficiency
  • Lower property risk (service disruption, equipment failure, life safety)
  • Harmonize property stakeholder’s interests; owner, asset manager, operator
  • Optimize CapEx project execution
  • Fiscal control
  • Low overhead costs: management time, administration, accounting
  • Best value/pricing for purchases, contractors, project management
  • Minimal disruption of service and operations
  • Maximize the return and minimize the cost of CapEx

Any CapEx planning process that does not satisfy these objectives will fail to meet the overall objective of “highest and best use of owner’s capital”. 

What should Owners and Operators do about CapEx? – Take action!

Hospitality asset owners and operators should take the following three steps to improve the CapEx planning for their properties. 

1. Communicate investment objectives 

Hotel owners need to understand their own portfolio and property objectives, clearly articulate those objectives and communicate those objectives to their asset managers and operators. 

Core assets have very different CapEx planning objectives than assets that may be held for only two or three years. 

Successful properties in strong markets will have different CapEx priorities than failing properties that are about to be sold. 

It doesn’t make sense to replace individual pieces of FF&E in a property that is being scheduled for a complete renovation, while it does make sense to replace FF&E in properties where renovations will be delayed. 

Communicate well, and asset managers and operators will be able to deliver CapEx plans that reflect the owner’s investment objectives. 

2. Require a high standard of CapEx planning 

Asset managers and operators charge a substantial fee for their services. Owners should demand that they earn their fee when it comes to CapEx planning. 

Good CapEx planning requires three important elements: 

2.1 Systematic process 

CapEx planning should be supported by computer software systems integrated with accounting, purchasing, maintenance, and asset management systems. 

A systems-supported approach makes it less expensive to maintain good data about the past, present, and future capital needs of the property and provides continuity through the management and personnel changes. 

2.2 Long-term perspective 

<A ten-year forward-looking CapEx plan will provide adequate advance notice of all of the property’s CapEx requirements. At a minimum, CapEx plans should include the owner’s remaining “hold” period for the asset if less than ten years. 

Long-term planning contributes significantly to both the completeness and the accuracy of the planning effort as scope and budget detail is added to projects as they become closer in time. 

2.3 Completeness 

The CapEx plan should include everything that the property will need to continue operating the business efficiently and effectively: PIPs, renovations, building exterior projects, building systems, major overhauls or upgrades to equipment or systems, Brand required upgrades, etc. 

The more inclusive the plan, the easier it is for ownership to make the larger property and portfolio investment decisions, and the less likely that ownership will be surprised by an unexpected funding need. 

Set a high standard, and don’t accept incomplete or poorly done CapEx plans. 

3. Make it a conversation 

Operators and asset managers are closest to the guest, most aware of their competitive set, and have the most specific knowledge of property conditions. 

They are also most aware of how guest satisfaction, market position, and property condition change during the year. Take advantage of this knowledge to inform CapEx planning. 

The planning effort will be more effective if it is part of daily operations rather than an annual “exercise”. 

Make CapEx a specific part of property operations reporting, even if major projects are being executed by third-party project managers.

Discuss CapEx project status and planning during every owner and asset manager meeting. 

Let these conversations drive adjustments to the CapEx plan during the year, and support better investment decisions at both the property and portfolio levels. 

Discuss CapEx regularly and often; keep it current!

Our Hotel Capital Planning Consultants

Scott Brown

With over 25 yrs blurring the lines between A/V, technology and creativity, Scott will provide solutions in the demanding Corporate & Social audio visual space, drive revenue, service and retention.

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Stephen Darling

Experience in planning and development consulting for owners and architects, Stephen's approach creates the road to profitability plus fresh shrewd insights for the future.

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Cara Federici

A luxury-lifestyle entrepreneur, brand creator and operator, Cara Federici's extensive design, digital marketing, web development, revenue strategy and sales expertise deliver proven methodologies to create and scale hospitality brands.

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Gary Henkin

WTS International specializes in providing both design consultancy and management services for spas, fitness/wellness centers and leisure facilities throughout the world.

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Andrew Huzyk

Delivering strategy, solutions, and value through technology and low voltage expertise; specializing in boutique and luxury new builds, renovations, and conversions.

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Walter O'Connell

Valuation and Cost Segregation Professional – Providing Accredited Real & Personal Property Valuations and Quality Tax Saving Cost Segregation Services to the Hospitality Industry.

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Timothy O'Mara

Food and beverage consultant specializing in Request for Proposal (RFP), master planning, proforma development, and operational consulting for Higher Ed and Employee Dining.

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Preston Rideout

I'm a Nightclub and Bar Consultant with 24 years of experience. Resorts, Hotels, Casinos, Restaurants, Nightclubs, and Bars retain my services because I am a Nightclub and Bar Expert

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Frank Schuetzendorf

Food & Beverage professional, focusing on operational design, service excellence and customer experience mapping. Senior Lecturer at Glion Institute of Higher Education + Essec Business School, Paris.

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Nicolas Simon

A very keen, detailed, comprehensive and result-driven business approach of hotel and restaurant operations, with only the best interests of our clients and industry in mind.

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Simon Turner

Hospitality management and investment executive with experience in litigation support/expert witness, buyer/investor/lender/developer advisory services, and asset management.

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