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Hotels 2016: Law and Practice

Speaker(s): Andrew A. Lance, Cecilia T. Gordon, Charles L. Menges, Christofer C. Fattey, Constantine Korologos, Daniel Lesser, EJ Park, Jennifer A. Dakin, John Hamilton, Kimberly A. Wachen, Marc Dober, Michelle S. Russo, Steven L. Wilner, Tara K. Gorman, Thayer Thompson, Todd J. Fieldston, Tracey A. Leitman
Recorded on: Nov. 28, 2016
PLI Program #: 149128

Andrew A. Lance is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Real Estate Practice Group.  He is resident in the New York office, where he is also Co-Partner in Charge of the office.  Mr. Lance’s clients include private real estate equity funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, corporate and individual developers and owners, mortgage and mezzanine lenders, REITs and other public and privately held companies investing in or using real estate.  Mr. Lance also represents many not-for-profit organizations, particularly those building charter schools and involved in the performing arts.  His practice includes acquisitions, sales, leasing and financing of office, retail, hotel, industrial, recreational, professional sports and entertainment real estate, origination of mortgage and mezzanine loans and construction loans, real estate joint ventures and other ownership structures, master leases, sale-leasebacks and ground leases, and private and public-private ground leased and fee-owned development projects, as well as restructuring of complex debt structures and of equity interests in development ventures, and enforcement of remedies and realization on collateral by lenders in such projects.

As Head of the Firm's Hotel and Hospitality Practice, Mr. Lance leads the firm's representation of clients in some of the most visible and challenging hotel, resort and branded luxury residence transactions globally.  Mr. Lance's practice includes representation of management companies ranging from start-up boutique brand operators to the world' largest managers, and of real estate private equity, sovereign wealth, institutional and high net worth individual developers and owners of hotels and resorts globally in asset and joint venture transactions, including ground-up construction and branded residences.  Mr. Lance also represents lenders in origination and restructuring of complex mortgage, mezzanine and debt structures, including in particular expertise with cash management and anti-money laundering practices.

Mr. Lance is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and a fellow of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, is ranked by Chambers as a leading real estate lawyer, and has been an Adjunct Professor at New York Law School since 1985, teaching Commercial Real Estate Leasing and Land Transfer and Finance, a Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School, and a lecturer at the New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate teaching Real Estate Finance and Investment Analysis. He also is a lecturer at programs of the Practicing Law Institute, the New York State Bar Association, the International Council of Shopping Centers, and IMN Conferences.  Mr. Lance earned his J.D. in 1983 from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the Yale Law Journal. He earned a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in 1980 from Princeton University and attended the University of Paris.

Daniel H. Lesser, President & CEO of LW Hospitality Advisors has 35 years of experience specialized in real estate appraisals, economic feasibility evaluations, investment counseling and transactional services of hotels, resorts, conference centers, casinos, mixed use facilities, spa & wellness, and timeshare/fractional ownership properties on a worldwide basis.  Mr. Lesser provides services to corporate, institutional, and individual clients and municipalities on all facets of hospitality real estate including: litigation support and expert testimony, site evaluation, highest and best use analysis, appraisals for mortgage, acquisition, and portfolio management, workout strategies, operational analysis, property tax assessment appeal evaluations, economic impact studies, market and feasibility analysis, asset management, strategic planning, management company selection and contract negotiation, franchise company selection and license agreement negotiation, deal structuring and fairness opinions.  As a leading international authority with iron clad credibility on the topic of hotel feasibility and property valuation, Mr. Lesser has testified as an expert witness in federal and state courts and arbitrations in connection with a wide variety of matters including: bankruptcy, brand area of protection, condemnation, construction defect and/or delay damages, ground rent reset, partnership conflict, and property tax. 

Prior to his hospitality advisory experience, Mr. Lesser held operational and administrative positions with Hilton Hotels Corporation and Eurotels-Switzerland.  He is highly sought after to speak at lodging and real estate events, as well as lectures at prestigious institutions of higher education, including American University Washington College of Law, Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University and Pennsylvania State University. He is widely published and quoted in major newspaper, internet, business, real estate and hospitality industry publications, and has served as a quarterly columnist for and  Mr. Lesser is currently the quarterly lodging columnist for and a bi-monthly blogger for

Mr. Lesser earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University, and also attended the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland and Baruch College- City University of New York. Mr. Lesser holds the following professional designations: MAI (Member of the Appraisal Institute), FRICS (Fellow of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), CRE (Counselor of Real Estate), and CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator).

Mr. Lesser is a member of and has served on numerous committees for the Counselors of Real Estate, the Appraisal Institute, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Board of Directors of the New York City Chapter of the Cornell Hotel Society.  He is a former Advisory Board member and member of the Fundraising Subcommittee for the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.  Mr. Lesser is a member of The Penn State School of Hospitality Management Industry Advisory Board and served as the schools Fall 2015 Walter J. Conti Visiting Professor. Mr. Lesser is a founding member of the Lodging Industry Investment Council (LIIC), the hotel industry “think tank.”  Mr. Lesser is a member of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) Panel of Neutrals.

Kimberly Wachen is the chair of Arent Fox’s Hospitality Industry Group.  She handles a wide variety of real estate, financing and corporate transactions for hospitality clients, locally and nationally.  Her experience includes both portfolio and single-asset transactions in connection with the acquisition and sale of properties and loans secured by properties and/or the equity interests in their owners. Kimberly has closed transactions for real estate properties in over 35 states.

Notably, she has represented Marriott, Capstone Development (hotel owner), Revolution (hotel owner), Legacy Hotel Group (hotel owner), the Salvation Army (hotel owner) and both borrowers and lenders on hospitality matters.  Kimberly has been recognized as one of the top real estate lawyers in the country by Chambers USA, Legal 500, Super Lawyers, The National Law Journal, and Real Estate Forum.  She has also been recognized as the “Leading Real Estate Lawyer” in Washington, DC by Legal Times.  Kimberly is a frequent speaker on hospitality and real estate topics for organizations including Georgetown Law School (Georgetown Hotel and Lodging Legal Summit), American University Law School (Hospitality and Tourism Law Summer Program), NYU Hospitality Conference, and Bisnow.

Kimberly received her JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and her AB from Duke University. A Certified Public Accountant, she is a member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).

Practice Areas

Real Estate
Real Estate Finance and Capital Markets
CMBS Loan Origination

Tracey A. Leitman
has significant experience and a national practice in real estate finance and development. She focuses on real estate finance transactions and has structured and closed loans for retention by lenders and also loans to be securitized in numerous large-scale deals. She has handled all aspects of multi-state and large-portfolio lending transactions, including mezzanine, bridge, and construction loans.

Ms. Leitman’s experience also includes the conveyance, construction, management, and leasing of highly sophisticated and complex commercial, retail, and residential projects, including shopping centers and hotels. She has practiced in the New York metropolitan areas for almost 30 years.

Professional Activities

American Bar Association: Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section

Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Real Property Law Committee

New York State Bar Association, Real Property Law Committee


Yeshiva University, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (J.D. 1984)

University of Florida (B.A. 1981)


New York

Steven L. Wilner is a partner in Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s New York office. Steven’s practice focuses on financial, corporate and real estate matters, ranging from global real estate acquisitions, dispositions, development and finance to international mergers and acquisitions and restructurings, including private equity investments and joint ventures.

Steven has been recognized by numerous guides and publications as a leading practitioner in global Real Estate law, including Chambers Global, Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and The Best Lawyers in America. Steven was named a “Most Valuable Practitioner” in Real Estate by Law360, and was recently inducted into the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.

Steven is a frequent speaker on all aspects of Real Estate transactions and law, and participates in PLI’s ongoing “Bridge-the-Gap” series, which aims to teach young attorneys the essential skills for success in the business and practice of law.

Steven joined the firm in 1988 and became a partner in 1997. He spent 2001­2005 as the managing partner of the firm’s former Tokyo office.

Chris is a versatile business lawyer with significant experience in commercial lending, project finance, real estate, and construction matters. In the finance area, he represents lenders and borrowers in asset-based, mortgage-based, floor-plan, bond, construction, cross-border, and acquisition transactions. Chris also works closely with the Bankruptcy, Restructuring & Commercial Litigation Practice in loan work-outs and insolvency matters. In the real estate area, Chris represents clients in purchasing, selling, developing, and leasing of commercial properties. He also has extensive experience with real estate transfer tax and mortgage tax issues. In the construction area, Chris represents owners and contractors throughout the construction process, from planning to completion.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Chris worked for a Massachusetts construction firm, assisting with project planning and contract negotiations. Chris was also a minor-league professional ice hockey player.

Professional Associations

  • Bar Association of Erie County

Community & Pro Bono

  • President, Hasek's Heroes board of directors 


New York


B.A., College of the Holy Cross

J.D., magna cum laude, SUNY Buffalo Law School

EJ is a Vice President/ Senior Credit Officer for Moody’s Investors Service.  She joined the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) group in 1998, and has rated new issuance transactions in the US and in Japan.  She currently heads up the Large Loan Team in Surveillance, and has authored special comments on hotel-specific topics.  Prior to joining Moody’s, EJ worked for Arthur Andersen Hospitality Consulting Group in New York City, and she also has international hotel operation experience.

EJ has a BA from Ewha Womens University, and a Master of Management in Hospitality from the Hotel School, Cornell University.

Thayer is responsible for legal matters and assisting with strategic and commercial transactions.

From 2008 to 2015, he was the Assistant General Counsel at Virgin Management USA, Inc., the corporate development and investment management division of the Virgin Group. Thayer has served as the acting general counsel of Virgin Hotels since its 2010 inception. Before Virgin Management, he was a senior associate in the Corporate Department of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC and an associate in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Thayer is a graduate of Duke University (BA, 1996), where he was a member of the Duke University Swim Team, and the University of Minnesota Law School (JD, magna cum laude, 1999).

Charles L. Menges is a partner in the Richmond, Virginia office of McGuireWoods LLP.  He counsels clients on business transactions, primarily in the real estate industry and in the banking and finance sector. He has extensive experience in representing real estate investment trusts (REITs), in forming and representing joint ventures and other types of entities in the real estate industry, and in handling large portfolio transactions. In the hospitality and resorts industry, Mr. Menges represents owners, developers and management companies in connection with purchase and sale agreements, management agreements and franchise agreements, and he represents both institutional lenders and borrowers in financings for hotels.  He also advises hotels, private resort clubs and other hospitality clients on meeting contracts, vendor relationships, membership issues and other matters.  Mr. Menges chairs the Hotels, Resorts and Hospitality Industry Committee of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.  He also chairs the Committee on Legal Opinions in Real Estate Transactions of the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Section.  Mr. Menges received his undergraduate degree from the College of William and May and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Constantine "Tino" Korologos is a Managing Director of BRG Real Estate Advisors, BRG Capital Advisors, LLC and BRG Capital Markets Services, LLC. Mr. Korologos has over 32 years of experience in commercial and residential real estate. He has been involved in the diligence, valuation, asset management, structuring, rating and sale of over $100B of commercial real estate equity and structured debt products.

Mr. Korologos has held senior credit and underwriting roles with several top investment banks and finance companies. Prior to joining BRG, Mr. Korologos held senior positions with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services as a Managing Director in their Real Estate Advisory Practice, Managing Director with Wachovia Securities in their Real Estate Capital Markets Group, and Managing Director and Principal with Bear, Stearns & Co. in their Commercial Real Estate Finance Group. He was also a Senior Ratings Analyst with Moody’s Investors Service in their CMBS Group and the Chief Appraiser and Asset Manager for Equitable Real Estate Investment Management’s New York Regional Office. He has advised money center banks, private equity firms, and REIT’s and investment banks on institutional investments across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Some significant hospitality transactions have included financings for Extended Stay Hotels, Homestead Suites, La Quinta, In-Towne Suites, Equity Inns, Wyndham, Columbia Sussex, Boca Resorts, Luxury Resorts & Hotels and Sunstone.

Additionally, Mr. Korologos has served as an expert in real estate valuation and securities matters. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and has been an adjunct professor with New York University's Real Estate Master's Degree faculty for over 20 years. He is an instructor for the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC), teaching CMBS 101, and an approved instructor for the Appraisal Institute.

Mr. Korologos is eligible in New York State (New York, Kings, Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Bronx Counties) to serve as a Receiver (FID # 758786).

Education and Affiliations
Mr. Korologos has a BBA in Finance from Baruch College, City University of New York and an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business. Mr. Korologos is INRA Registered under Series 7 and 63. Additionally, he holds the CRE designation with the Counselors of Real Estate, the MAI designation with the Appraisal Institute and the MRICS designation with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Harvard University, B.A., 1997, magna cum laude New York University School of Law, J.D., 2000

Hotel and recreational acquisition, management and financing, as well as joint ventures representing institutions and foreign investors, and construction-related matters are top of mind when clients contact Cecilia Gordon. A Director in the Real Estate group and Co-Chair of the firm's Hospitality & Recreation industry group, Cecilia has a broad-based practice representing real estate owners and operators.

Representative Experience

  • Representation of John Hancock Life Insurance Company on the sale of the John Hancock Conference Center and Hotel.
  • Representation of Pyramid Hotel Group in connection with proposed public offering of Pyramid Hotels & Resorts, Inc.
  • Representation of CrossHarbor Capital Partners LLC in resort management and development agreements for the reorganized Yellowstone Club in Montana.
  • Representation of institutional and family-owned hotel owners in connection with hotel franchise agreements with Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, IHG and Radisson throughout the U.S.
  • Representation of Pyramid Hotel Opportunity Venture in the acquisition of an 8-hotel portfolio from Thayer Lodging Group and the acquisition of a 5-hotel portfolio from CNL, and related hotel management agreements and franchise agreements.
  • Representation of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in connection with hotel management agreement for the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel, Boston.
  • Representation of Manulife Financial in a joint venture to develop an office building in Georgia.
  • Representation of a Netherlands-based independent real estate company in joint ventures for real estate developments in Atlanta, North Carolina and Boston.
  • Representation of a hotel management company and a retail developer in construction contracts and related agreements.
  • Representation of John Hancock Financial Services on the sale of the Hancock Tower and related buildings to Beacon Capital Partners and the subsequent purchase of the Brown and Berkeley Buildings.

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Member, International Society of Hospitality Consultants

Awards and Recognition

  • "America's Leading Business Lawyers," Chambers USA 2015-2016
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2006 - 2007

Jennifer A. Dakin is a Senior Vice President and Team Leader in Wells Fargo Bank’s Hospitality Finance Group in Washington, D.C. She has 19 years of lending experience in all property types of commercial real estate and has spent the past eleven years primarily in the lodging space. 

Ms. Dakin started her banking career at KeyBank National Association in 1997 and subsequently worked in various lines of business at KeyBank, including mezzanine finance, structured finance and loan sales and syndication. In 2002, she moved to Washington, D.C. to join the KeyBank Institutional Real Estate Finance Group where she provided financing to REITS, opportunity funds and large private real estate companies in Washington, Philadelphia and New York. 

In 2004, Ms. Dakin joined the Wells Fargo Bank Real Estate Banking Group where she was a commercial lender marketing all product types (office, industrial, retail, multi-family and hotels) and concentrated on customers in the greater Washington D.C. area.  In 2008, Ms. Dakin co-founded Wells Fargo’s Hospitality Finance Group. Her current customer base includes opportunity funds and large private real estate companies that are headquartered on the East Coast, United States as well as Canada.

Ms. Dakin was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and currently resides in Washington, D.C. Ms. Dakin received her B.A. in Economics in 1997 from Trinity College and an M.B.A., with a concentration in Finance and International Management, in 2001 from Case Western Reserve University.

Michelle S. Russo, CHAM, MAI, CHA, has more than 30 years of practical, hands-on experience with hotels, restaurants, resorts, convention centers, real estate, and finance. She has worked on thousands of hotel assets across the United States and in 2003, founded Hotel Asset Value Enhancement. While Russo oversees the practice, she is very involved in strategic asset positioning, management contract negotiations, and interacting with senior-level brand and management executives on behalf of the portfolio. Ms. Russo has been named one of the 30 Influential Women in Hospitality by Hotel Management Magazine (October 2017) and one of 20 Women in Lodging by Lodging Magazine (September 2015).

Prior to founding hotel AVE, Russo was vice president, senior leisure analyst for Deutsche Banc Alex Brown where she also garnered capital markets experience. Her experience on Wall Street forced her to be very forward-focused. Russo also managed a $500 million portfolio for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company where she improved the portfolio and achieved 20 percent cash-on-cash returns. She is well-known for initiating the legal action taken in the 2660 Woodley Road case in which Hancock was originally awarded $52 million. In addition, Russo was responsible for changing the property’s management and overseeing a $100 million repositioning renovation of the 1,500-room convention hotel.

Ms. Russo is a regular guest lecturer at Cornell University and has appeared on CNBC and CNN to provide commentary on the hospitality and leisure industry. She was recently published in both Hotel News Now and Hotel Business and has been invited as a speaker at numerous industry conferences such as New York University, Urban Land Institute, Boston University, Distressed Hotel Summit, and Hunter Hotel Conference. Ms. Russo serves on the dean’s advisory board for Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. She is also a member of ULI’s hotel council, Marriott’s distribution strategy advisory committee, the AHLA’s financial management committee, formerly on the Morgans board of directors, SC Johnson School and the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship advisory board at Cornell University.

Russo earned a Bachelor of Science from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

Tara K. Gorman is a Partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie and focuses her practice on hospitality law. In addition to practicing law, Tara is the Vice-Chair of the Timesharing and Interval Use Committee, of the Hospitality Group of the Real Property and Probate Section of the American Bar Association, writes a column for Hotel Business Review, is a Professor in Residence (Adjunct) at the Washington College of Law of American University in Washington, D.C., as part of the Hospitality and Tourism Law Program, and at the University of Maryland where she teaches Hospitality Law at the University of Maryland. Ms. Gorman has taught Foundations of Real Estate Law at Georgetown University as an Adjunct Professor, and regularly speaks at conferences and seminars on real estate and hospitality topics, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Georgetown Law Center’s Hotel & Lodging Legal Summit and the Board of Advisors of Drexel University Center for Hospitality & Sports Management. Tara is also a contributing writer to the textbook Hotel Law – Transactions, Management and Franchising.  

Tara focuses her law practice on hotel acquisitions, operations, development and finance, hotel management agreements, license and branding agreements, restaurant management agreements, and general commercial real estate transactions, including commercial real estate acquisitions and sales, and data center, office and retail leasing. 

Tara regularly prepares and counsels clients both domestically and internationally regarding hotel acquisitions, financing, operations development and finance, condo-hotels, hotel management agreements, license and branding agreements, restaurant management agreements, water park and casino agreements, real estate finance documents, purchase and sale agreements, property management agreements, corporate formation, business improvement districts, vendor agreements, marketing management agreements, web-site service agreements, telecommunications license agreements, and commercial office leases. Ms. Gorman has represented institutional investors such as life insurance companies and pension funds in connection with their real estate investments, as well as governmental and quasi-governmental agencies with respect to their real estate holdings.