The FORT Podcast: T. Dupree Scovell – CIO @ Woodbine Development Corp. – World Class Hotel & Hospitality Properties

Dupree Scovell is the managing partner and chief investment officer at Woodbine Development Corporation, a full-service real estate company that specializes in hospitality. He got his start in the hotel business at the age of 16, working as a dishwasher at Hyatt Regency Dallas. In 2011, Dupree joined Woodbine and expanded its footprint with the opening of a West Coast office in Los Angeles before returning to Dallas in 2019. Currently, he and his brother, King, work together as managing partners to lead the team, cast vision, and provide strategic direction for the company. Dupree is also responsible for Woodbine’s acquisition platform and capital markets efforts, as well as overseeing Woodbine Legacy Investments, a private equity fund dedicated to the acquisition and development of upscale select-service and full-service branded and boutique hotels throughout the United States.

On this episode Chris & Dupree discuss:

➡️ the impact of our fathers and great mentors on both of us

➡️ Woodbine’s Story and history

➡️ how Woodbine invests and creates world-class experiences

➡️ current market insights

Listen on:
Apple Podcasts


(00:03:05) Dupree’s Background and Career

(00:06:11) Lessons learned playing for Mike Leach

(00:10:20) The role apprenticeship plays in the success

(00:13:12) Fatherhood Lessons

(00:31:50) Buying a business from your father

(00:36:16) Woodbine and the Hunt Family

(00:40:11) Experiences raising from Family Offices

(00:49:38) Woodbine’s Approach to Hospitality

(01:01:15) Setting prices and booking practices

(01:05:40) Thinking differently about Hospitality

(01:12:33) Thoughts on Office

(01:17:29) Full-Service operations & Food and Beverage

(01:21:44) How do STRs play into the whole picture?

(01:33:34) Thoughts on the market

(01:26:53) Closing advice


Episode Summary

In the intriguing realm of the hospitality industry, Dupree Scovell, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Woodbine Development Corporation, shares his insightful perspective on the potential for growth and transformation within this vibrant sector.

Scovell commences by emphasizing the unique opportunities the hotel industry presents. In his view, it’s a sector that genuinely embodies the American Dream. Highlighting a compelling example, he suggests that even a high school graduate can start their career in a low-level position, such as a bellman, and ascend the ladder to become a general manager. In this sense, the industry is a dynamic platform for social mobility, offering a promising trajectory for those willing to work hard and seize opportunities.

The strategic orientation of Woodbine Development Corporation, as Scovell explains, is primarily focused on the development and acquisition of a broad array of hospitality assets. Their portfolio spans from resorts to select service hotels, demonstrating a significant commitment to the hospitality industry. However, their interests are not limited to this sector alone. They also venture into other asset classes, including office spaces, industrial sites, and multi-family properties, thereby ensuring a diversified portfolio.

Interestingly, Scovell perceives a promising intersection between hospitality and office spaces. He advocates for infusing elements of hospitality into office environments to enhance the overall experience for employees and visitors. The goal is to transpose the welcoming, engaging atmosphere characteristic of hotels into the corporate world. This, Scovell believes, could revolutionize how we perceive and interact within office spaces.

Integral to this vision is the notion of personal touch. Like in hotels, creating a sense of belonging and care is critical in office spaces. The objective is to establish an environment where everyone feels recognized and valued, elevating the employee and visitor experience to unprecedented levels.

Scovell also addresses the increasing trend of incorporating restaurants and bars into hotels. This approach, while enhancing the guest experience by offering an all-inclusive environment, introduces complexity to hotel operations. These complexities primarily stem from the unpredictable nature of food and beverage (F&B) services. Despite these challenges, the need for hotels to differentiate themselves and provide unique experiences is paramount in today’s competitive landscape.

The conversation wouldn’t be complete without addressing the challenges confronting the hotel industry, including the rise of short-term rentals and platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, not to mention the impacts of the global pandemic. Despite these challenges, Scovell sees a place for short-term rentals in the hospitality industry, provided they are regulated in the same manner as hotels. He also believes that business travelers tend to favor the predictability and comprehensive amenities offered by hotels.

In terms of the hotel industry’s performance amidst economic fluctuations, Scovell presents a balanced viewpoint. While top-line figures for hotels appear strong, rising labor costs and increasing interest rates are applying pressure on net operating income margins. This underscores the importance of strategic management in maintaining profitability.

Even with these challenges and headwinds, Scovell views the hotel business as a sector that is tough to compete in but offers unique advantages. One such advantage is the ability to adjust prices daily, providing a hedge against inflation.

Scovell concludes on an introspective note, reflecting on the importance of perseverance and faith in navigating the trials and tribulations of life. Drawing inspiration from a Bible verse, he underscores the importance of trusting in a higher power, rather than attempting to control all outcomes. This thoughtful reflection adds a personal and philosophical dimension to Scovell’s insightful exploration of the hotel industry’s opportunities and challenges.


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