Household Tragedy Launched Driftwood Capital Founder’s Resort Profession and US$3 Billion Enterprise

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Carlos Rodriguez Sr. was able to do something to fund his actual estate-focused hospitality profession past Costa Rica, even promoting his youngsters’s toys.

Rodriguez, founder, chairman and chief government of Driftwood Capital, did simply that to construct his first U.S. resort, a six-storey Vacation Inn close to the airport in Miami in 1996.

“We offered the whole lot to maneuver [to the United States] and get our first resort,” stated Rodriguez.

Since then, he has expanded Coral Gables, Florida-based Driftwood Capital right into a enterprise with 80 motels in america and greater than 3 billion U.S. {dollars} in hospitality belongings beneath administration. His traders come from 34 nations, with about half the capital from america.

Rodriguez’s actual property profession began after his stint as an funding banker on Wall Road was upended by the demise of his older brother Augusto. His father and brother had constructed the Aurola Vacation Inn in San José, Costa Rica, however his brother died in 1986, simply shortly after the resort opened.

So his father requested him to return residence after 18 months in New York so he might assist run the household enterprise.

“There was a Latin America debt disaster, and sadly, when he died, the resort was in bother,” stated the Driftwood Capital founder. “I used to be working in funding banking in my dream job. However my father requested, ‘Carlos, are you able to come and assist me?’ How do you say ‘no’ to your dad? You’ll be able to’t.”

He discovered the resort enterprise as rapidly as he might, even returning to the U.S. to take some programs at Cornell College. He operated that Vacation Inn for a decade and the resort enterprise grew on him.

“I did not benefit from the operations facet as a lot as actual property, structuring offers, buildings, motels,” Rodriguez stated. “I tailored the resort enterprise to my background.”

The household enterprise, together with the San José resort, continued to develop in Costa Rica with the acquisition of a second resort, however not as quick as Rodriguez needed. Rodriguez did not need to compete along with his household, so he moved stateside to Miami to begin his personal resort firm.

“I discovered it simpler to do enterprise within the States versus Latin America. It was simpler to lift the cash, borrow the cash and extra liquid to promote motels,” stated Rodriguez.

By way of the downturn in journey from 9/11 to partnering with Lehman Brothers, a relationship that nearly destroyed his firm through the monetary disaster, Rodriguez discovered how you can create a capital construction that did not go away him relying on one investor.

Ultimately, he created his first fund along with his son Carlos Jr. and David Buddemeyer, who had launched Driftwood Hospitality Administration with former Lehman Brothers executives.

Driftwood now has 4 divisions centered on acquisitions, growth, lending and the administration firm with about 110 workers, not counting the 5,000 employees on the resort degree.

As he seems to be again to that first resort in Miami, Rodriguez remembers being all the way down to his final US$500 earlier than he cashed his first US$10,000 dividend. He has discovered that each take a look at or setback in his profession has made him stronger.

“My mantra from day one” has been to “at all times maintain an excellent shut relationship together with your bankers,” he stated. “The opposite factor is to maintain your traders knowledgeable whether or not it’s good or unhealthy.”

Rodriguez stated if he does develop past america, Canada could be Driftwood Capital’s logical subsequent step as a result of each nations have a robust rule of regulation with extra liquid markets for acquisitions.

“I’ve been requested to go internationally, however to do it proper, you want an entire infrastructure, which is expensive,” he stated, including that might equate to a launch with about eight motels in a rustic like Canada.

Rodriguez stated mentoring is one in every of his objectives as a frontrunner, and that features his son Carlos Jr., who helped him discovered Driftwood Capital.

“If one thing occurred to me right now, Carlos might take over with out batting a watch,” stated Rodriquez, laughing that there isn’t any lingering anger over the offered toys.


Carlos Rodriguez Sr. | Founder, chairman and CEO of Driftwood Capital
Hometown: San José, Costa Rica
Present metropolis: Miami
Years in trade: 35
Training: Bachelor’s from Vanderbilt College; MBA from Duke College
Hobbies: Studying, biking, mountaineering, cinema, tennis, pickleball, pool volleyball, and card video games like gin, canasta and poker
Recommendation to these beginning out within the trade: “Talk. Say the reality and say it rapidly. Talk together with your bankers, traders, and employees. Inform them the nice and the unhealthy and at all times suggest options to the unhealthy. Be upfront and clear, it at all times pays in the long term.”

Everybody in business actual property needed to begin someplace. CoStar’s First Job column explores the place careers started.

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