CRE Midwest

Bob Habeeb: Staying true to his values

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Robert Habeeb

While Bob Habeeb was in college, he took a job in a bar and restaurant. Ultimately, Habeeb fell in love with it, and worked his way up in the industry. Now, with over 25 years of experience in hospitality and commercial real estate, there isn’t much of the industry Habeeb hasn’t touched at some point.

While Bob Habeeb was in college, he took a job in a bar and restaurant. Ultimately, Habeeb fell in love with it, and worked his way up in the industry. Now, with over 25 years of experience in hospitality and commercial real estate, there isn’t much of the industry Habeeb hasn’t touched at some point.

“The industry has its highs and lows, but I really love the challenge of it all,” said Habeeb, president of First Hospitality Group (FHG). “The number of hotels owned and managed by FHG keeps growing every year, and it’s exciting to work with our talented and hard-working team. I wake up every day knowing we are making a huge impact in the industry in terms of high guest satisfaction, incorporating state of the art technology, and innovative hotel design.”

In 2015, Habeeb expects the pace of CRE transactions will continue to be robust. “Credit is again readily available, and most believe that there is still plenty of upside before the peak. I am a little more cautious. The peak might only be a year or two away, not the four that some believe.”

According to Habeeb, FHG’s approach to hotel management and development is to focus on their people, which is what sets them apart from other companies. “We offer extensive training and development opportunities, recognize performance, encourage community activism and empower our associates to make decisions that positively impact guests’ experiences.”

“In 2014 we continued to expand our profile nationally, but within Illinois we opened the Hyatt Place Champaign Urbana, took over management of the boutique Drake Oakbrook hotel, and added the adjoining Marriott Pere Marquette and Courtyard by Marriott Peoria Downtown to our portfolio. We are now working on the development of a 156-room Hotel Indigo near Millennium Park."

Habeeb noted that resolutions can be limiting, but with the New Year underway, he has resolved to do a few things. “I have intentions to cook healthier at home and develop new restaurants.”

When Habeeb isn’t working, he can be found doing a number of things—including escaping on his Harley for a few hours to relax. “I also enjoy exploring Chicago’s culinary scene, traveling, cooking, and spending quality time with my family.”

There are also a few things that Habeeb has on his "to do list" as well, the first is to dance on stage with the Black Keys! “I also want to travel the world extensively, particularly the Middle East. Do something that makes the world a better place. Move to Italy for a couple of months, and live in a villa on the Tuscany coast. Where does it end?”

His favorite song at the moment? “I am hooked on Sting's Broadway Play score from "The Last Ship" which unfortunately is ending.”

An interesting fact about Habeeb? “I've been an Adjunct Professor at the Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality Management at Roosevelt University in Chicago for the last 16 years,” he said. “I emphasize that by staying true to their values, and creating an environment where people have a say, these young leaders can progress quickly in the dynamic hospitality industry.”