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March 11-- Mar. 11--WATERFORD -- Waterford Hotel Group, the hotel-management company with corporate offices here, has merged with Waterton, a Chicago-based real estate investor and operator, adding eight hotels to a portfolio that now includes 41 properties in nine states.

"This is the biggest we've been at any one time," Len Wolman, Waterford's chairman and chief executive officer, said Thursday in a phone interview.

Waterford manages the Hyatt Place Mohegan Sun and the Microtel Inn & Suites, both on Norwich-New London Turnpike in Uncasville, as well as the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. An approved operator for such well-known hotel brands as Hilton, Marriott and Sheraton, its properties range from full- to select-service hotels and resorts to independent inns.

Wolman said Waterton is being absorbed into Waterford Hotel Group, which will be the name of the entity formed by the merger. Waterton has obtained a minority interest in Waterford Hotel Group, with Wolman and his brother, Mark, retaining a majority interest, Len Wolman said.

In its more than 30-year history, Waterford has operated more than 100 hotels in 23 states, with the number fluctuating amid changes in the hotels' ownership. Waterford has no ownership interest in any of the assets it operates, Wolman said.

"We now have properties up and down the East Coast, with a concentration in the Northeast," he said. "We're from Florida to as far north as Lake Placid in upstate New York."

The hotels the company manages have a total of 6,200 rooms.

Waterford's only non-hotel assets are the Connecticut Convention Center and the Robinson Center, a performing arts venue in Little Rock, Ark., where Waterford operates a DoubleTree Hilton hotel.

In the merger, Waterford added management of three hotels in Massachusetts -- the Courtyard Marriott in Marlborough, the DoubleTree Hilton in Westborough and the Sheraton Needham -- three in Ohio and two in Illinois.

"This acquisition creates a great platform for the future," Wolman said. "It provides our associates with opportunities for growth and gives us the ability to build bigger, better relationships with vendors. It gives us more buying power and additional resources to serve our existing properties and enables us to bring in more talent."

Waterford absorbed four people from Waterton's corporate headquarters and hired additional people, Wolman said.

The company transitioned to a new president in 2018, with Michael Heaton succeeding Robert Winchester, and now employs from 2,700 to 3,000 full- and part-time workers at its 41 properties and corporate offices.

Waterton, founded in 1995, has focused on managing properties on behalf of institutional investors, family offices and financial institutions. At the end of last year, it held about $4.9 billion in real estate assets.

"Our investment management expertise and Waterford's operational expertise represent a powerful combination, which is sure to be attractive to brokers, sellers and investors in the hotel space," David Schwartz, Waterton's co-founder, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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