American Liberty Hospitality Celebrates 50 Years in Business

Five decades – all in Westchase District

Westchase District is known for some of the big-name companies that make their home here, including Phillips 66, BMC Software, Chevron, National Oilwell Varco and Apache. Some of the biggest names in the hospitality business – Hilton, Staybridge, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree and The Sam Houston Hotel – all reside here too, under the umbrella of American Liberty Hospital, which owns, operates and develops hotels in Texas and Louisiana.

With offices at 2901 Wilcrest, American Liberty is celebrating five decades in business, all of which have been in Westchase District

Nick Massad, Jr., the company’s President and CEO joined American Liberty in 1973, his first job after graduating from the University of Houston’s Conrad Hilton College. He joined ALH and was assigned to be part of the management team of a hotel in Dallas.

Vicki Massad joined the company a few months later and they married in 1975. “When you’re working round the clock, you usually end up with someone you work with,” Nick said with a twinkle in his eye.

The couple had the opportunity to buy the company in 1990. They’ve relocated the corporate office three times, each time staying in Westchase District. Over the years, they’ve added more hotels to the company’s portfolio and all three children – Nick III, Margo and Taylor – graduated from U of H with degrees in hospitality and joined the family business.

Today, American Liberty Hospitality owns 15 hotels – including nine in Houston, two in Galveston, one in Austin and three in Louisiana. The company owns the Baymont by Wyndham in Westchase District. “We are a hotel operation and builder,” Nick explained. “We develop, own and operate hotels under different flags. Our biggest affiliation is with Hilton.”

Industry leader

American Liberty is one of the pioneers in dual-branded hotels. They have a Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites hybrid hotel in downtown Houston. “It’s one hotel with two room types,” explained daughter Taylor Tritt, who is project manager for America Liberty. “They’re non-competing brands. One will have regular rooms, while the other is an extended stay brand with a full kitchen. The dual brand works really well on a site where the ground is more expensive. Guests don’t really know they’re checking into a dual-brand hotel until they arrive and see the two brands behind the single check-in desk.”

American Liberty survived the pandemic and the associated travel stoppage. Nick said the 1982 economic crash in Houston was like a slow cancer that was painful to endure for the ten years that it lasted. But that was nothing compared to COVID, which felt like a heart attack, when travel dried up overnight.

“Travel has rebounded quickly post-COVID,” said Nick. “By next year, we’ll be back to 2019 levels.”

“We learned a lot during that time and our industry is much improved,” said Nick. “I’m proud that we didn’t lay off any hotel managers. They had to operate efficiently and wear many hats, but they kept their jobs. My children gained ten years of experience in those three years. They worked with banks, negotiated loan modifications and more, but we didn’t lose a single property and we didn’t close a single property during the pandemic.”

Bullish on west Houston

As business travel improves, Nick believes the hotel market in Westchase District and all of West Houston is in for some really good years. “I like what I’m seeing in the area of energy transition,” said Nick. “The companies that are already located here are going to be leading the way.”

He notes that Houston has historically been a business travel market. Hotels would be full mid-week and empty on the weekends. But Nick observes that has flipped now. “People have discovered Houston as a tourist destination. Now we’re busy on the weekend. Our leisure business has improved because people want to get out of the house.”

Hospitality is in their roots

Vicki Massad’s grandparents owned a motel in Waxahachie and she furthered her hospitality experience working in the café on the town square. She says she has the “heart of an innkeeper.” That phrase likely describes all members of the Massad family.  Taylor notes that people who get out of the hospitality industry usually miss it and return. “It’s a wholesome business. We like caring for people,” she said.

With 50 years under their belts at American Liberty, Nick and Vicki have no plans to retire, but they’re turning over more of the responsibility to the next generation. “We’ll be in the office less and enjoy less responsibility,” said Vicki. “We’ll pick and choose what we want to do.”

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