What has kept Edward Nystrom in hospitality for the majority of his career? The senior vice president of design, construction, and project management at Hospitality Project Advisors and Driftwood Hospitality Management always made it his primary objective to cater to his clients and provide services that satisfied their needs. The hospitality industry was an obvious choice for him.
“I have always been very concerned about my clients’ needs and do whatever it takes to provide services to satisfy the client while building a successful project,” Nystrom says. “When I started doing hospitality projects as a contractor, I quickly realized that hotels do whatever it takes to satisfy the guests, so I felt like we were very much aligned.”
Driftwood’s portfolio is packed full of dreamy getaways like the Curio Collection by Hilton, the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront, Margaritaville Lake Resort Lake of the Ozarks, San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, Canopy by Hilton Tempe, and Flamingo Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo. The company currently has 75-plus hotels, 27 brands, and 14,500-plus rooms under its banner, and Driftwood only continues to expand.
Nystrom has been part of that incredible growth since joining the company in 2012, but his design and construction roots go much deeper. Having worked in his family’s construction business during his college years, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the construction industry.
“I went to college thinking I wanted to become an architect but quickly changed over to building construction and eventually started my own general contracting company,” Nystrom explains. “After a short stint in residential construction, I needed a faster pace, so I moved into building restaurants and high-end retail stores. I thought this was my sweet spot until I was given the opportunity to do a hotel renovation. It was the fast-paced schedule and the complex coordination that challenged me, and the rest is history.”
He then transitioned from contractor to the owner’s side of hospitality, working on exclusive golf resort properties and collaborating with national hospitality companies. It was in that capacity that he met Driftwood Hospitality Management. After they completed several successful projects together, Nystrom joined the Driftwood team as an “army of one.”
Since then, he has not only grown his team to nearly 15 but also cultivated a reputation for running a team that’s capable of pulling off major renovations quickly—which is no small feat.
“Fast-paced renovation projects are always a challenge. It takes time to complete the design and get brand approval before we can start,” Nystrom explains. “It takes massive coordination and scheduling, and we have built a team that does a fantastic job of working with brands like Marriott and Hilton to create a streamlined process. In addition, we have built relationships with designers and contractors that we keep coming back to because they deliver excellent work. They understand how fast we move, and they’re built for it.”
Nystrom’s team recently finished renovations in Dallas; Houston; Appleton, Wisconsin; and Pittsburgh and is currently working on projects in Houston Galleria, the largest mall in Texas; Cocoa Beach, Florida; Scottsdale, Arizona; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Hilton at Cocoa Beach is being renovated for the second time in eight years due to the increased tourist attention brought about by SpaceX and NASA launches.
When it comes to new builds, Driftwood and its partners are currently working on a new $250 million Westin Oceanfront Resort just down the street from the Hilton Cocoa Beach, in addition to a mixed-use entertainment and hotel project called the Dream. They’re also planning a new build in San Juan, but Driftwood’s development team takes the reins on larger developmental projects so Nystrom can continue delivering fresh renovations.
The SVP says maintaining close working relationships with the company’s partners helps the organization to stay nimble and flow in the right direction. “When we commit up front, we already know that commitment can be fulfilled because our in-house procurement team has built long-term relationships with manufacturers and vendors,” he explains.
More broadly, Nystrom says his team’s success is the product of hard work and the opportunity to work with the same people for many years. “Keeping the team together is key!” Most of his project managers have been with him for at least five years, so they fully understand the complexity of a hotel renovation and are highly skilled in completing the project with minimal guest disruption.
“We have been lucky enough to have been able to sustain a steady pipeline of projects so we can keep our project managers flowing to the next project, maintaining quality, preserving budgets, and delivering successful projects,” he says.
While Nystrom enjoys his work renovating hotels, he admits that sleeping in hotels often doesn’t have quite the same allure it did a decade ago. So, he and his wife bought an RV and ventured into the world of “glamping,” allowing them to spend quality time together when Nystrom isn’t heavily involved in a project.
Meanwhile, Driftwood is continuing to grow. Fortunately, Nystrom loves a challenge—and he was built for this.