People on the move at Driftwood Capital, Flynn Properties and more

Executives in the hospitality industry have taken new roles. Here’s a look:

Driftwood Capital adds managing directors to executive team
Driftwood Capital, a vertically integrated commercial real estate investment, development and lending platform specializing in hospitality, has expanded its executive team with the appointment of two new managing directors. Caroline Gould Lewittes has joined the firm as managing director, investor & public relations, and George Rupp has come aboard as managing director, business development & consultant relations. Both professionals work out of the firm’s Miami headquarters.

Lewittes has worked in communications and marketing for her entire career, with a specific focus on investor and public relations in private equity over the last seven years. She most recently spearheaded investor and public relations at Kayne Anderson Real Estate based in Boca Raton, FL, and has consulted with several other private equity firms. At Driftwood Capital, she will oversee all channels of communications with investors and other key stakeholders. Prior to moving into private equity, Lewittes worked at public relations agencies in her native New York, where she created visibility programs for hotels, restaurants, government agencies, hospitals, colleges, real estate developers and more.

Rupp has more than 20 years of professional experience in the financial markets, investment management and financial advisory fields, and will lead Driftwood Capital’s business development initiatives, including institutional capital raising and consultant relations. Prior to joining Driftwood, he served as managing director and head of capital formation and institutional distribution at Walker & Dunlop Investment Partners in Denver. Prior to that, he was VP, business development at Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors in Los Angeles, where he oversaw marketing the firm’s energy, real estate and credit funds. Rupp was also a managing partner at a high-net-worth family office based in Los Angeles that was affiliated with a Central Eastern European commercial real estate fund. Earlier in his career, he served two stints with investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co., both as an investment banker and as a private wealth advisor.

Flynn Properties hires industry vet Julie Purnell
Flynn Properties Inc., owner of commercial real estate, luxury resorts and select-service hotel properties in the U.S. and abroad, has added hospitality veteran Julie Purnell to its senior leadership team. She will serve as the company’s senior director, asset management and is tasked with overseeing Flynn’s investment in its expanding select-service hotel portfolio and assisting with future acquisitions.

Flynn recently acquired 20 select service hotels—11 Marriott and nine Hilton-branded properties—in a $211-million deal with Apple Hospitality REIT. The newly acquired properties, located throughout the Sun Belt, Northeast, Pacific Northwest and Midwest, will undergo capital improvements over time. Flynn will lead day-to-day asset management of the portfolio and execution of the business plan. This most recent acquisition brings the firm’s hotel portfolio count to 30 and is part of the firm’s specific initiative to grow a sizable platform of select-service hotels.

Purnell joins Flynn with 35 years of hospitality industry experience, with a focus on property acquisition, business development and asset management. Prior to her new position, she held leadership roles at several hotel companies and commercial real estate services and investment firms including Marriott International, Loews Hotels, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Denihan Investments and CBRE Inc.

Sonder makes changes to board of directors
Sonder Holdings Inc. has made new appointments to its board of directors.

Frits van Paasschen, current member of the board and former Starwood Hotels president/CEO, has been named lead independent director. Van Paasschen has served on Sonder’s board since February 2020. Janice L. Sears, former managing director and Western Region head at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will join the board and serve as Audit Committee Chair. Van Paasschen and Sears join Manon Brouillette, Nabeel Hyatt and Vivek Pattipati on Sonder’s board.

These appointments come at a time of accelerating growth for the company after it recently announced plans to be publicly listed through a combination with Gores Metropoulos II Inc.