The Rise of Oakwood International
Oakwood International was a new division carved from Oakwood, an American leader in corporate housing, multifamily and commercial real estate since the 1960s. Oakwood was led by Chairman Howard Ruby, and he appointed Vice Chairman Gary Grubbs and President Jim Klein to lead the new International division in 1995.
Oakwood International was designed to bring the Oakwood brand to countries outside of the U.S., initially with a focus on Asia.
Paine Lake's Robert Philips was honored to join the founding team as an International Marketing Manager. Additional members of the founding team included Robert Grealy, Director of Operations; Toni Paciello Andell, International Sales Manager; Brian Chambers, Analyst; as well as Karen Litt and Margaret Gunderson, Executive Assistants.
The team pursued fundraising with joint venture partners and received three bids, from GIC (Singapore Sovereign Wealth), Itochu (Japan) and Lend Lease (Australia). The initial choice was Lend Lease, who later sold their shares to Colony Capital. Oakwood would then partner with other Asia-based real estate giants including Mitsui Fudosan (Japan), Ayala Land (Philippines) and Bangkok Bank (Thailand).
In 1996, the Oakwood International team created the Oakwood Premier brand, a luxurious new serviced apartment concept that was in demand in Asia. There have been 15 properties and more than 2,000 rooms designated as Oakwood Premier, and more than two billion USD has been invested in the brand.
In 1999, Oakwood arrived in Europe through a new joint venture, Oakwood United Kingdom. The brands would continue to grow worldwide, with a focus on customer service.
Oakwood Corporate Housing becoming the leading concept in the U.S., focusing on monthly furnished rentals, while Oakwood in Asia focused on upscale serviced apartments, including many with hotel licenses that could rent by the day or week.
The entirety of Oakwood was sold in 2017 to Mapletree Investments (Singapore Sovereign Wealth) and in 2022, it was sold again to CapitaLand (another arm of Singapore Sovereign Wealth) who purchased Oakwood as an acquisition for Ascott, its serviced apartment brand.