Ashford Hospitality Trust Announces Leadership Transition as Veteran CEO Steps Down

Stephen Zsigray, Ashford's current SVP of corporate finance and strategy, is set to lead Ashford Hospitality Trust into a new era following Rob Hays’ departure.

Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc., a Dallas-based real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on investing predominantly in upper upscale, full-service hotels, has announced a leadership succession plan.

Rob Hays, the current president and CEO, will step down effective June 30 and will be succeeded in that role by Stephen Zsigray, Ashford’s current SVP of corporate finance and strategy.

Hays, who has been with Ashford for nearly 20 years, will spend the next few months working alongside Zsigray to ensure a smooth transition. After his departure, Hays plans to pursue a business opportunity outside of real estate with his father, according to the company.

“I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the company and our hospitality business for almost two decades and consider myself blessed to have guided this wonderful organization over the past four years,” Hays said in a statement. “Were it not for this opportunity I have, I would undoubtedly be at Ashford for the rest of my career,” 

Hays, who says he has worked with incoming CEO Zsigray for many years, calls him an “exceptional leader and a terrific successor,” adding that “Ashford Trust is well positioned for long-term success.”

Ashford board chair Monty J. Bennett thanked Hays for his service to the company.

“We are incredibly grateful to Rob for his immense dedication and commitment to our organization,” Bennett said in a statement. “Although we’re disappointed with his departure, we fully appreciate and respect his desire to pursue his personal plans and business endeavors.”

Bennett added: “The board is thrilled to have Stephen take on expanded responsibilities at Ashford Trust. He’s played a major role in the Company’s success over the last decade and is a perfect fit to be Rob’s successor. I am confident that the transition to new leadership will be seamless.”

Experience in investment management and hospitality

Zsigray has held his current position since May 2020. The company said he also heads Ashford Inc.’s cash management platform and oversees corporate hedging strategy. Since 2020, Zsigray has helped the platforms raise more than $1.2 billion in common and preferred equity, secure over $1 billion in new corporate and property-level debt financing, and negotiate maturity extensions on over $3 billion in mortgage debt.

In addition to his role at Ashford Trust, Zsigray has been the CFO and treasurer of Stirling Hotels & Resorts since November.

Zsigray joined Ashford in 2014 as a trader and portfolio manager in Ashford’s investment management division and subsequently served as president and chief operating officer of OpenKey, an Ashford-affiliated hospitality technology company that provides digital guest key and access control solutions to hotels worldwide, according to the company.

Before joining Ashford, Zsigray was with UBS Investment Bank in New York, where he traded and helped clients structure derivatives across equity, fixed-income, and commodity markets.

Zsigray began his career with Deloitte Consulting in St. Louis, where he advised Fortune 500 clients on issues related to mergers and acquisitions, business transformation, and process improvement.

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