Item 1. Business
We are a self-advised and self-administered Maryland real estate investment trust ("REIT") that owns primarily premium-branded, high-margin, focused-service and compact full-service hotels. We are one of the largest U.S. publicly-traded lodging REITs in terms of both number of hotels and number of rooms. Our hotels are concentrated in markets that we believe exhibit multiple demand generators and attractive long-term growth prospects. We believe premium-branded, focused-service and compact full-service hotels with these characteristics generate high levels of RevPAR, strong operating margins and attractive returns.
As of December 31, 2018, we owned 151 hotel properties with approximately 28,800 rooms, located in 25 states and the District of Columbia. We owned, through wholly-owned subsidiaries, a 100% interest in 147 of our hotel properties, a 98.3% controlling interest in the DoubleTree Metropolitan Hotel New York City, a 95% controlling interest in The Knickerbocker, and 50% interests in entities owning two hotel properties. We consolidate our real estate interests in the 149 hotel properties in which we hold a controlling financial interest, and we record the real estate interests in the two hotel properties in which we hold an indirect 50% interest using the equity method of accounting. We lease 150 of the 151 hotel properties to our TRSs, of which we own a controlling financial interest.
For U.S. federal income tax purposes, we elected to be taxed as a REIT commencing with our taxable year ended December 31, 2011. Substantially all of our assets and liabilities are held by, and all of our operations are conducted through, the Operating Partnership. We are the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership. As of December 31, 2018, we owned, through a combination of direct and indirect interests, 99.6% of the units of limited partnership interest in the Operating Partnership ("OP units").
The Lodging Industry
The lodging industry in the United States consists of public and private entities that operate in an extremely diversified market under a variety of brand names. The key participants in the lodging industry are as follows:
Owners — own the hotel property and typically enter into a management agreement with an independent third party to manage the hotel property. The hotel properties may be branded and operated under the manager’s brand or branded under a separate franchise agreement.
Franchisors — own a brand or brands and provide the franchised hotels with brand recognition, marketing support and worldwide reservation systems.
Managers — responsible for the day-to-day operation of the hotel property, including the employment of the hotel staff, the determination of room rates, the development of sales and marketing plans, the preparation of operating and capital expenditure budgets and the preparation of financial reports for the owner.
Our Investment and Business Strategies
Our objective is to generate strong returns for our shareholders by acquiring and owning primarily premium-branded, focused-service and compact full-service hotels at prices where we believe we can generate attractive returns on investment and long-term value appreciation through proactive asset management. We also intend to selectively dispose of hotel properties when we believe the returns have been maximized or the hotel properties no longer meet our strategy in order to have investment capacity for other opportunities, which may include acquisitions. We intend to pursue this objective through the following investment and business strategies:
Targeted ownership of premium-branded, focused-service and compact full-service hotels. We believe that premium-branded, focused-service and compact full-service hotels have the potential to generate attractive returns relative to other types of hotels due to their ability to achieve RevPAR levels at or close to those generated by traditional full-service hotels, while achieving higher profit margins due to their more efficient operating model and less volatile cash flows.
Use of premium hotel brands. We believe in affiliating our hotels with premium brands owned by leading international franchisors such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham. We believe that utilizing premium brands