A merger between the two like-minded lifestyle hotel companies will pave the way for domestic and international growth, including plans to introduce or acquire additional brands.
Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on 3 October 2011. The article was chosen as part of Hotel News Now’s look back at 10 years of the hotel industry.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—A merger between like-minded boutique brands Joie de Vivre and Thompson Hotels will boost the national presence of each brand, present international growth opportunities and pave the way for the introduction of new, global lifestyle brands.
Thompson co-owner Stephen Brandman told HotelNewsNow.com the hotel companies will remain independent but have a parent brand—temporarily called JT Hospitality—that will explore opportunities to create sub-brands and develop hotels globally. It’s the first step in the creation of a “multi-brand lifestyle hotel group with a global footprint,” he said.
“They are going to remain two distinct brands,” Brandman said, “with the opportunity to create a third brand, a fourth brand, whether that be by acquisition or developed internally. So we’re looking to having a parent brand (JT Hospitality) that will have individual brands underneath.”
The move immediately grows San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre and New York-based Thompson Hotels to a portfolio of 45 nationwide properties, as well as one in Toronto (The Thompson Toronto) and one opening later this year in London (Belgraves—a Thompson Hotel).
John Pritzker, whose investment arm Geolo Capital owns four Joie de Vivre hotels, and Jason Pomeranc, co-owner of Thompson Hotels, will serve as co-chairmen of JT Hospitality. Brandman, also a co-owner of Thompson, will serve as CEO.
“It’s been our objective to continue to grow Thompson,” Brandman said. “Not in the way we have over the past few years, but by adding other sub-brands that will offer options. We’ve been playing around with a brand that is less expensive and in secondary cities. Not just how to grow more hotels, but we’ve been thinking about how to branch out and reach a broader audience.
“This is just the beginning, obviously,” he continued. “There might be other flags and other opportunities that come along the way. We have access to a (US)$150-million fund.”
With the merger, the Thompson brand gains access to Geolo Capital's earlier commitment of a US$150-million fund dedicated to acquisitions. First on the priority list is to expand the two brands domestically and internationally through management contracts, acquisitions and joint ventures.
There are immediate plans to add additional luxury resorts and introduce a resort brand, Brandman said.
“Obviously it would be great to see Joie de Vivre as a global brand,” he said. “They’ve made the right steps with the Scottsdale and Chicago properties, and they’ve bought a piece of land in New York. This just broadens the landscape.”
Brandman said Thompson and Joie de Vivre hotels are all unique but have similar DNA.
“Both companies separately have had good fortune over the past couple years,” he said. “We continued to grow through difficult times. We look at this as an opportunity to go out and find properties that are challenged and ownership companies that want to make a change.”
JT Hospitality will not be a “brand” in that all the hotels look similar, Brandman said. Each hotel in the portfolio will keep its individual personality.
“I’d like to think the public understands that when they check into a Joie de Vivre hotel or a Thompson Hotel, that they understand who they’re staying with,” he said. “Both companies have been successful in doing that over the past couple years.”