Residence Inn, WaterWalk founder Jack DeBoer dies at 90

[From left] WaterWalk International CEO Mimi Oliver, WaterWalk founder Jack DeBoer and former Oakwood CEO Chris Ahearn introduced the Oakwood WaterWalk brand in 2019. Photo credit: Oakwood (WaterWalk Executive Vice President Mimi Rogers, WaterWalk founder and CEO Jack DeBoer, and Oakwood CEO Chris Ahearn)

Jack DeBoer, who is widely credited as the creator of the extended-stay hotel concept, has died at 90.

According to WaterWalk International, which DeBoer founded, his career started in Kalamazoo, Mich., when he began selling real estate during the summer months while in high school. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in business in 1952, and following two years as a military police officer during the Korean War, he teamed up with his father to build homes in southern Michigan. 

In 1975, DeBoer and Holiday Inn franchisee Robert L. Brock launched Residence Inn, the first extended-stay brand, in Wichita, Kan., and went on to build or franchise 103 more properties before selling The Residence Inn Co. to Marriott Corp. in 1987. In 1988, he co-founded Summerfield Hotel Corp., a second-generation upscale all-suites hotel chain, which was later sold to Hyatt Hotels Corp. 

Jack DeBoer. Photo credit: WaterWalk

In 1995, he founded Candlewood Hotel Co. After developing 130 hotels, Candlewood was purchased by IHG in December 2003. In June 2002, DeBoer used his extended-stay hotel model to create Value Place (now known as Woodspring Suites), an extended-stay hotel that continues to expand with more than 195 locations.

He launched WaterWalk International, a real estate investment opportunity that combines extended-stay hotels with apartment ownership, in 2014. Less than two years ago, WaterWalk partnered with Oakwood, a global provider of furnished housing and serviced apartments, to create a new brand: Oakwood WaterWalk. 

His work in the hospitality field earned him the UCLA hotel industry Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2001. He received the Lodging Conference Above and Beyond Award and the Hunter Conference Award for Excellence and Inspiration. In 2012, DeBoer was inducted into the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor at the University of Houston and was selected by the American Hotel & Lodging Association for the Lodging Inspiration Award. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in the fall 2013. 

He is survived by Marilyn DeBoer, his wife of 67 years, two children and three grandchildren.