Benchmark Hospitality International and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts have joined forces to create a company with 58 properties in its portfolio.
"This merger was a natural fit," said Benchmark CEO Alex Cabañas. "Not only do we share a similar focus on unique and independent properties, but our organizational cultures and values align extremely well."
“The merger of these two great organizations creates not only incredible synergies and opportunities for the growth and expansion of the combined companies, but also provides wonderful prospects and pathways for the development and advancement for our much-valued customers, employees and team members,” said Greg Champion, Benchmark’s president & COO.
Benchmark is a management company that focuses on resorts, hotels and conference centers. The company has two portfolios of properties, Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels.
Gemstone is a full-service hotel management company that specializes in owning and operating luxury and upscale hotels and resorts. A member of the Gencom family of companies acquired an ownership interest in Gemstone in June 2015 for an undisclosed sum. Gemstone is the preferred management company for future acquisitions by the Gencom family of companies that do not contractually require management by the brand.
“Passion, servant leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit will remain at the foundation of our new combined company," said Jeff McIntyre, Gemstone’s principal partner. "Together, we will combine efforts to offer best-in-class services for our partners."
In the newly merged company, Burt Cabañas, Benchmark Hospitality’s founder and chairman, and Gencom, led by Karim Alibhai, will be the principal shareholders. Burt Cabañas will continue in his role of chairman of the combined companies, the remaining partners of both companies will serve in the following roles with the new entity; Alex Cabañas will serve as CEO, and McIntyre and Champion will serve as co-presidents and co-chief operating officers. Thomas Prins, a Gemstone partner, will take on the new role of managing director real estate investments.
The combined company will apply its management style to the expanded portfolio of independently branded properties, while also deploying soft brands such as Curio, Autograph Collection, Tribute, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Leading Hotels of the World, Historic Hotels of the World and IACC.
Further growth is on the agenda for the combined company with projects already in the pipeline. Benchmark announced in May that it is developing a new resort near Orlando. The Grove Resort & Spa is an 878-suite hotel in Lake Austin, five minutes from Walt Disney World. The property is scheduled to open its first phase fall 2016 with up to 292 two- and three-room residential-style guest suites. The hotel will be part of Benchmark's brand portfolio.
Benchmark and Gemstone are currently engaged in a comprehensive strategic envisioning and branding process to determine the new brand pillars, signature and brand positioning for the consolidated company, and plans to roll this out in the near future. Headquarters will be located in Houston with satellite offices in Miami and Park City, Utah.
“I am so pleased with this new partnership and the expansion of our company,” said Burt Cabañas. “This merger is in line with our overall strategic growth plans to double the size of our company within five years. With the merger of these two incredible organizations, we’re enthusiastically on our way toward achieving this significant goal, which will ultimately better serve the interests of our property owners and also create additional opportunities for our team members.”
“Gencom is very excited about being a part of this dynamic enterprise,” said Karim Alibhai. “This is a merger of two highly sought after companies with superior management capabilities. The management team combined has a wealth of hospitality experience, transcending over all classes of hotels, resorts and conference centers with strong performance through multiple business cycles.”