THE WOODLANDS (HOUSTON), TX – Benchmark Hospitality International and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, a Gencom affiliate, both recognized global leaders in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers, announce that Benchmark and Gemstone have joined together to create a portfolio of 58 unique and distinctive properties with 10,000 staff members across the globe.
“This merger was a natural fit,” explains Benchmark Hospitality International 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.” Mr. Cabañas continues with, “We felt it was critical to share this exciting news with our clients and employees before the press release went public.” Cabañas concludes with, “Though this has not been common in other industry mergers, for us it was the right thing to do to ensure the change and transition was thoroughly embraced by our ownership clients and team members.”
Greg Champion, Benchmark’s president & COO emphasizes that, “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.”
“Passion, servant leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit will remain at the foundation of our new combined company,” says 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 chief executive officer, and Jeff McIntyre and Greg 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.
Already being described as an epic merger of two legendary hotel companies into one extraordinary portfolio, the formal coming together represents a response to a market that is rapidly moving towards independent and soft brands, with a strategic focus on experience-driven, destination travel. The combined company will further this focus and apply its unique entrepreneurial 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. “The platform that is being created is robust and in part designed for well-measured growth,” explained Thomas Prins, “something we will take advantage of while at the same time creating great case studies at each of our existing properties.”
Most importantly, the merger represents an opportunity to combine the collective resources and experience of both companies to better serve ownership partners, customers and the independent property segment of the hospitality industry. The new company has already begun to integrate the best systems and resources from both organizations, using a well-engineered plan to create maximum efficiencies, while other aspects of consolidation will occur over time.
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, Texas with satellite offices in Park City, Utah and Miami, Florida.
“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.”