Thompson, Joie de Vivre merge

Thompson Hotels, an international collection of 12 luxury lifestyle hotels, and San Francisco-based boutique operator Joie de Vivre Hospitality on Monday announced they have merged into a new venture provisionally known as JT Hospitality. It is the first step in the creation of a multi-brand lifestyle hotel group with a global footprint. The new group will be formally renamed early next year in concert with the completion of a comprehensive joint branding exercise that is currently underway.

Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre Hospitality are equal partners in the merger that now incorporates 45 hotels and annual revenues of approximately US$500 million.

Thompson Hotels CEO and Co-owner Stephen Brandman, who will serve as CEO of the new company in New York City, told HOTELS he would like to see the new company grow to 75 hotels within three to five years, adding, “This is a good marriage. The players and participants like each other and have common goals to create a global hotel vehicle.”

Hospitality veteran John Pritzker, whose private equity firm Geolo Capital acquired a majority stake in Joie de Vivre in June of last year, will serve as co-chairman alongside Jason Pomeranc, the creative vision behind Thompson Hotels and one of its co-owners. The new parent company will be formally introduced in the first quarter of 2012 when the global branding strategy is rolled out.

JT Hospitality plans to further expand the two brands domestically and internationally through management contracts, acquisitions and joint ventures. The company, which manages Carmel Valley Ranch and Ventana Inn & Spa, will also add additional luxury resorts and introduce a resort brand. Brandman told HOTELS that a portfolio acquisition is a potential option, especially on the resort side. With the merger, the Thompson brand gains access to Geolo Capital’s earlier commitment of a $150 million fund dedicated to hotel acquisitions and co-investments.

As a result of the fund created last year, Joie de Vivre has made significant headway on its expansion, acquiring two hotels and a development site in Manhattan, as well as signing up several new management contracts, including hotels in Scottsdale and Chicago, which represent the company’s first forays outside of California.

Brandman added that existing collective infrastructure has the capacity to manage the portfolio, grow the business and satisfy various existing owners. “We are both developing projects now and our goals are to be profitable and grow the business in a relatively short period.”

Jason Pomeranc said in a statement, “It’s exciting to take on the challenge with John of formulating the strategic vision and direction for the new company. We will be able to take the sensibilities and cultures of the two brands and spread them across different sectors and offer more accessibility with the various price points. Our owners will get the benefits of working with a bigger brand but still get the individuality of an independent.”

Gary Beasley, who has been serving as interim CEO of Joie de Vivre since September 2010, will return to Geolo Capital to focus on business development for JT Hospitality. The Joie de Vivre brand will continue to be run day-to-day out of San Francisco by Joie de Vivre President and COO Ingrid Summerfield.

Chip Conley, Joie de Vivre’s founder, will retain a significant equity stake in the new company and remain involved as a strategic advisor.

Thompson Hotels Co-founders Michael and Lawrence Pomeranc will each be significant owners in JT Hospitality and continue to develop properties for JT Hospitality as well as sit on the company’s advisory board.

Sky high lounge, Above 6, at Thompson Hotel's Six Columbus, New York City
Sky high lounge, Above 6, at Thompson Hotel’s Six Columbus, New York City