As published in the Cayman Compass – TUESDAY DECEMBER 23, 2014
The half-built Kimpton Hotel. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
The buyout of the Kimpton boutique hotel brand by the multinational Intercontinental Hotel Group is “positive news” for the Cayman Islands, according to developer Dart Realty.
The takeover of the Kimpton brand, which is famous for its originality and has cultivated a loyal customer base with quirky touches like pet-friendly rooms and leopard-print bathrobes, caused immediate concern among some of its biggest fans that it could lose its charm.
Travel guide Frommers featured an editorial on the US$430 million purchase under the headline, “Adorable hotel brand Kimpton sells out”.
But both Kimpton and Intercontinental Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotelier, insist the San Francisco-based chain will retain its character and independence. And developer Dart Realty, which is in the process of building a US$200 million Kimpton brand hotel on Seven Mile Beach, welcomes the move, saying it will open up new marketing opportunities.
IHG Chief Executive Officer Richard Solomons suggested his company was buying the Kimpton brand precisely because of its originality – something not typically associated with the group’s more well-known brands Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.
“We’re buying this business because of the capability it brings, their brilliance in food and beverage and design,” he said. “They can really add to our business and we to theirs.”
Hotel industry analysts at the firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., told USA Today they felt Intercontinental was making a wise investment.
“IHG has been lacking a material presence in the upper upscale segment and this acquisition fills that void,” the company said.
Dart Realty suggested the biggest impact of the decision for its Kimpton-brand hotel, under construction on Seven Mile Beach, would be access to more customers.
“We view the IHG acquisition of the Kimpton brand as positive news for the Cayman Islands and our project. This presents us with the opportunity to leverage their vast distribution network to help grow Cayman’s tourism market overall, in particular through their sales strength in the U.K. and continental Europe and their corporate and incentive group markets,” said Jackie Doak, chief operating officer.
Mike Depatie, chief executive officer of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, said the move would help the boutique hotel chain grow.
“Kimpton is a unique business with a strong track record of excellence in everything from design and innovative hotel concepts to financial and operational performance. It also has enormous potential for growth, both in its home market of the U.S. and globally. IHG is the ideal partner for Kimpton and has absolutely the right experience and specialist capabilities to help the business move to the next phase of rapid growth.”