by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 4, 2018

Cheryl-Anne SturkenVentana Big SurIt has been just over two years since Destination Hotels merged with Commune Hotels & Resorts, whose brands include Joie de Vivre Hotels, Thompson Hotels, Tommie Hotels and Alila Hotels & Resorts. While the combined company, now known as Two Roads Hospitality, initially struggled to find its footing and voice, it is now poised to play a more dominant role in the hospitality world, particularly in the group market, with a solid positioning of a portfolio of close to 90 unique properties.

At its 2018 Group Meetings Advisory Council Meeting held this past week at the 180-suite Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, Calif., executives of the fledgling Denver-based Two Roads outlined a number of initiatives on the table for 2018, aimed to amp up its lifestyle-management brand as well as energize its portfolio with brand expansion in several key markets.

“It has been a hard first two years, but things are settling down and we are coming together as a brand,” Chris Kenney, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Two Roads, told me over breakfast. “Our strategy is to stay in the background and let the hotels speak for themselves, because each of them is very much its own voice and very destination-centric. But there is a common thread that is woven throughout the portfolio, and that is what Two Roads is about. That is what we are working toward having our customers understand.”

According to Rick Colangelo, executive vice president, operations, lifestyle brands, there are more than 18 properties in the pipeline, across all of the company’s brands. “Meeting space is going to be significant in all of our hotels coming to market, and that’s not true for other hotel companies coming to market,” he said. “That is a strategic shift for Two Roads Hospitality.” If the pipeline goes as planned, Colangelo added, it could effectively double the Thompson brand, which currently stands at nine, by 2020.

Among properties coming to market are the 217-room Thompson Dallas at the Drever, a 50-story, 1.5-million-square-foot mixed-use development, in the former home of the First National Bank built in 1961. Scheduled to open in mid-2018, it will feature a three-story, 10,000-square-foot ballroom. It will be followed by the 167-room Thompson San Antonio in 2019, which will be adjacent to the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and a 180-room Thomson Houston, scheduled to open by 2020.

Alila Hotels & Resorts, Two Roads’ Asia-based brand, also is playing a more dominant role in the company’s expansion. It made its entrance into the U.S. last year with the 59-room Ventana Big Sur in California, which features 12,000 square feet of indoor meeting space.

Sherri Gilligan, Two Roads Hospitality’s newly established chief marketing officer, said the company will be focused on overhauling its website in the coming months to make it more seamless for planners to search and compare its properties. In addition, she said, the company currently is looking at developing a rewards program that will link its brands. “As a company, we are totally unscripted, because each of our properties is so unique,” said Gilligan. “Two Roads Hospitality is a holding company, and underneath us are our portfolio brands, and that’s what really matters. We are happy to stay in the background and let them shine.”

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