by Sarah J.F. Braley | July 11, 2016
Benchmark Hospitality International and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, a Gencom affiliate, have merged to create a portfolio of 58 properties around the globe.
"This merger was a natural fit," said Alex Cabañas, CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International.  "Not only do we share a similar focus on unique and independent properties, but our organizational cultures and values align extremely well."

Greg Champion, Benchmark's president and COO added: "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," said Jeff McIntyre, Gemstone's principal partner. "Together, we will combine efforts to offer best-in-class services for our partners."

The new company's principal shareholders will be Burt Cabañas, Benchmark Hospitality's founder and chairman, and Gencom, led by Karim Alibhai. Cabañas will continue in his role of chairman, and the remaining partners of both companies will serve in the following roles: Alex Cabañas as CEO, and Jeff McIntyre and Greg Champion as co-presidents and co-COOs. Thomas Prins, a Gemstone partner, will take on the new role of managing director of real estate investments.

The combined company will focus on its portfolio of independently branded properties, while also looking for opportunities to expand with soft brands such as Curio by Hilton, Marriott's Autograph Collection, Starwood's Tribute Portfolio, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Leading Hotels of the World, Historic Hotels of the World and the International Association of Conference Centers. Several projects already are in the pipeline. "The platform that is being created is robust and in part designed for well-measured growth," said Prins. The new company already has begun to integrate the best systems and resources from both organizations.

Also under way is the process to determine the new brand pillars, signatures and brand positioning for the consolidated company, whose 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 Alibhai. "This is a merger of two highly sought-after companies with superior management capabilities."