Asia a key market for Two Roads’ growth
Asia a key market for Two Roads’ growth
11 SEPTEMBER 2017 7:50 AM

As the lifestyle management company moves past its 2016 merger, it is focused on growing its portfolio of brands, which includes importing a key Asian brand to the U.S.

DENVER—As Two Roads Hospitality settles into life post-merger, a robust pipeline—including brand expansion to new continents—represents how the company continues to look forward, according to CEO Jamie Sabatier.

The management company announced in July it would expand its Singapore-based Alila Hotels & Resorts brand to North America for the first time with the renovation and rebranding of the Ventana Big Sur resort in Big Sur, California.

Two Roads formed in 2016 as a merger between Commune Hotels & Resorts and Destination Hotels, and it is owned by Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises and San Francisco-based Geolo Capital. The Alila brand was founded in Singapore in 2001 and acquired by Commune Hotels & Resorts in 2015. Its portfolio comprises 15 properties, including Ventana Big Sur, largely in Indonesia and India, with additional properties in Oman and China.

Along with Alila, Two Roads’ brands include Destination Hotels, Joie de Vivre, Thompson Hotels and Tommie.

In 2015, Geolo Capital along with Wanxiang America acquired the Ventana Inn & Spa property, and Commune Hotels & Resorts, then Two Roads, continued to manage it.

Now the 59-room luxury resort property takes the Alila Hotels & Resorts name, alongside a multimillion-dollar renovation and fall re-opening.

“One of the goals of the merger was to create a company that had a global footprint,” Sabatier said. “We’ve got a great team in Asia with Alila, and we knew we wanted to bring it to our markets here in North America.”

He said Big Sur is an ideal location to introduce the brand to North America.

“It’s a brand that’s about offering really elevated and immersive experiences, and as we thought about the launching point in North America, we couldn’t have thought of a better place than Big Sur, given its stunning natural landscape,” he said.

Asian opportunities
Asia is a key market for the company, Sabatier said, and expansion of the Alila brand is a big part of that.

“Alila has great cache in Asia with the development and ownership community and guests,” he said. “Our pipeline there is extremely robust, not just with resort properties for Alila, but we’ll be opening city-center properties with Alila as well. We see growth of the brand in major urban markets, as well as a continued focus on the fabulous gateway resorts in Asia it’s known for.”

In the future, he said he sees “a big opportunity to bring our brands like Thompson, JDV, Destination and Tommie to Asia as well.”

Other brand highlights
Continuing to grow the Alila brand in North America is part of the company’s strategy to strengthen ties with Asian guests, Sabatier said.

“We have a pipeline of Alila opportunities in North America,” he said. “We look at our pipeline and think about creating not just exposure for the brand, but also that strong tie with the Asian customer. … Between our teams here and in Asia, we’re having success in helping North American customers go to Asia, and vice versa for our Asian customers wanting to come to North America.”

In addition to Alila, the company continues to grow its brand footprint across North America and beyond.

“As we move past the merger and have integrated our companies, we have a strong team in place and I’ve never seen our pipeline as robust as it is today,” he said.

The company’s Thompson brand “has the most momentum,” Sabatier said, pointing to several North America properties in its pipeline, and a forthcoming property in Mexico.

For the JDV brand, Sabatier said a recent highlight was the summer opening of 50 Bowery in New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood. The 229-room hotel “is really emblematic of the JDV brand—a neighborhood brand,” he said. “We’ve been able to move from being a West Coast brand (with JDV) to one that’s much more nationwide.”

In the works for JDV is its first outpost in Asia, a new-build.

The company’s Destination Hotels brand also is growing, and Sabatier noted the brand took management of the Royal Isabela oceanfront resort in Puerto Rico earlier this year.

Two Roads’ newest brand, Tommie, billed as “a lifestyle micro hotel,” will finally debut in Los Angeles “in late 2018, early 2019,” he said. “We have a pretty good pipeline of opportunities with that, but as developers see the finished product, they’ll see how it’ll draw guests.”

Culture and brand promise are at the heart of Two Roads’ strategy, Sabatier said.

“What we focus on is making sure that as we grow, we’re being very thoughtful about having a strong owner who are real stewards of the property, and having properties we think are enhancing the brand,” he said. “We can deliver for our guests with great experiences, and deliver for our owners with great talent.

“We feel like the merger is in our rearview window. We are on the offense and looking to grow. Owners and developers are focused on the lifestyle space, and that’s the history of our company. We built the company to have a real estate-centric and lifestyle-centric perspective, and that’s what we are.”

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