Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts Join Together, New Company Operates 58 Independent Properties in US and Internationally

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Benchmark Hospitality International® and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, a Gencom affiliate, both recognized global leaders in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers, announce that Benchmark and Gemstone have joined together to create a portfolio of 58 unique and distinctive properties with 10,000 staff members across the globe.

Alex Cabañas

"This merger was a natural fit," explains Benchmark Hospitality International CEO Alex Cabañas. "Not only do we share a similar focus on unique and independent properties, but our organizational cultures and values align extremely well."

Benchmark Hospitality International® and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, a Gencom affiliate, both recognized global leaders in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers, announce that Benchmark and Gemstone have joined together to create a portfolio of 58 unique and distinctive properties with 10,000 staff members across the globe.

"This merger was a natural fit," explains Benchmark Hospitality International CEO Alex Cabañas. "Not only do we share a similar focus on unique and independent properties, but our organizational cultures and values align extremely well." Mr. Cabañas continues with, “We felt it was critical to share this exciting news with our clients and employees before the press release went public.” Cabañas concludes with, “Though this has not been common in other industry mergers, for us it was the right thing to do to ensure the change and transition was thoroughly embraced by our ownership clients and team members.”

Greg Champion, Benchmark’s president & COO emphasizes that, “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," says Jeff McIntyre, Gemstone’s principal partner. "Together, we will combine efforts to offer best-in-class services for our partners."

In the newly-merged company, Burt Cabañas, Benchmark Hospitality’s founder and chairman, and Gencom, led by Karim Alibhai, will be the principal shareholders. Burt Cabañas will continue in his role of chairman of the combined companies, the remaining partners of both companies will serve in the following roles with the new entity; Alex Cabañas will serve as chief executive officer, and Jeff McIntyre and Greg Champion will serve as co-presidents and co-chief operating officers. Thomas Prins, a Gemstone partner, will take on the new role of managing director real estate investments.

Already being described as an epic merger of two legendary hotel companies into one extraordinary portfolio, the formal coming together represents a response to a market that is rapidly moving towards independent and soft brands, with a strategic focus on experience-driven, destination travel. The combined company will further this focus and apply its unique entrepreneurial management style to the expanded portfolio of independently-branded properties, while also deploying soft brands, such as Curio, Autograph Collection, Tribute, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Leading Hotels of the World, Historic Hotels of the World and IACC. Further growth is on the agenda for the combined company with projects already in the pipeline. “The platform that is being created is robust and in part designed for well-measured growth,” explained Thomas Prins, “something we will take advantage of while at the same time creating great case studies at each of our existing properties.”

Most importantly, the merger represents an opportunity to combine the collective resources and experience of both companies to better serve ownership partners, customers and the independent property segment of the hospitality industry. The new company has already begun to integrate the best systems and resources from both organizations, using a well-engineered plan to create maximum efficiencies, while other aspects of consolidation will occur over time.

Benchmark and Gemstone are currently engaged in a comprehensive strategic envisioning and branding process to determine the new brand pillars, signature and brand positioning for the consolidated company, and plans to roll this out in the near future. Headquarters will be located in Houston, Texas with satellite offices in Park City, Utah and Miami, Florida.

“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 Karim Alibhai. “This is a merger of two highly sought after companies with superior management capabilities. The management team combined has a wealth of hospitality experience, transcending over all classes of hotels, resorts and conference centers with strong performance through multiple business cycles.”

To learn more about this dynamic partnership and innovative transition, visit:
http://www.benchmarkresortsandhotels.com/Gemstone_Resorts_Merger/

About Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®
Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® represents the finest in lodging, dining, recreational and meeting accommodations. Many are certified by IACC, the leading professional organization governing the multi-billion dollar conference center industry on five continents, and many have also been recognized with the coveted Benchmark Conference Centers® certification of meeting excellence. Benchmark Resorts & Hotels deliver highly specialized service that anticipates guests' needs and ensures a hospitality experience unsurpassed and long remembered. http://www.benchmarkresortsandhotels.com. To become a fan on Facebook, visit http://www.facebook.com/BenchmarkResortsandHotels, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BenchmarkHotels.

About Gemstone Hotels & Resorts LLC
Headquartered in Park City, Utah, with offices in Stamford, Connecticut, and Miami Florida, Gemstone is a full-service management company that specializes in luxury and upscale hotels and complex resorts. Gemstone currently manages 19 hotels and resorts throughout the United States. For more information about Gemstone, please visit http://www.gemstoneresorts.com.

About Benchmark Hospitality International®
Benchmark Hospitality International® is a recognized global leader in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers. The company’s two distinctive portfolios of properties, Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels®, represent the finest in guest-dedicated hospitality in unique destinations across the United States, in the Caribbean and Japan. Benchmark Conference Centers® maintain the highest standards for certification in meeting excellence. Benchmark Hospitality was launched in 1980 as an independent company and today operates worldwide from offices in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, and regional offices in New Jersey, Washington State, Japan and Chile. For additional company information visit http://www.benchmarkhospitality.com. To become a fan on Facebook, visit http://www.facebook.com/BenchmarkResortsandHotels, or follow us on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/BenchmarkHotels.

About Gencom
Founded in 1987 by Karim Alibhai, Gencom is one of the nation’s leading domestic and international investment and development firms specializing in the hospitality and luxury hospitality related residential real estate sectors. Headquartered in Miami, Gencom is fully-integrated and highly diversified, with expertise in virtually every aspect of development, acquisition, financing, asset management and sales of hospitality properties. Gencom has had success not only in developing, purchasing and exiting single assets and hotel portfolios, it also has been successful in creating, purchasing and growing hospitality platform investments, throughout the United States, Caribbean and Europe, including Gencom American Hospitality, Patriot American Hospitality, Carnival Resorts and Interstate Hotels. Gencom companies’ successful track record has led to significant ventures with prominent institutional investors, prominent family groups and other strategic partners both domestically and internationally. For more information about Gencom, please visit http://www.gencomgrp.com.

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Ken Ellens
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