THE WOODLANDS, Texas—Following a landmark merger of Benchmark Hospitality International and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, the collective company has launched an expanded organization and portfolio, new corporate identity, and four distinct brands. The launch of the combined, iconic companies, to be known as “Benchmark,” a global hospitality company, will include over 70 unique and distinctive hotels, resorts and conference centers, 8,000 guestrooms, 10,000 employees, and a combined management team of highly respected hospitality executives from both companies, noted for their seasoned and global experience, entrepreneurial spirit and proven expertise in sales & marketing, finance, operations and food & beverage.
Benchmark will include new and recognized hospitality brands spanning hotels, resorts, and conference centers. They include:
1) Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, the company’s existing signature portfolio of distinctive and upscale hotels and resorts in the US and the Caribbean.
2) The new Gemstone Collection, which will encompass both the properties of Benchmark’s “Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels” and Gemstone’s “Gemstone Hotels & Resorts.” Both unique portfolios are exceptional in quality, individuality, and style. All of the hotels reflect the charm and character of their unique destination. The Gemstone Collection name was chosen as it speaks to something valued and uniquely individual like the incredible collection of independent luxury hotels and resorts the name represents.
3) Benchmark Conference Centers, formally introduced to the meetings market in 2014, but a part of Benchmark since inception, designates properties that are purpose-built conference centers and exceptional meeting venues offering the most productive and innovative meeting spaces, personally-tailored service, and locally sourced, customized cuisine. Each Benchmark Conference Center meets a rigorous set of criteria and conforms to the requirements of IACC, the association that represents the finest meeting venues and service globally.
4) OAG—Owner Advisory Group. Unique in the industry, Benchmark’s OAG platform offers owners asset management expertise in maximizing an asset’s value for optimized profitability and valuation. Benchmark’s OAG drives hotel performance by leveraging resources through Benchmark’s operating platform and using its real estate expertise to provide owners new ways to increase the value of their hotel’s operations and real estate investments. OAG consists of seasoned real estate professionals and leading hospitality executives whose purpose is to add significant value at every point in the process of hotel investment and ownership.
The new Benchmark has resulted in a robust, more versatile and effective organization that combines the unique strengths of both companies. Gemstone brings a superb financial management system to the newly blended company and Benchmark Hospitality offers exceptional sales and marketing platforms and the incredibly robust Workday human resources platform.
The new company also boasts an outstanding team of highly regarded hospitality professionals, including Jeff McIntyre and Thomas Prins, who led Gemstone’s growth trajectory over the past 22 years, as well as Alex Cabañas and Greg Champion of Benchmark, who doubled the company portfolio making it one of the nation’s largest privately owned hospitality management companies. Jeff McIntyre and Greg Champion serve as co-presidents of the new company and Alex Cabañas as CEO. Burt Cabañas, founder of Benchmark, serves as chairman.
The Benchmark and Gemstone teams worked with a leading hospitality market research and branding firm to determine the most strategic way to create an identity program with new logos to distinguish the new company and the four brands. Said Benchmark CEO Alex Cabañas, “Our goal was to create an identity that reflects the global leadership, exceptional properties, and dynamic synergies and opportunities the merged company now brings to its owners, guests and employees.”
Cabañas also noted that intensive market research clearly showed that the Benchmark identity should be retained as the parent company name. The brand’s strength lies in its focus on independent and soft brands and experience-driven destination travel, which are increasingly driving the market. “To benchmark against something is a common practice and suggests a reference to the best—the high water mark in time. All roads in life lead you to aspire to achieve the benchmark—the best. Therefore, the expanded company will be known simply as Benchmark, a global hospitality company.”
“Benchmark means the standard by which all others are measured,” continued Cabañas. “Both companies, Benchmark and Gemstone, throughout our histories have desired to be the best in what we do, never settling for just good enough and always learning from today and crafting our tomorrow. It was most interesting through this process, that those of us most familiar with the word Benchmark rekindled our passion for the true meaning of the word. While the word is the same, how we use it in our branding and culture will be different and more powerful.”
Benchmark’s new logo consists of a triangle and globe, symbolic of Benchmark’s “triangle” concept of balancing Living, Learning and Leisure in both design and operations, originally created by Burt Cabañas at the company’s founding in 1980. The globe represents the company’s expanding global presence and expertise.