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Hard to believe it's been exactly nine months since we first learned that Joie De Vivre (JDV) and Thompson merged under one brand known as Commune. In March, Thompson announced their takeover of the historic 5 Beekman building in the Financial District (making it Thompson's sixth Manhattan hotel).
But now it sounds like things are really picking up over at Commune HQ, with two big announcements coming out in the past few weeks. First off, the company appointed a new CEO, Niki Leondakis, who, interestingly, comes straight out of Kimpton, where she served as COO.
Secondly, and this is the biggie: TravelWeekly tells us that JDV will be opening their first-ever New York hotel, a 250-room property. No deets on location, rates, or opening date yet, but—we're excited.
After all, New York could do with a little joie de vivre right about now...
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It looks like Chicago will be adding another boutique hotel to its rapidly-growing scene in 2014, with the conversion of the historic Chicago Athletic Association building into a 240-room hotel.
Located in the MIchigan Avenue landmark district, the building used to function as a hangout for wealthy Chicago bachelors in the early 1900s. A place where, according to the Chicago Tribune, "one could exercise, enjoy a fine meal in a beautiful setting, and then retire to a comfortable room for the evening, all under one roof." Sounds pretty good to us.
Just add in a flat-screen TV and an iPod/iPad docking station, and you're pretty much caught up to the demands of today's hotel guests.
Insert new Commune Hotel here.
When Thompson Hotels merged with Joie de Vivre hotels earlier this year to form Commune Hotels and Resorts, there was plenty of talk from Commune sources about the creation of a new hotel brand. Indeed we heard in April that Thompson was working on a Thompson-like budget brand.
Well, the time has come for a new Commune brand to go public...kinda.
Commune has let us know they are launching a new hotel concept that is "stylishly ergonomic" with "efficient guestrooms and communal dining in a dynamic and unique urban environment." Here's a little more verbiage from Commune on the new brand:
Complementing Commune's existing brands, Thompson Hotels and JDV, the new concept will be defined by intelligence and simplicity. This brand will appeal to a distinct type of traveler: educated, involved, and socially conscious global citizens who believe in the blending of form and function, beauty and responsibility. Commune's new concept will be innovative, creating evolving destinations that are sustainable, affordable, efficient and beautiful.
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We were excited to step into the lobby at San Francisco's Hotel Carlton, part of the
Joie De Vivre—ahem, Commune—family, mainly because the hotel offers a free wine tasting every afternoon from 5:30pm to 6pm. Very Kimpton of them, indeed.
But we got more than we bargained for. Yes, the wine was wheeled out on the dot at 5:30, and, sure enough a crowd (comprised mainly of middle-aged Dutch and German couples) began to form there in the Middle Eastern-decorated lobby.
What we weren't anticipating: Theo, one of the hotel's Front Desk agents, setting up in the corner of the lobby with aviator sunglasses, a Yamaha keyboard, and some of the sickest synth beats we've heard since Flight of the Concords was still airing on HBO.
It would be hard to come up with a single genre to classify the strange music we were bopping our heads to, though if we had to pick a word that best sums up the whole experience, it would be this: snazz.
This isn't really news to us but in this recent Forbes article on Thompson Hotels expansion to Mexico, they also mention that Thompson's parent company, Commune Hotels is working on a new budget brand.
We have known since the merger of Thompson and Joie de Vivre that a new brand was in the works but this little tidbit in Forbes is interesting as the new brand will be "one that channels Thompson's hip-and-modern design style."
Exciting! But given that several Thompson hotels can already be had for less than $200 a night, how budget will this new brand be?
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We hope you like these rooms, because there's more of 'em coming!
Yesterday's news of the sixth Thompson Hotel coming to Manhattan was surprising enough but not nearly as surprising as Thompson's expansion plans, which are no doubt being made possible by its new parent company, Commune Hotels and Resorts. (If you aren't up to speed, Thompson and Joie De Vivre Hotels merged back in October and their new parent company, Commune, debuted last month.)
Indeed, the company's CEO Stephen Brandman told us yesterday, "Global expansion will happen before you think." But it seems like it's already here.
Aside from 5 Beekman and the newly opened Thompson Belgraves in London, Thompson Hotels is also running The Sutton Place Hotel in Chicago (which will be relaunched as the Thompson Chicago in late 2013 after renovations) and the Hotel Victor in Miami (which will go by Thompson Ocean Drive after its renovations are finished). But there's even more.
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This morning we speculated that another Ace Hotel is coming to New York City. But surprise, surprise! Instead of the Big Apple getting its second Ace, the city will now be home to SIX Thompson Hotels.
Not long after our story went up this morning, Thompson Hotels, which is a part of Commune Hotels and Resorts, went live with their announcement for the management contract of 5 Beekman, which included a statement from building owner:
“With its deep New York lifestyle hotel experience and growing international presence, we’re delighted to have chosen Thompson Hotels, an operator uniquely suited to capture the building’s inherent drama. We relish the opportunity to transform this one-of-a-kind building and adjacent parcel into a 297 room luxury boutique hotel with 90 residences” said Bruce Blum, president and co-founder of GB Lodging.
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With this morning's announcement of IHG's newest hotel brand, Even Hotels, we started to look at the names of a few other new hotels that have come about in recent years and there's something kinda innnereesting about them. Take a look:
· Even Hotels: The new fitness-conscious brand from InterContinental Hotels. The first Even Hotel will be announced shortly and will open in early 2013.
· Commune Hotels: The new parent company of JDV and Thompson Hotels. Previously, a temporary name of JT Hospitality was being used. Commune plans to announce a new brand later this year.
· Public Hotels: Ian Schrager's new affordable chic hotel brand. The first location opened in Chicago last September (and quickly became one of our fave stays.) A New York location is expected next year.
· Edition Hotels: The brainchild of Schrager and Marriott Hotels opened first in Waikiki but was shut down last year. Another Edition is now open in Istanbul with South Beach, London, New York and Bangkok hotels all coming online "soon."
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[This story has been updated from yesterday's, which was originally posted on 2/21/12 at 3:28pm.]
We've been anxiously anticipating the new name for the newly merged Joie de Vivre Hotels and Thompson Hotels as the temporary name, JT Hospitality, was not very original and also conjured up a line of hotels from Justin Timberlake.
Nevertheless, the wait is over as the announcement comes today that the hotels will now fall under the new company name...COMMUNE HOTELS AND RESORTS. (And yes, the website is already up and running.)
"Our ethos is about individuality, community, locations that are authentic to their environment, and the kind of service that exceeds guests' expectations and makes travel exciting again," the three executives wrote in a statement. "We believe celebrating individuality is the best way to elevate the guest experience."