As VP of acquisitions and development for Two Roads Hospitality, Rika Lisslö has a lot of avenues to choose from when it comes to deciding what type of properties are a good fit for the operator of independent hotels, resorts and vacation residences under such well-known lifestyle brands as Joie de Vivre, Thompson, Destination, tommie and Alila Hotels & Resorts.
Lisslö said coming aboard Two Roads, a joint venture between Lowe Enterprises and San Francisco-based Geolo Capital, held appeal for her, citing the JV’s partners as invested in growing and strengthening each brand.
“While still relatively new, Two Roads Hospitality is a multi-brand platform that features an unrivaled collection of truly individual hotels that cater to guests’ personal journeys,” noted the executive. “We’re distinguished in the industry through our continued commitment to personalization, individuality and the flexibility of choice for our guests, employees and owners.”
Making a lateral move in October from Dream Hotel Group, Lisslö saw distinct opportunity to bring her talents into play. “I have a passion for lifestyle brands and a strong understanding of real estate. At Two Roads, I am confident we will move the needle by growing each of our brands through exposure to my vast network of owners, developers and capital providers, coupled with my deep understanding of branding and the development process.”
Lisslö also has more than a decade of experience as a real estate executive with a focus on mixed-use development across the hospitality, retail, office and restaurant sectors. She also spent time with JF Capital Advisors as managing director, with a focus on hospitality.
In looking across the Two Roads’ portfolio, she commented the concentration on growth spans all the brands; however, she stressed, “We approach each of our brands differently, as they are all independent with their own target customer, clear positioning and loyal following.”
For example, Thompson Hotels’ growth is focused on major global markets, rapidly growing secondary markets where there’s an emerging or thriving creative class and technology presence, and select resort destinations, said Lisslö. Similarly, as a collection of design-driven, independently branded boutique properties, Joie de Vivre “has tremendous expansion potential” in primary, secondary and even tertiary markets domestically and internationally, she added.
“Destination Hotels’ growth is focused on major resort and urban-resort markets throughout the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, while Alila Hotels & Resorts is focused on international luxury destinations, and recently expanded to the U.S. with the opening of Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort,” Lisslö said.
The growth of tommie is focused on “urban cultural centers worldwide where real estate is at a premium. Our first tommie hotel will open in Hollywood, CA, and is projected to debut in early 2019,” said the executive.
Right now, there are more than 80 existing properties under Two Roads Hospitality’s management. There are 17 properties within the Joie de Vivre portfolio, nine Thompson Hotels, 26 Destination Hotels and 11 Destination Residences, and 12 Alila Hotels & Resorts, as well as one yacht under the Alila brand.
“Within the past year, we have opened Hotel 50 Bowery, a Joie de Vivre Hotel in New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood (the brand’s first hotel in New York), as well as Ventana Big Sur, Alila Hotels & Resort’s first property in North America; Alila Fort Bishangarh in Jaipur, India, housed in a 230-year-old defensive fortress in the Aravalli hills of Rajasthan; and Alila Yangshuo, located in a former working sugar mill, set among the Karst Mountains in China,” detailed Lisslö. “In 2018, Joie de Vivre will debut Revival at Mount Vernon Place, located in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon neighborhood, and Alila will welcome five new properties across Asia, including Alila Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur and Alila SCBD in Jakarta, Indonesia.”
The VP said there are a variety of growth paths, ranging from new-build sites to management takeovers. Baltimore’s Revival, a Joie de Vivre Hotel, as well as Thompson Hollywood and tommie Hollywood, are all new-builds. Expected to launch in 2019, Thompson Dallas at The Drever, a redevelopment, will be the luxury lifestyle brand’s foray into Texas, followed by new-builds in San Antonio and Houston.
Lisslö is confident in her ability to effect change at Two Roads.
“In addition to my background in real estate, capital markets and my track record of sourcing and executing deals, I have a deep understanding of branding. My ability to build brand recognition through my vast international network enables me to showcase these brands to a broader array of owners, developers and capital providers, giving the brands maximum exposure,” she said.
Lisslö shared, “I will take any opportunity to travel and check out hotels… I love what I do, and I feel very fortunate to work in an industry that I can enjoy in my free time.” HB