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Gemstone Selected for Two Resorts

Gemstone Resorts International, a leading resort management company that specializes in managing and asset managing four- and five-diamond unique urban hotels and lifestyle resort projects, today announced that it has signed management contracts with the historic Warwick Hotel in Houston Texas, which will be reflagged as the Hotel ZaZa Houston, and the 63-room Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in Sausalito, Calif.

“Both of these hotels are unique properties that fit well into our management strategy of targeting boutique hotels in destination markets,” said Mark van Hartesvelt, Gemstone Resorts principal. “We believe that our value-added approach to management and proprietary operating systems, tailored positioning and marketing programs are well-suited to both of these properties and will result in a significant repositioning at both properties.”

Hotel ZaZa Houston

Located at 5701 Main Street, in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the Warwick Hotel features 308 rooms. Opened in 1926, the hotel has been recognized as one of Houston’s premier hotels for decades.

Following an extensive renovation, which is scheduled to commence late summer 2005, the Warwick will re-open in spring 2006 as the Hotel ZaZa Houston. It will join the highly successful Hotel ZaZa Dallas as the second hotel to be affiliated with the cutting-edge luxury boutique brand created by Givens-Records Enterprises founder, Charles Givens. The Hotel ZaZa Dallas has become one of Dallas’ most highly acclaimed hotels under Gemstone management. The hotel’s accolades include the AAA 4-Diamond Award, CondeNast Traveler’s 2003 Hot List of Boutique Hotels and’s Top 10 Business Hotels in the World. Givens-Records Enterprises and Gemstone currently are seeking locations for future ZaZa hotel projects.


“Upon its successful refurbishment, the Hotel ZaZa Houston will be geared towards chic travelers and local residents of discerning taste,” said Jeff McIntyre, Gemstone principal. “Our goal is to restore the dignity and reputation of this classic property while making it competitive for the 21st century, and to create a new standard of luxury hotel experience in the Houston market.”

“We seek to become a memorable, immediately recognized, international hotel upon reopening, just as we did when we launched the Hotel ZaZa in Dallas,” added McIntyre. “We do not intend to make this a ‘cookie cutter’ hotel that looks exactly the Dallas ZaZa. On the contrary, this hotel will retain the best elements of its past, mixed with the best of the future. In addition, as a ZaZa hotel, it will have unique components that will set the hotel apart from any other in the city.”

van Hartesvelt noted that the company will look at every square foot of the Houston hotel, inside and out, for opportunities to showcase the hotel’s future luxury designation. Preliminary plans call for renovating all of the guest rooms, public space, meeting rooms, and the addition of a number of ZaZa’s signature suites and a world-class restaurant. “A lavish destination spa is planned, to be complemented by a full-service health club. The adjacent elegant pool area will be enhanced with design elements that add some South Beach flair and excitement,” he said.

A yet-to-be-named celebrity chef will be brought in to assist in conceptualizing the expanded restaurant and outdoor dining venue. The goal is to create a singular, distinctive restaurant offering that uniquely identifies the hotel, while attracting a large local following, similar to the popularity of the Dragonfly restaurant in the Hotel ZaZa Dallas.

Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa

“As asset manager of this property since 2001, we have played a strong role in creating the hotel’s positioning,” McIntyre said. “We believe that through targeted marketing and a tighter focus on select travel segments, such as small groups and social catering, we can make an immediate impact on the bottom line. Gemstone was instrumental in the hotel’s successful leasing of Poggio, named by Esquire as one of the 21 best new restaurants in the U.S. We look forward to further strengthening the relationship between the hotel and Poggio. We will seek out other unique operating and marketing opportunities to enhance the value of the property in the future.”

Gemstone will work closely with the owners to re-evaluate the property and seek opportunities to generate additional revenue for the hotel. Preliminary plans call for a significant upgrading and renovation of the guest rooms, as well as conversion of the former Mikayla Restaurant to suites offering spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.

Nestled into a hillside overlooking San Francisco Bay, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa combines vintage architecture with modern hospitality and Golden Gate charm. With a total of 63 rooms, including seven suites, Casa Madrona Hotel features 32 Victorian-styled accommodations and 31 contemporary rooms with warm, residential furnishings, 19 of which feature private balconies overlooking the Sausalito waterfront. The hotel provides meeting space for groups ranging from two to 150, a full-service spa, a plethora of local activities, and the unequaled cuisine of Poggio Restaurant. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Casa Madrona holds the record for the oldest mansion in Sausalito.