Long-time real-estate developer Tuckey Devlin and his business partner Matthew Weld entered into a contract with the Ernest Hemingway estate and business entity, Hemingway, Ltd., back in 2005 and began to develop Hemingway Hotels & Resorts, a brand of unique properties based on the famous author's adventurous life. But during the industry's recent downturn, plans became unsustainable, and the company unraveled in early 2011.
But now, Hemingway Hotels is back in business and in the midst of a large-scale relaunch that is already gaining momentum and showing promise. This time around, Devlin and his team believe they're poised for unprecedented growth.
"We believe that adventure and cultural tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry," says Devlin, who serves as president of the company. "People want to emulate and experience the same kind of lifestyle that Hemingway has made iconic, and we are uniquely qualified to fill the demand."
The hotels under the Hemingway flagship will consist of both re-purposed and new-build properties in locations directly related to Hemingway's life and lifestyle. Hemingway was known as a deep-sea fisherman, a big-game huntsman, and a traveler who enjoyed many of the world's most-famous metropolitan cities. Hemingway Hotels & Resorts will strive to bring those facets of the author's life into its guest offerings.
"The experiences we offer will always depend specifically on where the property is located," says Devlin, who plans to work with local businesses and companies to give each property a unique geographic flavor.
Each hotel will feature signature adventure experiences. Devlin has plans to offer "strictly supervised" and "ecologically-friendly" hunting and deep-sea fishing excursions at a few properties, as well as other outdoor sports such as skiing, hiking and water sports.
Other locales will cater to the culinary delights of a region, using ingredients and cooking techniques from a specific area.
And many people, familiar with Hemingway or not, know that the man had an affinity for alcohol. So, Devlin is setting out to make the bars at the Hemingway properties a drawing point for both guests and locals.
"There's no denying that Hemingway was a lover of spirits," says Devlin. "Fact is, we expect to have some of the best damn bars anywhere."
Some planned locations for Hemingway Hotels & Resorts include Idaho, the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, Idaho, Bahamas, Florida Keys, South Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula. Devlin is also in talks with a developer from Michigan who has a historic property up for redevelopment, and he also has interest from a developer in Kansas City who is hoping to speak with representatives from the Hemingway brand about a potential opportunity.
Devlin explains that once the announcement was made about the brand relaunching, he and his colleagues were inundated with requests from developers and property owners.
"Since the announcement, we've been deluged with phone calls from people with projects that they feel are perfect for our brand," he says. "It has been a very satisfying confirmation that our concept is valid."
Although there is no specific date yet as to when the first Hemingway Hotel & Resorts property will open, Devlin believes it could be a soon as a matter of months. He said that he can "virtually guarantee" that the first hotel will be opened within a year.
"There are a couple of locations that I would call 'easily repositioned assets,'" says Devlin. "With a new financier and a new investment with our brand, these properties have the opportunity to become Hemingways in short order."
Devlin believes that the growth of the company could skyrocket in the next few years and feels that growth will be at a faster rate than the brand's current business plan allows.
"Our plan calls for one property a year for many years," he says. "But with the interest and excitement that has been generated since we've relaunched, we're already seriously looking at over a dozen projects."