Calling it a “once in a lifetime acquisition,” Alex Kirkwood recently bolstered his company’s collection of historic hotels in California with the addition of Seven Gables Inn on Monterey Bay.
Kirkwood—CEO of the family owned and operated Kirkwood Collection—went on to refer to the newly acquired coastal resort as the “crown jewel” of the company’s portfolio, which now includes six luxury boutique properties.
Kirkwood touted the benefits of the recent addition for the company.
“It’s a complete game changer for us. It’s a huge moral boost after a really tough year-and-a-half. It’s a really special property and I’m really proud of it. There’s a great deal of responsibility that comes with it; a real obligation to what came before me on this one,” he said.
The CEO noted that the company went to look at the property on the Monterey coastline at the request of the sellers last May during the pandemic and the rest is history.
“We went out to take a look and we were just blown away. We rarely find another hotelier with the attention to detail that we strive for. Their operations were just incredible and their staff was amazing, down to every little detail. This was right up our alley,” he said, adding he was particularly impressed with the antique craftmanship of things like the door handles and hinges, for example.
The property—which includes three seven separate structures on nearly a half-acre of land—was originally built in 1886 and eventually converted from a mansion to a luxury inn in 1982 by the Flatley family. Over the decades, the Flatley’s acquired adjacent parcels growing the hotel to 25 keys, including two guest cottages. Kirkwood noted all of the property’s rooms have views of the ocean and coastal mountains.
Kirkwood could not disclose the price of the acquisition, but it reportedly sold for approximately $14.5 million, according to The Sacramento Bee. Kirkwood, however, emphasized that the deal was more about similarities in operating philosophies between the two companies than price.
“It’s more about one family taking over the property and not an institution or someone who’s outside the hotel industry,” he said, noting the Flatley family carefully vetted potential suitors and “were really big fans of ours.”
Kirkwood emphasized that the hotel has a very loyal following with a guest book of some 40 years and current bookings as far as a year-and-a-half out. “There’s a legacy that we’re kind of inheriting and trying to be loyal to and maintain. So the guest following and passion for this property is a cool responsibility to have…That’s a new thing for us,” he said.
He noted that the company would spend the next year really getting to know the property before considering any changes, such as a soft goods renovation, for example. In addition, 100 percent of the existing staff will be retained, according to Kirkwood.
“Basically, the goal upon acquisition was to maintain what the Flatley’s had built over 40 years and carry it forward and integrate it with what we do. How do we maintain that while being loyal to their existing following and bringing it into the fray of our new following?” he said.
The Kirkwood Collection’s other properties are located in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and San Luis Obispo. The Garden Street Inn—located in downtown San Luis Obispo—was the company’s latest addition prior to Seven Gables.
Kirkwood particularly liked how the new property fits in with the rest of the portfolio noting it’s a “little trail” throughout California. He further added the company’s portfolio now represents a comprehensive destination, particularly for international travelers.
“A lot of people come and stay for three weeks and they travel up and down the coast. Our goal is to have that coastal experience. They can stay at very unique properties and they’ll never stay at the same kind of place twice,” said Kirkwood.