New directions—Pacrim and Driftwood

Pacrim announced last month that it would participate in an international joint venture with Driftwood Hospitality Management expected to represent nearly $100 million in hotel real estate.

HALIFAX, NS—Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality Services, spent the better part of a year travelling internationally as chair of the IHG Owners Association, and it changed his view of the world.

“I made a decision to do two things: first, to enjoy the year; and second to use the  year to transition the company,” he said.

During his year as chair, from October 2011 until October 2012, Squires met hundreds of hotel owners from around the world, and was presented with a lot of opportunities.

“There is such a diversity of owners, from individuals to sovereign wealth funds to royalty,” he said.

It’s no accident that Pacrim announced last month that it would participate in a joint venture with Driftwood Hospitality Management. The company is no longer focusing mainly on the Canadian market, but is also looking at the U.S., South America, Central America, and the Middle East.

The Driftwood/Pacrim international joint venture is expected to represent nearly $100 million in hotel real estate. It will target 100- to 300-room full-service and extended stay properties across Canada, the U.S. and select foreign markets.

“[Driftwood and Pacrim] are philosophically similar,” said Squires. Pacrim’s interests in the U.S. in the medium term are focused more on acquisition than development. “We have three hotels in the U.S., and if we increase that platform, it makes sense to partner with someone who has the infrastructure on the ground.”

Brian Quinn, Driftwood’s executive vice president of development has similar sentiments. “Through this partnership, Driftwood is able to enter the Canadian market at an aggressive pace, further leveraging our flexibility and seizing strategic opportunities in real-time,” he said in a release.

Together, the companies have 13,000 rooms with 5,000 employees predominantly in Canada and the U.S. “Our experience is on this side of the border,” Squires said.

While Pacrim has concentrated on limited service properties such as Super 8s and Hampton Inns over the past 10 years, Squires’ roots are in full service, and he would like to go back to having more of these types of properties. “There are not a lot of them being built and the barriers to entry are higher,” he noted.

He also sees a role for extended stay properties, particularly in the economy sector. “We have the only Candlewood in Canada and there’s a wide open market in Canada for that product,” he said.

With three properties already in the pipeline, the Driftwood/Pacrim JV will initially target new-build developments in several of Canada’s emerging areas, including:

  • Kingswood, Fredericton, NB 
  • Bedford/Halifax, NS
  • Argentia, NL 
  • St. John’s, NL 
  • Goose Bay, NL 
  • Golden, BC 

International deals are also underway for Pacrim and Driftwood.

Pacrim has recently entered agreements for the development of a 250-room InterContinental Hotel at Muscat Hill Golf and Country Club and a luxury seaside resort in Muscat, Oman. 

In addition Squires noted that Carlos Rodriguez, executive vice president of Driftwood is looking at properties in Costa Rica.