June 2, 2005--Two months after being named one of the 26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, Tom LaTour secured $157 million in financing for his company, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.
The Yale University endowment fund, a fund that is worth about $13 billion, chipped in the money and with it picked up a 22% stake in the tightly held, $400 million boutique hotel and restaurant chain.
"It's an exceptional company," Tomas Callahan, co-CEO of PKF Consulting, a lodging industry research firm, said. "They are extremely creative and have now gone from a regional boutique hotel chain to a national presence. Tom deserves credit for that."
According to the Wall Street Journal, LaTour plans to balloon this initial investment into $450 million worth of properties in five years -- hopefully doubling the size of the 24-year old company. How? The plan, as laid out by Mike Depatie, the chief executive of real estate and development for Kimpton, is to use the money to build 10 new hotels, and when that fund is gone, "we'll do another fund," he said.
LaTour, a travel industry veteran who took over four years ago when the company's founder Bill Kimpton died, added his own personal touch to the boutique hotel chain. Known for his gentle touch with off-the-beaten path locales, LaTour does his due diligence on potential Kimpton properties by staying overnight to get a feel for the amenities and by personally checking what he calls his "pet peeve": drain stops.
"The culture of an enterprise is a reflection of the people at the top," LaTour said.
With 39 properties in 17 cities across the country, LaTour paints a simple picture of Kimpton's strategy for expansion: "There are 30-odd cities on USA Today's weather map for a reason," he chirps. "Those are where the business travelers are. I want a Kimpton hotel in each one."