A hospitality services provider with a storied history is expanding its reach into the senior living industry with joint venture acquisitions, as it aims to outpace the competition by striking the right balance of care and service.
Guest Services has provided dining, housekeeping and maintenance services for senior housing communities across the country since the 1970s, but it was not until last year that it formed a subsidiary, Guest Services Senior Living, specifically dedicated to the industry, CEO Barry Trice told Senior Housing News.
Last month, Naples, Florida-based Guest Services Senior Living partnered with Denver-based real estate investment company NorthStar Commercial Partners to acquire and rebrand Vista Gardens, a gated memory care community in Vista, California.
The company also provides hospitality services at The Cove, an assisted living and memory care facility within The Marbella at Pelican Bay, a Guest Services-owned community in Naples, Florida.
To spearhead this growth, Guest Services Senior Living hired Shawn Rose as its vice president of operations last month. Rose was most recently a regional director of operations at large Chicago-based provider Senior Lifestyle Corporation. A 20-year industry veteran, Rose has worked with Capital Senior Living, Brandywine Living and Sunrise Senior Living.
A century of hospitality experience
Guest Services has a storied history in hospitality. The company launched in 1917 as Government Services, providing meals and housing for military draftees during World War I, Trice told SHN.
Government Services eventually provided dining and housekeeping services for a host of government departments throughout its early history including the State Department, Census Bureau and the National Park Service, while operating as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
In the 1970s, the company was declared a government dining monopoly, opening the door for other businesses to bid on government hospitality contracts. Government Services, meanwhile, rebranded as Guest Services, dissolved its nonprofit status and began seeking out private sector business.
“Today, private business accounts for around 70% of our business,” Trice said.
The company made small inroads into real estate development and acquisition in the 1990s with the construction of a couple hotels, and now has a diverse portfolio of properties it owns outright, others where it has a joint venture partnership, and even more where it provides only hospitality services.
Guest Services has been involved in senior living for nearly 40 years. Five years ago, it recognized the potential for further growth by entering the clinical sphere and seeking out investment and management opportunities.
“We anticipate future growth with companies like NorthStar that have the capital to build or buy, but want the in-house expertise we provide to operate the business,” Rose said.
In addition to The Cove and Vista Gardens, Guest Services Senior Living provides hospitality services for 10 facilities across the U.S. including Redmond, Washington-based Emerald Communities; Moorings Park in Naples, Florida; and Knightsbridge Retirement Community in Atlanta.
Guest Services’ background and institutional knowledge in hospitality is where it hopes to separate itself from operators struggling to balance care with service. The company believes the hospitality component is lacking in senior living and that it wants to provide the highest level of service, regardless of acuity level and physical ability, Rose told SHN.
For Guest Services Senior Living, that can mean offering a range of options for people with dietary restrictions, concierge services for residents and family members, and resort-style experiences that make residents feel as though they are the most important people in the room.
On the clinical side, Guest Services Senior Living also believes it can provide wellness, leverage technology and increase engagement without losing sight of the hospitality component.
“One executive director told me, ‘we are the Joneses everyone wants to keep up with,’” Rose said.
Vista Gardens is an example of Guest Services Senior Living’s future growth, Trice told SHN. The company wants to continually reinvest in its platform to support its investor partners, staff, residents and their families. And if the operations perform at a top level, it will attract more like-minded investors for future acquisitions.
“We’re truly willing to grow modestly if we’re growing ourselves right. We don’t want to overextend ourselves,” Trice said.