Hotel Online Special Report



Bill Kimpton, Founder and Chairman of 
Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, Dies

SAN FRANCISCO, April 1, 2001-- Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, LLC is extremely sad to announce the passing of its founder, namesake, friend and chairman Bill Kimpton. 

Mr. Kimpton died Friday, March 30, 2001 at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston from complications of leukemia.  He had been battling the disease since July and passed peacefully surrounded by his family.  Mr. Kimpton was 65 years old. 

With the purchase of his first hotel, the Bedford in San Francisco, in 1981, Mr. Kimpton established himself as an innovator in the industry.  Convinced that the average consumer was frustrated by a choice between hotels that were either overly pricey and luxurious or else bland and generic, he introduced the concept of “selling sleep” in the form of small, European-style hotels, often with high-profile restaurants attached.  His prototype of a tasteful, moderately priced “boutique” hotel has been widely 

Bill Kimpton
1935 - 2001
emulated.  Today, the Kimpton Group owns or manages 35 hotels and 29 restaurants and employs more than 5,000 people nationwide.

“Bill transformed an industry. He was the ultimate optimist and seer of good in others,” said Thomas W. LaTour, chief executive officer of the Kimpton Group. “We are all very saddened by his death but committed to honoring his memory by continuing his good work.” 

Born in 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri, William Drennon Kimpton moved to Chicago with his mother and stepfather, Lawrence Kimpton, who became chancellor of the University of Chicago in the 1950s.  After graduating from Northwestern University, he joined the Army and later began his career as a typewriter salesman for IBM in Chicago.  He became an investment banker in New York and moved to San Francisco in 1969 as the manager of Lehman Brothers (now Shearson-Lehman Brothers American Express, Inc.).  During these years, he helped finance a number of high-profile projects, including the Kapalua Bay Resort hotel in Maui and Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose expansion from a $2 million company to a behemoth that eventually sold for $275 million.  He also worked closely with developer Harry Helmsley to finance his renovation of the Palace Hotel in New York.

Mr. Kimpton’s interest in the nexus of spirituality, psychology and mental health led him to serve on the boards of the Hoffman Institute and the Spirit Rock Meditation Center.  Once during an interview with Success magazine, he stressed his belief that in America, success was overly tied to earning money.  Real success, he said, came from devoting oneself fully to family and friends.  “In that sense,” he said, “I have been partially successful.”

Mr. Kimpton founded the Mental Insight Foundation in 1996 and has funded a number of research projects into various forms of mental illness.  The Foundation has particular interest in treating depression using therapy and meditation as alternatives to simply using prescription drugs.

A zealous golfer, Mr. Kimpton participated for the past four years in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf tournament.  Mr. Kimpton held a Bachelors of Science in Economics from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the University of Chicago Lab School.  He is survived by his wife Isabelle Kimpton; his children Marcia Kimpton, Jennifer Egan, Laura Dell’ Amico Kimpton and Graham Kimpton; and his grandchildren Drennon Pruett, Kiley Kimpton Dell’ Amico and Emmanuel Herskowits.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Mental Insight Foundation, c/o Kimpton Group, 222 Kearny Street, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94122.  A San Francisco memorial to honor Mr. Kimpton is being planning for late April.


Kimpton Group
Sara Ledoux
Director of Public Relations 
(415) 955-5406

Also See Ben D. Marcus, Founder of The Marcus Corporation, Dies at 89 / Dec 2000 
Curtis L. Carlson, Founder and Chairman of Carlson Companies - an International Leader in Hospitality and Travel Services - Dies at Age 84 / Feb 1999

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