Power couple behind boutique hotel booking site Mr & Mrs Smith sell for £53million after growing it from a small guidebook to a hugely popular platform which boasts reviews from Stella McCartney, Cate Blanchett and Pandora Sykes
- James and Tamara Lohan, from London, set up Mr & Mrs Smith back in 2003
Back in 2003, James and Tamara Lohan set out with a simple mission: to create the ultimate list of the best romantic getaways for couples.
‘We were the first ones to realise couples aren’t going away to play Scrabble,’ said Mr Lohan, 52. ‘We wanted to rewrite romance and make it cool.’
The couple, from London, began by creating a set of small guidebooks, under the name Mr & Mrs Smith, such as ‘The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms’, but their business quickly expanded.
It soon became a ‘club’ where high-flying individuals could find and book the world’s best ’boutique and luxury hotels’ – as a result Mr and Mrs Lohan raked in millions of pounds.
They sourced out a team of experts and celebrity influencers, including fashion designer Stella McCartney, actress Cate Blanchett, and author Pandora Sykes, who would travel across the globe to stay in the exclusive resorts.
In 2003, Tamara and James Lohan (pictured) set up the travel company Mr & Mrs Smith to create travel guidebooks for couples. It soon became a multi-million-pound business where couples could find and book the world’s best and most luxurious hotels
The now multi-millionaires (pictured at Glastonbury Festival in 2019) met in 1997 in Ibiza, Spain, when Mr Lohan was working as a club promoter and Mrs Lohan was running a dating agency with mother
The globe-trotting couple own 15 per cent of their company, which has just been acquired by US hotel giant Hyatt. Pictured: Mrs Lohan kayaking on Nærøyfjord, in Norway
They would then hand back their honest feedback, including a list of everything that was right and wrong with the accommodation.
What started as a ‘hobby business’ ended up ‘just going nuts’, Mrs Lohan told the Evening Standard back in 2019.
Now, two decades later, the couple have signed a reported £53 million deal with the US hotel giant Hyatt, who have acquired the business which expanded from guidebooks into a ‘club’ to find the world’s best ’boutique and luxury hotels’.
Accounts for the company’s accounts from last year, Mr & Mrs Smith made £128 million in revenue – up £81 million from the year before.
And it’s no surprise. Travel operators have seen a surge in bookings following the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw people increase their savings to splash on holidays once restrictions eased.
In January, a lot of travel companies saw their busiest ever booking period.
Mr and Mrs Lohan owned 15 per cent of their company when the huge deal with Hyatt was signed, with the rest being owned by 191 private and angel investors, as well as 2,206 investors who took part in a crowdfunding round.
The company set up the online donating page in 2018 to attract investors and ended up raising £6.1 million.
The couple, from London, began by creating a set of small guidebooks, under the name Mr & Mrs Smith, such as ‘The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms’, but their business quickly expanded
The couple have now signed a £53 million deal with the US hotel giant Hyatt after expanding their business from guidebooks into a ‘club’ to find the world’s best ’boutique and luxury hotels’
Before setting up the travel company, Mrs Lohan ran a dating agency with her mother. Pictured: Mrs Lohan at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset last year
To review the hotels and villas the couple sourced out experts and celebrity influencers, including fashion designer Stella McCartney (right) and actress Cate Blanchett (left) who would travel across the globe to stay in the exclusive resorts
At the time, they said these funds would help develop its expansion further into the US market, as well as further develop the holiday experience section of their website.
Speaking to The Times today about the new deal, Mrs Lohan said: ‘I haven’t even thought about [the money]. I’ve been so focused on landing this deal successfully and making sure the shareholders are happy.
‘It will sink in at some point. It’s a cliche when people talk about [your business] being your baby but when it’s something that you’ve done every day of your life for 20 years, it’s not just your baby it’s an integral part of your life.
‘And to hand the responsibility of the business over to someone else … is like giving something up.’
She told MailOnline: ‘The acquisition means an exciting new chapter for Mr & Mrs Smith where anything is possible.
‘We can’t wait to explore our new opportunities with one of the world’s most successful and respected hotel brands.’
Mrs Lohan will continue her role as chief executive but will report to the Hyatt’s chief commercial officer mark Vondrasek, and Mr Lohan will keep his role as chief creative officer.
Around 120 of Mr & Mrs’ Smith’s current staff will join the American hotel’s commercial service team.
Mr & Mrs Smith currently has 1.5 million members from all over the world, with Mr Lohan previously joking: ‘It turns out sex and stylish hotels is a global movement.’
The mother and father-of-two, a son Tom, 14, and daughter Ally, 11, decided in 2013 to make their operation more family friendly, launching Mr & Mrs Smith’s family hub, where child-friendly hotels and family-holiday villas are listed.
Accounts for the company’s accounts from last year, Mr & Mrs Smith made £128 million in revenue – up £81 million from the year before
In 2014, James and Tamara Lohan were made Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by King Charles during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, central London
The ‘travel club for lovers’ has 1,000 personally selected boutique hotels and villas on offer from Tuscany, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal to more far away locations such as the Seychelles and the Maldives
The now multi-millionaires met in 1997 in Ibiza, Spain, when Mr Lohan was working as a club promoter and Mrs Lohan was running a dating agency with mother.
Nine years after meeting, and three years after setting up their business, they got married at at an 18th century hotel called Ca’s Xorc in Mallorca, Spain – which now sells on their website from £239 a night.
Mr Lohan had several connections from his previous job in the music industry, where he founded The White House – a DJ venue in Clapham, which has since closed.
The ‘travel club for lovers’ has 1,000 personally selected boutique hotels and villas on offer from Tuscany, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal to more far away locations such as the Seychelles and the Maldives.
The power couple shared the highs and lows of running a business together, living together and travelling together, the Evening Standard reported in 2019.
Mr Lohan admitted there can be ‘some heated conversations’, while Mrs Lohan added: ‘We share in the highs when the business is doing well, and if I’ve had a tough day James just understands.’
MailOnline has contacted the founders and Mr & Mrs Smith for a comment/.
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