Charleston billionaire new co-owner of Hincapie brothers’ Hotel Domestique

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Hotel Domestique. Photo provided.

Hotel Domestique and Restaurant 17 in Travelers Rest have a new co-owner who will help the boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant grow, say managing partners George and Rich Hincapie.

Charleston billionaire Ben Navarro, CEO of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group, has partnered with the Hincapie brothers to buy out the former unnamed majority partner in the property. The sale closed mid-March.

Navarro made headlines last year when he made a bid for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and also in 2018, he purchased the Volvo Car Open, a premier Women’s Tennis Association event held each spring.

George, retired professional cyclist, and Rich, CEO of Hincapie Sportswear, will continue to oversee the 30-acre property located at 10 Road of Vines, between downtown Travelers Rest and Asheville, on a daily basis.

The Hincapies opened Hotel Domestique, formerly La Bastide, in 2013 as a 13-room destination reflective of their European travels and geared towards the cycling community.

The two will continue to run their award-winning events from the hotel, including the Gran Fondo Hincapie-Greenville ride, which brings more than 2,000 cyclists to the Greenville area each fall, as well as Experience Domestique, a high-end cycling camp series led by George Hincapie and other professional cyclists.

“I look forward to having Ben as a partner,” says George Hincapie. “Since his first visit to the hotel I could see his appreciation for our overall vision for the property. We have some of the best cycling routes in the country right off our doorstep, and the picturesque property is an ideal venue for retreats and weddings. Ben sees that and shares our vision.”

The friendship between Navarro and George Hincapie began years ago when Navarro visited Hotel Domestique for the first time as an amateur cycler and someone who is passionate about the sport. Hincapie calls that meeting a “serendipitous moment,” and the two remained in touch. In November of 2018 they began officially discussing the possibility of a financial partnership.

In the next year, the group plans to explore new opportunities to further enhance the property and experience for all guests — cyclists and non-cyclists — including more unique cycling experiences, as well as opportunities for corporate groups, retreats, and events.

Hincapie says the goal, with Navarro’s partnership and interest in health and wellness, is to continue to grow that customer base both internationally and locally.

“The property has a very bright future,” he says. “This is a legacy property for South Carolina.”

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