Hospitality | Tourism 2023: BRUCE L. THOMPSON
CEO, GOLD KEY | PHR, VIRGINIA BEACH
A Norfolk native and Virginia Business’ 2021 Person of the Year, Thompson is one of Hampton Roads’ most prominent developers and hoteliers. He is best known for developing the Cavalier Resort, which includes the restored historic Cavalier Hotel as well as two new hotels, restaurants and residences on 21 acres at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
The $435 million project is the culmination of nearly four decades of work by Thompson to reposition Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads — an area once referred to as the “Redneck Riviera” — into an exclusive area with high-end hotels and residences.
Thompson opened his first hotel in the early 1980s. Under the name Professional Hospitality Resources (PHR), Thompson’s hotel empire grew. He founded Gold Key as a timeshare company, along with marketing and finance companies to assist with timeshare sales. Gold Key | PHR reports annual revenues exceeding $140 million and employs more than 2,400 people.
As a young man, Thompson worked as a night watchman and mowed the lawn at the Cavalier Hotel. In recent years, the longtime political insider has chaired inauguration committees for governors on both sides of the aisle.