Starwood targets Florida for 10 specialty-select hotels

Aloft Sarasota
The 139-room Aloft Sarasota, which opened earlier this month, is owned by a joint venture between JWM One Palm Avenue, LLC and iStar Financial.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is planning to open 10 specialty hotels in the next three years, according to the Miami Herald.

Five of the new openings — four Aloft brand hotels and one Four Points by Sheraton hotel — will open in Miami-Dade County throughout 2017 in Coral Gables, Aventura, Weston and near Miami International Airport.

Three are slated for Fort Lauderdale — one Aloft hotel, one Four Points hotel and one Element hotel — with openings in December 2016, 2017 and 2019. Two hotels will open in Delray Beach in Palm Beach County and Gainesville in north-central Florida in 2018, the Herald reported.

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The additions will bring Starwood’s hotel count in Florida to 31. The chain operates more than 300 hotels worldwide.

Earlier this month, Starwood announced that it opened an Aloft hotel in Sarasota, Fla. Owned by a joint venture between JWM One Palm Avenue, LLC and iStar Financial, Aloft Sarasota features 139 rooms, an outdoor Splash pool, 24-hour fitness center and 610 square feet of flexible meeting space. Guests can grab a quick snack at re:fuel at Aloft – a one-stop gourmet grab & go food and beverage area—or enjoy the latest in local, live music at the brand’s WXYZ bar.

“Florida is one of the fastest-growing markets in North America for Starwood’s specialty select brands, propelled by strong demand for the distinct offerings of Aloft, Four Points and Element in dynamic destinations across the state,” said Brian McGuinness, global brand leader for Starwood’s specialty brands, according to the Herald.

Although the plan is to grow in Florida, Starwood might be selling some of its top-branded hotels in other locations. HOTEL MANAGEMENT reported on Friday that according to Bloomberg, the company "may be in talks" to sell high-end properties like the St. Regis New York. CEO Tom Mangas said that the initiative is geared toward finding buyers this year for its remaining hotels.

On Starwood’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call Thursday, Mangas said that sovereign-wealth funds and insurance companies "continue to have a strong appetite for hotels in gateway cities as they seek to diversify their holdings." When asked about the prospect of selling assets—including the St. Regis in Manhattan and the Westin Maui Resort & Spa—he declined to comment in detail. “I don’t want to comment too much about where valuations are or will be because we might be working on trying to lock down specific valuations,” he said during the call. 

Mangas also noted that Starwood is focused on selling North American and European properties, while economic conditions in Latin America pose challenges for sales in that region. Starwood has 19 hotels valued at about $800 million left to sell, excluding five worth about $200 million that are part of the planned spinoff of its timeshare business, he said. 

Marriott International and Starwood announced that their separate stockholder meetings to approve the previously announced combination transactions have been scheduled for March 28. Marriott International announced in November that it planned to buy Starwood in a $12.2-billion stock-and-cash deal.

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