Hottest Hotel Projects
Talk to anybody in hospitality and they've got a hot project in the works. We did just that, and it has us revved up for our next event: LA Hotel Boom: A Race to the Top, this Friday, Nov. 7, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles. Find out who's buying, who's developing, and how deals are getting financed. Continental breakfast and networking start at 8am sharp. (Sign up today!)
This morning, Sonnenblick Development principal Bob Sonnenblick (in full Halloween mode before trick-or-treating with his kids in Pacific Palisades) told us about his newest resort hotel project: Chambers Bay Resort in University Place, WA, a 30-minute drive from Sea-Tac Airport. What's key for Bob, an avid golfer, is that next June, it's going to be the home course of the 2015 US Open, where it will be seen by 300 million people on TV. Bob's building a 320-room luxury hotel with a 40k SF conference center and a 10k SF spa, with a second golf course that will front directly on Puget Sound. The new course is being designed by the famed Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Bob says Chambers Bay is a $125M project. The hotel will be raised, so that people can look through the glass on the first floor and still enjoy the views (including the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains). He's also working on a hotel site in the hot market of downtown Beverly Hills. Bob just got back from the best vacation of his life: two weeks in Phuket, Thailand.
Chartres Lodging Group president Maki Nakamura Bara (with CEO Rob Kline) says now is one of those unique times where people in the hotel biz want to do everything from sell to refi to buy. In June, Chartres sold the 34-story hotel Novotel New York Times Square and also sold the Hyatt Regency St. Louis in downtown St. Louis (at the famous Arch). On the buy side, the company expects to close on a hotel in Houston at the Galleria and this year bought the Radisson Blu in Philadelphia. Chartres also is in the design stage on its first "pure" adaptive re-use project: an office building in Waikiki being converted to a hotel. She's got a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter, so free time is spent cheering their activities. In addition, Maki's in two fantasy football leagues, and for the first time ever, she's chagrined to be dead last.
InterContinental Hotels Group VP Bobby Molinary, another of our panelists, will be coming in from Colorado for our event. IHG's working on a number of projects, but two he singles out are the recently completed renovation of the Crowne Plaza in Redondo Beach (above) and the Crowne Plaza at LAX, nearing completion. Bobby lives in Denver and is gearing up for the snowboard season--he's teaching the sport to his three kids.
Arent Fox partner Rich Brand, who will be one of our moderators, recently did a deal for the very first Canopy by Hilton, a new boutique brand, in a JV with Federal Realty Investment Trust. Rich tells us numerous clients are buying land for ground-up development or purchasing existing hotels, and franchise brands are expanding into new product areas. He's also been doing a lot of JVs and debt financings for hotel acquisitions. Rich relocated to San Francisco from DC last year, but right now he's on his way to LA. It's Parents'/Homecoming Weekend at UCLA. He'll visit his son, who's a student there, and hopefully watch the Bruins beat Arizona.
Homeier & Law partner Michael Homeier will also be featured at our event. He's pictured in Yu Yuan Market in Shanghai (next to a local Starbucks, of course). He's helping to finance hotel developments nationwide through the EB-5 program. Almost all of the money to build the Marriott Courtyard/Residence Inn across from the Ritz-Carlton at LA Live came from EB-5 investors. According to Michael, 75% of the EB-5 investors are coming out of China, the result of a well-organized infrastructure to reach them. Michael just got back from his first visit to Charleston, SC, and has high praise for both Southern hospitality and Southern food. For some Bisnow hospitality, and lots more information about hotels in LA, join us Friday, Nov. 7 at 8am for our LA Hotel Boom event. (Sign up here.)