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Firm Struggling To Convert NYC's Waldorf Astoria To Condos Eyes $1.3B Sale Of U.S. Resorts

The Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Arizona

The Chinese developer revamping the storied Waldorf Astoria in New York City is hoping to sell three large resorts in its 15-asset luxury portfolio for a combined 10-figure sum.

Dajia Insurance Group Co., which took control of Anbang Insurance Group's bloated U.S. portfolio, is looking for buyers for the Montage in Laguna Beach, California, the Four Seasons resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Arizona, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources.

The assets are part of the company’s luxury U.S. resorts and hotels portfolio, which stems from Anbang's acquisition of the Strategic Hotels & Resorts portfolio from Blackstone in 2016 for $5.5B, as part of its rampant American expansion. The company was seized by the Chinese government in 2017 after its chairman was arrested and charged with corruption.

The company then began marketing 15 hotels and resorts, which includes the JW Essex House hotel in Manhattan and InterContinental Hotels in Chicago and Miami.

The Waldorf Astoria was never part of the package, and the U.S. subsidiary of Dajia Insurance Group Co., a company the Chinese government created in 2019, is continuing its revamp of the famed property. However, development cost has spiraled to $2B, and the project’s CEO departed earlier this year.

In 2019, South Korea’s Mirae Asset Financial Group had agreed to pay $5.8B for the portfolio, but the deal went south in the hospitality fallout of the pandemic.  Anbang sued Mirae to try to force the sale, but after a trial, a Delaware judge ruled in December 2020 that the Chinese firm had to refund Mirae's $582M deposit, with interest.

Nearly two years later, Dajia is trying to sell off a piece of the portfolio amid a jump in leisure travel that has spurred a quicker-than-expected recovery for the hotel industry.

“The mass affluent consumer has been fortunate to have higher savings and job security,” said Eric Resnick, who is the CEO of KSL Capital Partners, an investment firm based in Denver that owns 400 resorts, hotels, ski areas and other leisure businesses worldwide. “That demographic drives travel and leisure broadly. We don’t see that going away.”

Dajia is aiming to score $300M each from the Four Seasons assets and $700M from the Montage Laguna Beach, the WSJ reported.