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Redefining Luxury Hospitality And Branded Residential With An Eye On Sustainability And Community

A rendering of Six Senses Grand Bahama

While many real estate asset classes have struggled to recover from the shifts brought on by the pandemic, the luxury hospitality and branded residential sectors are showing signs of growth and long-term stability.

According to a recent report from IMARC Group, the luxury hotel market reached nearly $105B in 2022. This trend is expected to continue with the market increasing to over $137B by 2028. With the downturn of the office market and the rebound of tourism, developers see the potential in changing their models to include luxury hospitality and branded residential

Weller Development Partners, a real estate development firm headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, began shifting its focus to more luxury hospitality and branded residential projects prior to the pandemic. Today, Weller Development Partners continues to expand into this market, but with an increased focus on the environmental and social impact its projects are making on the communities where it builds. 

“We were coming out of a period when the office market was really hot, and due to the pandemic, the markets were shifting right before our eyes,” said Marc Weller, founding partner of Weller Development Partners. “We felt that transitioning to more luxury hospitality and branded residential developments would be the best fit for our company’s evolution, and it turned out that our thesis was correct.”

One of Weller Development’s first luxury hotel projects was the Sagamore Pendry, a 125-key luxury hotel built in 2017 in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Fells Point neighborhood. Although the Sagamore Pendry was recognized as the No. 1 hotel in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler’s readers in 2018, this project was just scratching the surface of the company’s luxury hospitality market potential, Weller said.

Concurrent with the development of the Sagamore Pendry, the Weller team developed and constructed one of the largest urban revitalization projects in the U.S., Baltimore Peninsula, formerly known as Port Covington. The project financing closed, construction commenced and the first five buildings amassing 1.1M SF of new development were completed during the pandemic when most projects were halted or suspended indefinitely.

“It was a very challenging project to deliver, but thanks to our entrepreneurial culture, determination and incredible team, we were able to meet our construction and community commitments and close the deal in December 2020,” Weller said. “The years of hard work were worth it to complete something truly transformational for Baltimore, despite the supply chain delays, increased construction costs and the ongoing health concerns brought on by the pandemic.”

Weller said he was proud of this project for many reasons, but he feels most proud of the thousands of jobs created, and the tens of millions of dollars given back to the community throughout the life of the project. It also gave Weller Development the spark it needed to create an international reputation and a springboard into the luxury hospitality and branded residential market. 

Weller added that the company approaches each project with community and sustainability in mind to benefit both the investors and cities where the company operates. 

“We have a triple-bottom-line approach, which means that while we recognize projects need to be financially viable and generate returns for our investors, we also feel that they need to positively impact the surrounding communities, and should heavily focus on environmental sustainability in a real way,” Weller said. 

This unique approach led to a partnership with Six Senses, a hospitality and branded residential company with a focus on wellness and environmental sustainability. Working together, Weller and Six Senses are bringing this vision to life on a global scale with luxury projects in Napa County, California, and Grand Bahama Island.

Through its work in Baltimore to restore a former train yard into a new burgeoning neighborhood, as well as more recent work in Grand Bahama and Napa, Weller Development has developed a reputation for its success in environmental restoration and sustainability.

Weller said that the idea behind Six Senses Napa is to create the No. 1 resort and branded residential project in the Napa region and beyond.  

“We wanted to maintain Napa’s essence while developing a world-class resort with environmental sustainability at the heart of every decision we make,” he said. “We are collaborating with Six Senses, Pegasus Capital Advisors and IHG Resorts & Hotels to not only restore the former Aetna Springs resort area to its glory of the early 1900s and bring a strong sense of pride to the valley but also to create a sustainable development that will last for generations to come.”

The firm is also applying its wellness and sustainability approach to Six Senses Grand Bahama. While the Bahamas is often viewed as a premier tourist destination, Hurricane Dorian and the pandemic have left parts of Grand Bahama in need of revitalization. Weller wants to be a catalyst for change in Grand Bahama.

“We want to pay respect to the island by working closely with the community and promoting environmental sustainability on what is an absolutely stunning landscape,” Weller said. “We are working collaboratively with local companies, the Bahamian people, and a team of experts in marine biology and sustainable design to create something transformative. We want to help improve tourism on the island and keep the natural environment intact at the same time.”

This 36-acre site will feature a resort, villas, restaurants, spas and other high-end wellness amenities, while the construction will use more sustainable practices to reduce environmental impact and programming to promote environmental sustainability.

Weller said he believes this is a great way to help the Bahamas continue to rebuild its tourism industry, and wants to help create more workforce opportunities during construction, which is slated for completion in 2026, and when the resort is open.

"It’s not enough to attract and retain talent," he said. "It’s about creating a unified front by supporting the community, caring for the environment and making sure that all stakeholders are happy with the project."

Weller wants to continue to push the envelope with each project the company takes on and believes that having a great team and putting your all into it makes a difference. 

“We put our heart and soul into every project we come across,” he said. “As Weller Development Partners continues to evolve, we want to keep that same tenacity, authenticity and creativity that’s helped us create impactful development projects since day one.” 

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Weller Development. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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