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Simon Mall In South Florida Is Adding A Hotel

Although retail and hospitality have faced a challenging year, that hasn't stopped Simon Property Group from opening an eight-story, 174-room AC Hotel at the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Florida.

Simon and Norwich Partners announced that the hotel debuted March 31 in collaboration with Marriott International and Concord Hospitality Enterprises. Construction began in June 2019.

An AC Hotel opened at Sawgrass Mills, one of the largest outlet shopping destinations in the United States.

Sawgrass Mills, which was built in 1990 vaguely resembling the shape of an alligator, is 2.4M SF and has 350 outlet stores, including 40 for brands that don't have outlets anywhere else in South Florida, such as Prada and Tory Burch.

The mall does not have roller coasters or rides, but it is marketed as a tourist attraction. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it was common for foreign travelers and cruise ship passengers to bring empty rolling suitcases to the mall and stock up on purchases to bring home.

Pilots have reportedly said they have to make sure that extra luggage doesn't weigh down planes during outbound trips. Tripadvisor ranks the mall as the No. 1 thing to do in Sunrise, ahead of seeing a Florida Panthers NHL game.

In 2018, a study ranked it the second-most-profitable mall in the U.S., with $4.1B in asset value and $1,149 in sales per square foot.

The mall underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation that started in 2019, and it faced related construction liens last year.

In a February earnings call, Simon CEO David Simon said that in spite of the pandemic, the company had collected 90% of net billed rents for the second, third and fourth quarters combined. Of Florida, he said, "It's really showing green shoots, vibrant economy. The only element that's missing to make that really hot would be international tourism."

“There is pent-up demand for travel and Florida remains a sought-after destination,” Michael Lauria, general manager, AC Hotel Fort Lauderdale Sawgrass Mills/Sunrise, said in a statement announcing the hotel's debut. “As we welcome international and business travelers, we also look forward to being a safe and stylish getaway for local, Florida residents and other leisure travelers.”

“Simon continually evolves to best meet the needs of our visitors and the modern retail landscape demands a seamless cohesion between shopping, dining and hospitality,” Sawgrass Mills General Manager David Gott said.

The hotel is going for a "sophisticated European ambiance," according to an announcement, and has a restaurant and rooftop bar. It has more than 1.6K SF of meeting space and can accommodate corporate, wedding and social events.

In the wake of the coronavirus, the hotel chain has implemented Concord’s Pure Stay cleanliness guidelines, as well as Marriott’s Commitment to Clean, which include enhanced cleaning protocols, disinfectants, staff cleanliness education programs and more.