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Behind The Deal: Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Buys Toronto Four Seasons Hotel

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has bought the 259-room Four Seasons Hotel for $225M, Canada’s largest-ever single-asset price-per-room deal and a strong signal of TO’s arrival as a legit luxury hotel market.

The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

It’s the first hotel buy for Shahid, founder of auto equipment supplier Flex-N-Gate Group and owner of London’s Fulham Football Club. He acquired the Four Seasons from an affiliate of Kingdom Holding Co, chaired by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin. Shadid and his family take immediate ownership of the hotel, which will continue to be managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. JLL SVPs Mark Sparrow and Luke Scheer, who brokered the sale, say it shows Toronto, which six years ago had no global-grade luxury hotel product, is now a bona fide upscale gateway market.

A street-level view of the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

Kingdom tapped JLL to market the Yorkville hotel and Mark says they handpicked a select group of investors with capacity to do a deal this size. Luke won’t dish on how many bids were received for the property, which opened in 2012, but tells us it garnered substantial global interest given the asset's high profile and the Toronto market's hotel-operating fundamentals, the strongest they’ve been in decades. The city's brand keeps growing on the international stage, Mark says, and Four Seasons’ HQ is based here, making the hotel more attractive.

Jacksonville Jaguars CEO Shadid Khan

Shadid (above) says his admiration and respect for Four Seasons is “deep and immense," and he intends to treat its TO flagship “as the treasure that it is,” building on its leadership position in Canada’s luxury hotel segment (the property boasts Café Boulud restaurant, below, and a 30k SF spa). Prince Alwaleed retains a 47.5% ownership stake in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts management company and will continue to play an “integral role” in the hospitality firm, with 99 properties worldwide. (Bill Gates’s Cascade owns 47.5%, and Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp holds a 5% stake.)

Award-winning Café Boulud restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

Toronto long lagged other gateway cities on luxury hotels, and Luke says it took time for the market to adjust after the launch in rapid succession of the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Trump and Shangri-La. But now the segment's thriving and garnering “exceptional” occupancies and rates, with Four Seasons leading the pack. JLL has a host of other hotel deals under contract or in the market, representing $1.6B in value. “It’ll be a record year," Mark says. Expect portfolio acquisitions and a few more large single-asset trades, but nothing will best the Four Seasons sale on price-per-key. “I can’t see any others being higher."