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Florida Developer Building Hotels in Untapped Markets

04/08/2015

In 2013, real estate developer Nadim Ashi wanted to brand his Miami Beach property with the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. However, based on a deal made by Four Seasons almost 20 years earlier, outside development was prohibited.

Exclusive rights were granted from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to the owners of the Palm Beach Four Seasons hotel. The crux of that deal was that the Canadian owners of Palm Beach would have rights to any new properties developed on the Atlantic coast of Florida for a period of 40 years. However, Ashi was determined and in an effort to brand his own properties, he met with the owners in Montreal, which resulted in him buying the Palm Beach hotel, as well as Florida rights.

New Florida Development

As reported in a press release, a third Four Seasons hotel will be built in Fort Lauderdale, just 30 miles away from Miami. The cost of the acquisition coupled with construction for three properties in the south Florida market will cost Ashi’s firm, Fort Capital Management and partners $1 billion. In addition, Ashi is looking at another Four Seasons location somewhere close to Naples.

As explained by Ashi, compared to other brands, Four Seasons has more client recognition and prestige. For the properties that Fort Capital is developing, Four Seasons will be responsible for managing the different properties.

This is just one example of a new group of developers pushing into untapped markets for a hotel brand with a 54-year history. During the most recent economic crisis, Four Seasons faced serious struggles and in 2013, the chief executive left the company after being in that position for just three years.

Four Seasons’ Strong Standing

Four Seasons ranks as one of the largest luxury hotel operators in the world. In total, 95 hotels spread out over 39 countries are being managed by the company. However, the Four Season’s footprint is working hard to expand under Allen Smith, the new chief executive. The goal is to persuade additional investors in hotels to back the Four Seasons brand against an increasing number of competitors to include operators in Asia and the Middle East, as well as Hilton Worldwide Holdings.

The new Four Seasons being developed in Miami will be part of the Surf Club, a 1930 hot spot for major Hollywood stars and high-profile clients such as Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Winston Churchill. The acquisition and renovation for this property alone will cost around $650 million, which includes a hotel with 77 rooms and 150 adjoining luxury residences.

All the changes will be overseen by Richard Meier, award-winning architect. According to Ashi, his decision is already paying off. Of the available condominiums, 75 percent have been sold for $900 million, primarily to money managers and financers from the Northwest. If the other units sell at the prices listed, Ashi will collect $1.25 billion.

As far as the hotel rooms that will be open next year, the average $1,000 nightly rate will put this Four Seasons property among the most expensive in the United States.

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