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Beach Hyatt to be condo-hotel hybrid

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The developer says buyers would use the room for about a month a year and would be paid part of guests’ room rate. By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published October 14, 2004 CLEARWATER – Pressed to find sensible financing, the developer planning a 250-room beachfront Hyatt said each hotel unit will be individually owned. Banks have been hesitant to finance large, upscale resort projects since the travel industry sagged after Sept. 11. To compensate, condominium-hotel hybrids have become increasingly popular, industry experts say. Still, the Hyatt Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa would be Hyatt’s first U.S. mixed-ownership hotel, developer Brian Taub said. It would also be the first such full-scale arrangement in Clearwater. Buyers would own the room, but have access to it for only about a month each year. The rest of the time the national hotel chain would rent the unit out, with the buyer collecting some of the profits. Using buyers would soften the economic burden of the $90-million venture, and guests wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, Taub said. “Hotels are difficult to finance by the nature of what they do and how they operate,” Taub said. “Banks aren’t very interested in financing standard, typical hotels.” Unlike a time share, buyers would have full ownership. The units will be slightly larger than a typical resort room and will contain a minikitchen, said Dave Anderson, the Hyatt project manager for hotel builder Hardin Construction. Prices for the rooms have not been set, Taub said. “The resort is going to have a reservation desk, a concierge desk, health club, spa facilities, meeting rooms, ballrooms,” said Taub, who has primarily built residential projects in Tampa. “We will have the normal amenities that a resort hotel will have. But instead of being financed by a bank, in part it will be financed by individuals.” Although it is new to Clearwater, the condominium-hotel concept has boomed around Miami. The Ritz-Carlton operates a condo-hotel in South Florida, as does the Four Seasons. Resort powerhouse Starwood plans to open a W Hotel with a condominium component in Fort Lauderdale. Bill Ross, president of developer Estoril, has sold more than 40 percent of his condominium-hotel units in Miami’s financial district. Ross has partnered with Hilton-affiliated Conrad Hotel to sell 116 one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominiums as part of a new 36-story mixed development. Units cost around $500,000 on average, Ross said. “It allowed us to diversify the risk in the building,” which includes a stand-alone Conrad Hotel component, as well as office and retail space, Ross said. In Ross’ case, condominium owners pay a standard maintenance fee and can buy services from the hotel, such as spa treatments and room service. When a guest is using a unit, owners are typically paid 45 percent of the room rate, which can exceed $300 a night, Ross said. Joel Greene, of Miami-based Condo Hotel Center, which locates buyers for condo-hotel units, said business has skyrocketed this year. In 2003, Greene sold six units. So far this year, he has sold 98. “We’re picking up more and more developers every day,” said Greene, who works through a Web site, Another proposed Clearwater Beach resort will have a condominium-hotel component, though not nearly on the scale of Taub’s plan. The Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach, which will replace the Clearwater Beach Hotel, would top its 201-room resort with 50 for-sale suites. Those rooms would be sold for about $500,000 each to an owner who would be allowed to use the room for up to 30 days a year. The rest of the year, the 800- to 1,200-square-foot rooms would act as hotel rooms, with the owner and hotel splitting the room rate. Hyatt room owners would not be able to decorate the interior of their unit, which will be standardized by the hotel, Taub said. Along with the 250 hybrid hotel rooms, Taub said, the 14-story resort on S Gulfview Boulevard will be topped by 18 traditional condominiums. The first seven stories of the resort will include 750 parking spaces, 400 of which will be available to the public. There will also be a pedestrian bridge that crosses S Gulfview to the beach. The city must still approve changes to a site plan and development agreement that were first accepted in 2001. If the approvals come as expected, resort construction is scheduled to begin sometime next year with the hotel opening to guests in 2007. Source:
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