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North America

Florida Leads in Tourism From Abroad

Alan Woinski and Kim Woinski
August 21st, 2023 at 4:39 PM EDT

Skift Take

  • DJIA down 37 points, Nasdaq up 207, S&P 500 up 30; 10-year treasury yield rises to 4.34%. Lodging stocks mixed, SLNA up 9%, BHR down -6%, VAC trades lower.
  • Florida reports strong international visitor numbers, overseas travel up 21.8%, Canadian visitation up 81.1% in H1 2023. Florida sees 70.8 million annual visitors, leading post-pandemic recovery in overseas travelers.
  • Grand Galvez hotel joins Marriott’s Autograph Collection with elegant renovations. Aloft Chicago Schaumburg transforms former Holiday Inn into 119-room boutique hotel. IHG’s Kimpton to open two boutique hotels in Mexico City. Hartsfield-Jackson Airport plans new administration building and mid-tier hotel. New hotel in Milwaukee’s Deer District and upgraded Enclave at The Vendue opening in Charleston. US Real Estate Credit Holdings to purchase bankrupt Banyan Cay Resort.

The DJIA fell 37 points, but Nasdaq roared back, up 207, while the S&P 500was up 30 points. The 10-year treasury yield was up .09 to 4.34%. Lodging stocks were lower on the day. SLNA bounced back a little, up 9%, but that was only $0.04 per share. BHR was down -6% to another new low, and VAC also traded down to a new low.

Visit Florida announced they have the strongest number of international visitors since 2019. New estimates from Visit Florida suggest that in the first half of this year, overseas travel is up 21.8%, and Canadian visitation is up 81.1% compared to the same period in 2022. Florida welcomed 33.1 million visitors between April and June, with 1.9 million of those being overseas visitors and 846,000 of them Canadian. Florida also continues to set new records with annual visitation of 70.8 million in Calendar year 2023. Florida is leading the nation in recovering the number of overseas travelers visiting post-pandemic, with an 80% recovery rate from 2019. NY follows behind at 75% and California at 68%.

The Grand Galvez on Galveston Island on the Texas Gulf Coast has joined Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The 219-room hotel joins the Marriott brand after recent renovations by owner Seawall Hospitality LLC. The most striking restoration is said to be Peacock Alley in the West Loggia, the grand promenade originally designed for visitors wearing their finest clothes on the way to dinner or a music event. Peacock Alley is now a wide black and white marbled hall with oversized gold bell-shaped light fixtures enclosing multi-tiered crystal chandeliers leading from the lobby to the spa and Music Hall ballroom. Guest rooms were refreshed, as were the food and beverage options. The property includes a 10,000-square-foot spa at Grand Galvez and a free-form saline Resort Pool and Jacuzzi.

An old Holiday Inn in Chicago owned by Sam Patel has been transformed, after $6 million, into the 119-room Aloft Chicago Schaumburg. The hotel is technically in Rolling Meadows and is trying to cater to young professional business travelers during the week and social and leisure travelers on the weekend. The project cost of the renovation has doubled since the project was unveiled in 2017. That was when part of the Holiday Inn was converted into an Aloft.  Now the rear of the property is a 135-room Holiday Inn Express.

IHG’s Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announced it will open two boutique hotels in Mexico City. The first will be Kimpton Virgilio, set to open in the fall of 2023. The intimate hotel will have 48 guest rooms and a signature restaurant and rooftop bar in Polanco. Kimpton Virilio is owned by ZKC, a real estate investment fund specializing in developments in Mexico City. ZKC is developing the hotel in partnership with VineTower Development LLC, Ambrosi Etchegaray, and Arquitectura de Interiores.

IHG also announced the opening of a converted and newly renovated Holiday Inn Express hotel in Fremont, Indiana. The 74-room Holiday Inn Express Fremont is located near Trine University and includes an indoor pool, outdoor patio, fitness center, and the Express Start Breakfast Bar. The Holiday Inn Express Fremont operates under the ownership of Fremont Hotels LLC and the management of GZG Hospitality.

The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is planning to build a new airport administration building and try again to build an airport hotel next to the domestic terminal. The land for the administration building and the hotel is just west of the domestic terminal. The parcel used to be the west economy lot before it was cleared years ago for hotel development. The original vision for a $350 million, 541-room InterContinental or Hilton hotel and additional development next to the terminal failed to materialize and was never built. The development was finally canceled last year by developer Majestic Carter. Airport officials are now aiming for a mid-tier property with around 350 rooms. The hotel would sit next to the planned aviation administration center and parking deck.

A second hotel is in the works for Milwaukee’s Deer District, on the former site of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Milwaukee Business Journal said the developer of the recently opened Trade Hotel in downtown Milwaukeeplans to build the second hotel near North Sixth and West State Street, featuring 160 to 175 rooms, with North Central Group. A formal announcement on the project is expected in the coming weeks. Trade Hotel developer North Central Group confirmed it is discussing the new hotel with the Milwaukee Bucks. The team said the new hotel would cover about 14,000 square feet of the plot in Deer District, with a new concert venue planned for another portion of the former Bradley Center site.

The Enclave at The Vendue will open in Charleston, SC, on August 25, following a $4 million interior upgrade. The newly renovated space is near Waterfront Park. The updates include major cosmetic changes to the 39 guest rooms and common areas. The project is being staggered so that the property and its amenities remain open. It’s expected to be completed around the end of the year. The Enclave is one of two properties that locally based Avocet Hospitality operates on either side of Vendue Range and markets as distinct experiences under one flag. The Enclave will host an artist-in-residence studio and offer tailored guest services ranging from shoeshine to securing reservations.

The lender to the bankrupt Banyan Cay Resort & Club in West Palm Beach, FL, plans to buy the project before the end of the month after the previous suitor failed to follow through on a  $102.1 million sale. US Real Estate Credit Holdings will purchase the project with a $96.9 million credit bid. Denver-based Westside Investment Partners was the sole bidder at the bankruptcy auction and was supposed to close on the purchase before July 31. They did not come through, leaving the property unable to pay its insurance, maintain it, or pay employees. Domenic Gatto Jr is the head of Banyan Cay Dev LLC, the current owner, and he objects to the lender purchasing the property, saying there are more bidders. He claims an offer came in last week at $109 million and that the lender should not be allowed to recoup the property because the sale process has technically ended.

LMA Rockland LLC has purchased two wings of the Trade Winds Motor Inn in Rockland, ME. That includes 56 rooms and a substantial portion of the parking lot. The sale does not include the Park Drive hotel’s western wing, which includes timeshares, restaurants, and the lounge. LMA Rockland’s owner also owns the hotel Bangor Suites in Bangor, ME.

My Place Hotels of America has opened My Place Hotel Boise/Nampa, ID – Idaho Center in Boise/Nampa, Idaho. The property is owned by Rimrock Companies and is managed by Johnson Hospitality. It has 85 rooms and is strategically situated in the Boise-Meridian-Nampa metropolitan corridor, adjacent to the Ford Idaho Center.


Hilton oversees the new Waldorf Astoria Guanacaste Hotel development in Playa Penca, Costa Rica. The hotel will feature 190 rooms and 25 residences and is expected to open in 2025. The resort will offer wellness experiences that connect guests to the local community. Amenities include a holistic wellness center, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, a movement studio, outdoor yoga spaces, and thermal and training pools. There are around 3,000 square meters of space for gatherings and events, indoor and outdoor areas, a grassy event space, and a ceremonial wedding pavilion. The hotel is being developed just a 25-minute drive from Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport. The property also offers direct entry to Playa Penca.

Personnel Moves

Accor announced that Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Global CEO of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, has been appointed Group Chief Strategy Officer of Accor. Gilda will assume the role on October 1, 2023, and will be a member of Accor’s Management Board, based in Paris.

Alan Woinski and Kim Woinski
August 21st, 2023 at 4:39 PM EDT

Companies: Accor, Aloft Hotels, Autograph Collection, Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc., Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton, Marriott International, My Place Hotels of America, Seawall Hospitality, Selina, Vacasa, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Locations: Atlanta, Boise, Charleston, Chicago, Costa Rica, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Mexico City, Milwaukee, Palm Beach, Texas

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