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Archipelago Expands Across Mexico and the DR

Alan Woinski and Kim Woinski
May 20th, 2024 at 5:27 PM EDT

Skift Take

Archipelago International opened its first office in the Dominican Republic and signed multiple hotel management agreements in the DR and Mexico, adding numerous new properties.

The DJIA fell 197 points, but the Nasdaq was up 109, the S&P 500 rose 5 points, and the 10-year treasury yield was up .02 to 4.44%. Lodging stocks were kind of stuck in the mud. SOND was the only mover of note, down 5%, while VCSA traded down to another new low and then bounced.  

Just over a year after changing hands, the Buffalo Niagara Marriott in Amherst, New York, is wrapping up a multi-million dollar renovation of all 356 guestrooms and getting ready to tackle a banquet center redo. Both are part of an investment by Visions Hotels LLC, expected to cost between $15 million and $25 million, more than the company paid to buy the hotel through its Amherst Lodging Partners affiliate in a $14.4 million deal. The company is now following through on a promise to invest heavily in the Marriott, one of the Buffalo region’s largest hotels. In addition to redoing the parking lot last year, the hotel is now finishing renovations on all guestrooms as well as bathroom renovations. The 12,000-square-foot banquet and meeting space will undergo a complete overhaul, and the lobby and front end will also see some changes as the hotel introduces the Marriott brand’s M Club to elite members. Additionally, there’s talk of revamping the existing bar/restaurant to bring in more outside business. Those projects should begin in the late fourth quarter.   

Construction recently started on a 215-room, dual-branded Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott near Dallas Love Field Airport in Dallas, Texas. The hotel will be under the umbrella of Hirn Jetha and Kamlesh Kurani of a company called Dreamliner GlobalG&G Hospitality will manage the hotel. Dreamliner Love Field LLC, an entity connected to Kurani, took out a $33.2 million loan from an entity connected with Peachtree Group. Site work on the vacant lot has started, and construction is planned to take about 18 months.   

Driftwood Capital confirmed the $40 million renovation of the 278-key Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch and its relaunch under the Curio Collection by HiltonDriftwood Hospitality Management will continue to assume operations of the resort.   

The owner of the vacant St. Charles Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada, changed his plan to convert it to affordable housing, and he will instead build a multi-unit building on the adjacent parking lot. Ken Zaifman tried to turn the St. Charles into a boutique hotel, but the 111-year-old building was given heritage designation, protecting its exterior from being altered or demolished. Zaifman still plans to develop the hotel, but high construction costs and issues related to the heritage designation forced him to pivot, so he has decided to build a complex from the ground up on the parking lot. The 12-story, 120-unit building would have residential, multi-family, and affordable housing.   

The Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, Maine is undergoing a major $10 million renovation that will keep it closed this summer. The 50-room inn is one of three lodging properties on Mound Desert Island that have been acquired in recent years by Tim Harrington, founding part of Kennebunkport Resort Collection. In addition to the $10 million renovation of the inn’s main building, Harrington is looking to build 15 small rental cabins on the property. He also hopes to get building permits for two additional annexes, each with nine guestrooms. One of the annex buildings would also have an indoor pool, replacing the existing outdoor pool on the property. The main building of the inn has been gutted as part of the renovations.  

Solmar Hotels & Resorts is preparing an investment of up to $100 million to build up to 600 new rooms in Los Cabos, Baja California, Sur in Mexico, as well as initiating a process to convert the brand into a multi-destination. In the framework of the 50th anniversary of the brand in the country, the Grand Solmar Pacific Dunes Resort Golf & Spa will grow from 145 rooms to 600 units and will be ready in 2026.

The Solmar Resort will be demolished, and a hotel focused on the ultra-luxury segment, for adults only, will be built. The remodeling of Playa Grande Resort & Spa is also planned, which will begin in September and be completed in 2026.   

In Windsor, Ontario, a local developer is spending millions to turn a crumbling historic building into a boutique hotel. Graeme Thompson sees The West Walkerville as part of a vanguard of investment in the overlooked and rundown area between downtown and WalkervilleThompson announced his plans for the 115-year-old building include 23 themed “bootlegger style” rooms and a restaurant on the ground floor with indoor and outdoor seating. Work has already started on the top-to-bottom renovation, and the plan is to be open in September.   

Two sisters from South Jersey will open their 15-key boutique hotel in Ocean City, New Jersey this week after purchasing and undertaking a complete overhaul of a historic property. Alyse and Alexis Scaffidi’s Coastal Chateau, formerly the Atlantis Inn, will debut in time for Memorial Day weekend. After purchasing the property for $3.45 million in January, the Scaffidis began a complete overhaul of the hotel, financed through a loan from Sturdy Savings BankCoastal Chateau offers three apartment-style accommodations on the ground floor and 12 rooms across the second, third and fourth floors. The hotel, which has contactless check-in, will be managed by the ScaffidisCoastal Chateau is the first hospitality property in the sisters’ BiteSized Boutique Hotel brand, which they hope to expand.  

The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center in Walla Walla, Washington, has undergone two renovations. The second is currently winding down as hotel staff prepare for tourist season. While the exterior looks the same, the multimillion-dollar renovation took place in the guestrooms and suites of the historic tower and the west wing, the lobby, and food and beverage spaces. The property offers 13,000 square feet of event space. The 13-story, 133-guestroom hotel is owned by Marcus Whitman Holdings LLC and managed by Columbia Hospitality Inc

The site of Harris Bay’s hotel project on the San Antonio Riverwalk is now headed to the auction block. A foreclosure sale has been scheduled for the downtown property after Harris Bay defaulted on the loan it took out from Equity Secured Capital just before the pandemic. Harris Bay owes about $2.1 million. Harris Baybought the Texas property with plans to deliver an eight-story, 112-room Arista Hotel. The company planned to start construction last summer, targeting completion at the end of 2024, but a shovel never hit the ground. The auction is scheduled for June 4.  

Archipelago International opened its first corporate office in the Dominican Republic and announced the signing of multiple management agreements in the DR and Mexico. In terms of major new signing for the Dominican Republic the company announced Grand Aston Larimar City Golf Hotel & ResidencesPunta Cana, 228 rooms; Grand Aston Caicu Coral Golf Hotel & ResidencesPunta Cana, 669 rooms; Riviera Bay by AstonCana Bay, 110 rooms; Harbor Bay by AstonCap Cana, 189 rooms; Juanillo Hills by AstonCap Cana, 60 rooms; Aston Piantini Boutique HotelSanto Domingo, 144 rooms; Aston Towers Larimar CityPunta Cana, 432 rooms; Paradise Tower by HarperPunta Cana, 144 rooms; Harper Paradise Punta Cana, 135 rooms; Aston Arts Hotel & ResidencesPunta Cana, 368 rooms; and The Alan Experience Punta Cana, 530 rooms. New signings in Mexico include Grand Aston Tulum, 153 rooms; Aston Naomi Boutique Hotel & ResidencesPlaya Del Carmen, 246 rooms; Zonna Beach Resort & ResidencesPlaya Del Carmen, 257 rooms; and The Alan Hotel & ResidencesPlaya Del Carmen, 376 rooms. 

Personnel Moves

Aly El-Bassuni, President – Owner Relations, Aimbridge Hospitality, will now oversee Operations Resources as part of a role expansion with the company. In this newly created role, El-Bassuni will continue to oversee all aspects of owner relations while now leading the operations task force, brand relations, property retention, transitions, and operational finance. He will also lead Aimbridge’s commercial teams, which include revenue management, digital marketing, e-commerce, and sales, and will sit on the Executive Leadership Team.   

Dreamscape Hospitality announced the appointment of Adam Patenaude as its new President. In this role, Adam will leverage his extensive expertise to shape Dreamscape Hospitality’s trajectory as a hotel operator, driving strategic and profitable initiatives for the brand’s diverse portfolio of properties in markets across the U.S. Adam joins Dreamscape Hospitality from Aimbridge Hospitality, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of Operations.   

International Highlights

Hilton announced the European launch of its premium brand, Spark by Hilton, with the signing of Spark by Hilton London Romford. This 125-room property, set to open in the coming weeks, represents Hilton’s entry into the premium economy segment in Europe and is part of a franchise agreement with Romford South Ltd. Located in the heart of Romford town center, Spark by Hilton London Romfordfeatures Spark’s signature amenities including bright public spaces with multi-functional seating, a signature Hydration Cart, and a retail market.  

Melia is ready to accelerate the expansion of its portfolio by combining organic growth through the signing of management and franchise contracts and inorganic growth with the acquisition of hotel portfolios such as the one incorporated in 2022 through the agreement with Vinpearl in Vietnam. In an interview with CincoDiasMelia stresses that the medium-term goal is to reach 150,000 rooms, which would mean a growth of close to 50% in a range of five to seven years. The company is finalizing pacts with three strategic partners for its expansion in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In the case of the Middle East, the company has been working for quite some time in Saudi Arabia. They have five hotels signed so far from the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the tourism development agency. They are confident that there will be more growth properties in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Vietnam or ThailandMelia is about to sign a contract in Vietnam that can add another five or six hotels to the portfolio and is handling new opportunities with their partner TCC in ThailandMelia also points out that there are opportunities for growth in the Caribbean for branded residences, although limited to a few countries, and the aim is to exploit a hybrid model that combines hotels and branded residences. They are currently focused on the renovation of the nearly 900 rooms at Paradisus Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. However, in the medium and long term, we are working on the development of luxury hotels and branded residences in certain countries of the English-speaking Caribbean, such as AntiguaJamaica, or the Bahamas.

Alan Woinski and Kim Woinski
May 20th, 2024 at 5:27 PM EDT

Companies: Archipelago International, Aimbridge Hospitality, Amherst Lodging, Courtyard by Marriott, Curio Collection by Hilton, Driftwood Capital, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Hotels, Marriott International, Melia Hotels & Resorts, Peachtree Group, Residence Inn by Marriott, Solmar Hotels and Resorts, Sonder Holdings Inc., Spark by Hilton, Vacasa

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