Miami to kick off wave of hotel development


MIAMI -- After completing a massive wave of hotel construction in the mid-1980s, Greater Miami is about to set off another wave of development.

The latest moves involve leading national and international brands trying to tap the growing market for corporate and group business.

When the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, slated to open its doors Nov. 30, was announced several years ago, it was hailed as the first new hotel tower planned for Miami Beach in a generation. But waiting in line are three more towers on Miami Beach alone: the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort, the Miami Beach Marriott at South Beach and the Sonesta Sasson Resort Hotel & Condominiums.

Still another Marriott, the J.W. Marriott, is on tap for the Brickell Avenue financial area in downtown Miami. That property will be joined by the Mandarin Oriental, scheduled for construction on an island right off Brickell. Also on Brickell will be a Four Seasons Hotel.

In affluent Coconut Grove, a Ritz-Carlton is planned, in direct competition with the existing Grand Bay Hotel. Meanwhile, an affiliated Grand Bay Resort Condominium Hotel is set for Key Biscayne. Even Orient-Express has been drawn here. The chain wants to build on a choice slice of real estate owned by actor Sylvester Stallone.

The $135 million Loews, which will be designated as the official hotel for the Miami Beach Convention Center, was on the ground floor of the building boom and is benefiting from around $50 million in seed money from the city of Miami Beach. Most of the other planned properties are self-financing.

The 800-room Loews, which was built on a choice beachfront site just north of the South Beach Art Deco district, incorporates a rebuilt historical hotel on the site. Adjoining the new hotel is the 422-room Royal Palm Crowne Plaza, which is slated to open in January 2000. That property, which like the Loews is within walking distance of the convention center, is expected to market itself for convention business in conjunction with its neighbor.

The 150-room Sonesta Sasson, slated for completion in the fall of 1999, is materializing out of a $60 million conversion of an existing structure. Adjoining the property will be a new 36-story beachfront condo.

The 229-room Miami Beach Marriott, slated for December 1999, is going up on the waterfront at South Pointe, in a newly gentrified area of the resort city. The 300-room J.W. Marriott, which recently broke ground and is to open late in 1999, will be a 21-story tower in the heart of the Brickell Avenue banking sector.

Besides 29 suites and two executive level floors, the property will have a 24-hour full-service business center and 18,000 square feet of meeting facilities, including a 10,000- square-foot ballroom. Also set for Brickell Avenue is the 300-room Four Seasons, marking the debut of the chain in Greater Miami when it opens in fall of 2001.

The 316-room Mandarin Oriental, scheduled for early 2001, will rise just off Brickell Avenue on a posh residential island developed by Hong Kong's Swire Properties. The $85 million hotel is a joint venture with Mandarin Oriental International Ltd. In addition to a tower overlooking Biscayne Bay, the property will offer a signature 200-seat Hong Kong-style rest-aurant.

Also set to overlook Biscayne Bay, this time from Coconut Grove, is the 250-room Ritz- Carlton, which will be part of a luxury condominium in a neighborhood noted for other luxury condos, shopping, dining and entertainment. The 243-room Grand Bay Resort, slated for opening in January 2000, also will be part of a condo complex. The 14-story building will feature the 20,000 square-foot Golden Door Spa.

The latest arrival, Orient-Express, has broached plans to build 200 villa-style rooms on the Stallone property. But because that property is in an affluent residential neighborhood, a zoning battle could break out.

Existing area hotels are spending big bucks to restore their facilities.

  • Turnberry Isle Resort & Country Club, a Raphael property in the Aventura section of North Miami, will open a $24 million seven-story building with 130 junior suites in December.
  • The Sheraton Bal Harbour Beach Resort completed a $52 million renovation and spent $12 million more on a Water Fantasy pool complex.
  • The Radisson Deauville Resort on Miami Beach is undergoing more than $20 million in renovations.
  • The Wyndham Miami Beach Resort, originally the Doral and later the Westin Resort, completed a $24.5 million renovation.
  • The Fontainebleau Hilton Resort & Towers in Miami Beach underwent a $20 million renovation.
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