Victor Hotel set for South Beach return in 2003

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The Victor Hotel, the 1930s art deco property that's been shuttered since 1984, is set for a fall 2003 reopening.

Orlando-based Zom Development this month began restoring the Victor into an upscale, 91-unit South Beach boutique property. The property will be managed and marketed by Hyatt Hotels Corp.

Kevin Mallory, senior vice president of hotel development at Hyatt, said agent business will be courted just as it is at other Hyatts and that the Victor will have its own sales staff.

Mallory said he envisions that 60% to 80% of guests will be domestic and international leisure travelers seeking "the South Beach experience."

Travel agents would generate much of that business, Mallory said. The remainder of the Victor's guests will be business travelers and incentive groups, he continued, although the hotel will have limited conference space.

The property is located on Ocean Drive, next to the Versace mansion and directly across from the beach.

Mallory said Hyatt had been looking for a South Beach operation for years, but the "right opportunity" -- involvement with a high-end hotel -- did not materialize until now.

Zom Development acquired the Victor in March 2000 for more than $11 million, said Trip Stephens, Zom's chief investment officer. The original hotel, which was designed by architect L. Murray Dixon, was gutted, Stephens said, and the firm is reconstructing it at a cost of $48 million.

While the hotel will keep its 1930s look, it will offer all the modern amenities, such as room service, concierge and other high-end guest services, including the latest technology in guest rooms and public spaces, Mallory said.

The interior designer retained by Zom is Paris-based Jacque Garcia, who was involved in the design of several landmark hotels in Europe, including the Hotel Costes in Paris.

When completed, the overall project will have added a restaurant, lounge, 5,000-square-foot health spa and 4,000 square feet of retail shops.

The restoration not only includes reconstruction of the original property but the addition of a five-story wing, Stephens said. Also, proposals from several high-end restaurant operators are under consideration, he said.

Room rates at the Victor are expected to range from $365 per night, with oceanfront suites priced at around $800. Final rates are still to be settled, Mallory said. Travel agent commission will be 10%.

Bookings for the Victor may be accepted as early as this fall, Mallory said, depending on the progress of the construction project.

Hyatt has no equity in the hotel, he said, adding that the Victor name would be retained and possibly merged with Hyatt's, but a final decision is pending.

Hyatt owns and operates the 120-room Hyatt Key West; joint packages between the Victor and that hotel are a possibility, Mallory said. In Greater Miami, Hyatt also runs the 612-room Hyatt Regency Miami and the 192-room Hyatt Regency Coral Gables.

Additional details on the Victor Hotel are expected to be added by July to the Hyatt Web site.

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