Stalled by recession, 1 Hotels, Baccarat brands set to launch

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1 Hotel Brooklyn BridgeWithin two years of leaving his post as CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2005, Barry Sternlicht was launching two new five-star hotel brands, Baccarat Hotels and 1 Hotels. Sites were selected, deals were made, holes were dug.

Six years and one Great Recession later, there are no hotels, but Sternlicht's Starwood Capital Group says those brands are finally coming to life.

1 Hotels & Resorts and Baccarat Hotels & Resorts, which were first announced in 2006 and 2007, respectively, will open their first properties next year and additional operating sites within the next two years, Starwood Capital said last week.

Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York will debut in midtown Manhattan in 2014. The 50-story property, located on 53rd Street across the street from the Museum of Modern Art, will have 114 rooms as well as 61 private residences that are slated to start sales next month, and will include a street-level restaurant and bar.

Meanwhile, Miami Beach's 1 Hotel & Residences South Beach will have 417 rooms as well as 163 private residences and will boast what Starwood Capital says will be South Beach's largest pool. The project is being converted from a 1970s building and will be built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.

Sternlicht, who created the W brand in 1998 when he was CEO of Starwood Hotels, announced the eco-oriented 1 Hotels concept in October 2006 with a goal to have 15 development agreements signed within the ensuing two years.

The brand aimed to strive for the ultimate level of environmental awareness and energy conservation, combined with five-star luxury and service.

Baccarat New YorkSternlicht planned for the brand's first property to be opened in Seattle by the end of 2008 and ensuing properties to open on midtown Manhattan's West 40th Street and in Washington's West End neighborhood by 2010. Other sites in Atlanta and on Vancouver Island were also pitched.

As for the Baccarat hotel brand, based on the French crystal company founded in the 18th century, that badge was unveiled in July 2007, with Sternlicht earmarking the first Baccarat hotel for Wailea, Hawaii, in 2010. More properties were slated for the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

"What was once just an idea will soon be a reality," Sternlicht said in statement last week. "We are confident that Baccarat and 1 Hotels will place Starwood Capital Group at the very forefront of the dynamic hospitality industry."

Granted, Sternlicht wasn't the only hotelier whose plans for new brands were stymied by the recession. Among other badges, Starwood Hotels' Aloft, Hyatt's Andaz and the Marriott International-Ian Schrager brand Edition all saw fewer openings than had been planned during a more lenient prerecession financing environment.

U.S. hotel-room supply increased less than 1% in 2010, was nearly frozen in 2011 and edged up about a half-percent last year, according to Smith Travel Research (STR).

But with occupancy and room rates on the rise again, financiers are expected to be more aggressive as STR has forecast room supply to increase about 1% this year and 1.5% in 2014.

Sternlicht has appeared to secure some of that financing, as Starwood Capital plans to open a 193-room 1 Hotel in Brooklyn, a 229-room 1 Hotel in Manhattan and a 135-room Baccarat hotel in Rabat, Morocco, all within the next two years.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly. 

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