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I Drive’s only Autograph Collection hotel trades hands

Waramaug Hospitality bought The Castle Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection property, on Orlando's International Drive.
Waramaug Hospitality bought The Castle Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection property, on Orlando's International Drive. (Handout)

A Boca Raton hotel company purchased the Castle Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection property on the booming South I-Drive corridor on Tuesday.

“We see tremendous upside in this property,” said Craig Nussbaum, executive vice president of Waramaug Hospitality Group."We will be planning a full renovation of the rooms, bathrooms and all common spaces. And we’ll be introducing a new restaurant concept. We will be ready in time for the opening of Epic Universe."

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Located at 8629 International Dr. just south of I-Drive 360, the property lies across Universal Boulevard from the new Universal theme park. The full service hotel has 214 guest room and caters to business and commercial clients, according to HREC Vice President Paul Sexton, who represented the seller.

“This is really the only boutique hotel in the I Drive corridor,” Sexton said. “It gets a lot of overflow from the (Orange County) Convention Center. As far as its future positioning, it’s right across the street from the Epic Universe and all the other developments on I Drive, including Top Golf and Andretti Karting.”

The deed reflected a $25.5 million sale price, based on document stamp fees, but it likely represents only the value of the real property — not the full purchase price.

The nine-story Castle Hotel was built in 1995 and was renovated in 2013 to be included in the Marriott Autograph Collection portfolio. Nussbaum said he couldn’t discuss specific plans for to the hotel’s heavily themed purple and gold decor, but noted that Waramaug would keep the Castle theme.

The buyer will introduce a new restaurant concept to replace the Antler's Lounge in The Castle Hotel.
The buyer will introduce a new restaurant concept to replace the Antler's Lounge in The Castle Hotel. (Handout)

“This hotel was last renovated in 2013,” Sexton said. “The new owners will standardize the theming in keeping with the Autograph Collection brand standards."

At the time of the sale, the property was operating at above 70% occupancy and the mid-$150 range average daily rate. “It outperforms its comp set,” Sexton said.

Waramaug is familiar with the Orlando market, having previously owned the Sheraton Orlando North and Radisson Resort Orlando-Celebration. The company divested of those assets in 2018.

Nussbaum said company executives executed the closing despite the economic uncertainty associated with the Coronavirus pandemic because they believe Orlando’s market is strong enough to rebound from a temporary disruption.

“We see the longterm prospects of the hotel,” he said. “We know we’ll get through the initial tough period.”

The deed for the transaction still had not posted in Orange County as of Thursday afternoon. The seller was Louisville-based Schulte Hospitality Group, which had purchased the hotel in 2017 for $23.6 million.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include the sale price.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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