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Tampa hotelier Ben Mallah sold the Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre this week for $33.5 million.
Tampa hotelier Ben Mallah sold the Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre this week for $33.5 million. (JLL)

In a year where hotel sales have been few and far between, Tampa Bay hotelier Ben Mallah has just sold his second Orlando asset, a Disney partner hotel, for $33.5 million.

Mallah’s Equity Management Partners bought the Courtyard Orlando at Vista Centre in early 2017 for $21 million and invested over $5 million on a full renovation.

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Located at 8501 Palm Parkway, less than a mile from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard entrance to Walt Disney World, the 308-room hotel was built in 1989 and was beginning to show its wear, Mallah said.

“It was left without a lot of love for a long time,” he told GrowthSpotter. “We had to do a total makeover: full exterior makeover with paint, redo the pools and spa. Every room had to be stripped down and painted and new fixtures, all new furniture. The lobbies and restaurant had to be redone. We replaced everything right down to the alarm clocks."

Mallah said the buyer, Philadelphia-based hotel owner-operator GF Management, plans to invest even more in the property.

JLL’s Tampa-based hotel team of Preston Reid, Wyatt Krapf and Collier Proctor, represented Equity Management and brought the buyer. GF owns several hotel assets in Orlando, including a Doubletree in the airport submarket and the Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista. said.

“The buyer understands Orlando and wants to grow its presence,” Reid said. “It helps that they have other hotels in the market. On this one, Ben renovated it and did a great job, but there’s going to be a lot more. (GF) has a strategic vision for the property. I’m looking forward to seeing their plan come to fruition.”

GF Management officials were not immediately available to comment. The company secured a $30 million loan from Huntington National Bank.

Earlier this year Mallah’s EMP sold a Hawthorne Suites on the I-Drive corridor for $14.4 million. The latest sale leaves him with just one hotel asset in Orlando, the Four Points Sheraton on I-Drive, which is also on the market. He said he has considered buying value-add hotel properties here but feels the current inventory is either overpriced or encumbered by management. EMP manages its own properties.

“With this situation in Orlando, we just need to get out,” he said. “The market is saturated, in my opinion.”

Mallah is focusing his hotel business a little closer to his Largo home base. But he’s still open to investing in NNN retail assets in Orlando.

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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