A Miami-based hotel developer hopes to make a big splash in the Kissimmee market with the purchase and complete renovation of three aging hotels on a two-mile stretch of the W192 tourist corridor.
Rodrigo Calabrese founded GreenPoint Hospitality in 2013, and has since developed four restaurants in South Florida. Over the last two years, he and business partner Ruben Santurian have acquired three hotel properties all within a mile of Celebration and the future Magic Place by Pininfarina, and will reopen the first two this summer as midscale hotels under their own brand.
"We're going to make some noise," Calabrese told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "I think in Kissimmee we are the new kids on the block, and we want to make sure people get to know us."
The former Grand Orlando Palms, a 200-room hotel built in 1973, will reopen in June as the new GreenPoint Kissimmee. The Claremont, a 31-year-old property with 359 rooms, will reopen later in the summer as GreenPoint Celebration. Concepts are still being developed for the 188-room Parkside Inn, which will be converted to a condo-hotel and reopen under a separate brand.
Calabrese spent 13 years with Marriott as a general manager of various resort properties in the U.S., Argentina and Costa Rica. He told GrowthSpotter he picked Kissimmee to launch GreenPoint because he saw a gap in the market between independent and flag hotels.
"Especially in Kissimmee, you see a lot of hotels that have been there for a long time and owners are not taking care of the property," Calabrese said. "They're not up to par. And you have that or you have the high-end flag properties, but there was nothing in between in the moderate pricing segment. We want to provide a good product and an efficient product that doesn't carry all the costs of a full-service hotel."
He said the company's goal is to have 1,500 keys by the end of 2017.
Marketing Director Crystal Pernici said GreenPoint will do a complete gut renovation of the properties, giving the buildings a more "modern, clean look and feel - a little bit artsy."
"We want each hotel to be unique within the brand," Pernici said. "Most of our staff is from luxury brand background and we're looking to bring that into our midscale hotels."
For example, GreenPoint will offer upgraded bedding options for guests who want a Tempur-Pedic mattress. "We're going to have new, modern fitness equipment, tech resources, and business centers," Pernici said. "We'll install a touch screen navigation system for concierge service."
The Orlando Palms property was one of many failed condo-hotels on the W192 corridor. To gain control of the asset, Calabrese and his investors had to buy out more than 100 separate condo owners. "We have a lot investors who bought multiple units. We own some of the units, too. We manage the construction, and once construction is done, we take over as property managers."
He said renovations are about 80 percent completed and involved all new electrical, plumbing, boilers, custom-designed furniture, flooring and common space. Belmore Construction is the general contractor.
"We're going to end up with a brand new property," he said. "On average in GreenPoint, we're spending between $10,000 and $15,000 per key – that's conversion and pre-opening expenses."
GreenPoint upgraded the fire safety system, resurfaced the pool and pool deck, and is putting the final touches on a landscaping plan. "We want to create ambiance – lighting will play a big role in outdoor spaces," he said.
And they've managed to do it all without attracting any attention. "We tried to keep it under the radar," Calabrese said. "We didn't change the signage, but we will do that in the next few weeks."
Special attention was paid to common areas and event spaces. While all guests will receive a complimentary breakfast, each GreenPoint hotel will feature a separate gourmet coffee bar and bistro that serves a limited menu of made-to-order meals and converts to a full-service bar in the evening.
"We plan to be open late," he said. "We want to make sure guests have option for good quality food if they stayed late at the the park and watched the fireworks. We're also going to have a grab-and-go shop that will be open 24 hours."
GreenPoint won't charge resort fees, but the revenue from food and beverage sales will allow them to open with introductory room rates in the $70-to-$80 per night range.
"We want to be conservative," Calabrese said. "We understand that penetrating this market will be competitive. We need to compete on pricing for first few years until people get to know the brand. We need to be very careful what we charge."