A California-based hotelier paid $5.75 million last week for a long-shuttered W192 hotel, and plans to reopen in December under the Choice Hotels boutique flag Ascend Collection.
New owner Hari Johl told GrowthSpotter the former Royal Celebration Inn at 4944 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway would be renamed "The Palazzo." The 222-room, interior corridor hotel is just west of the S.R. 535 intersection, one of the Kissimmee tourism corridor's busiest gateways.
"We just saw an opportunity there, being close to Disney," Johl said. "We like the location of the hotel overlooking Lake Cecile."
Johl said his family has been in the hospitality business for 10 years, and they often target distressed properties.
Their company, Global Capital Group, currently operates hotels in multiple states. The Kissimmee property is the family's third in Florida, and they plan to spend approximately $3 million on a full renovation to bring it up to Choice standards.
"We started the renovations about three months ago, while we were still under contract," he said.
The hotel sits on nearly 10 acres. Built in 1984, it consists of three separate buildings comprising 35,000 square feet. It's on a stretch of W192 that has seen an increase in sales and redevelopment over the last two years.
Johl said that Choice's Property Improvement Plan includes all new laminate flooring, high-end furnishings and pillow-top mattresses. Each room will have a 50-inch flat screen TV. Bathrooms are being refurbished with new tile and quartz counters, and tubs are being replaced with showers in about 80 percent of the rooms.
Johl said the exterior has already been repainted, and improvements have been made to the pool area. The company also plans to reseal the parking lot, upgrade the landscaping and rebuild the dock on Lake Cecile.
"We're going to have jet ski rentals there," he said.
Johl said once renovations are complete, he's confident the hotel will be able to generate the $120 nightly rates that are standard for Ascend Collection hotels.
"The good thing is Embassy Suites is right across the street," he said, referencing the value by association of having another high-ADR hotel nearby.
The company also will apply for a full liquor license to serve a second-floor bar overlooking the pool, and the hotel restaurant. Johl said he's currently seeking a restaurant operator to sublease the space and will be hiring a general manager and staff shortly.
"Our plan is to open in three phases," Johl said. "The front building with the first 55 rooms should open within the next 60 days. We'll serve breakfast on the second floor until we get the restaurant open."
The back buildings and restaurant would opens in subsequent phases.
The property has been closed for years, but it was under contract earlier this year to a Canadian condo developer who wanted to do an apartment conversion.
Johl's affiliate Florida Hotel Ventures LLC sourced a $3.1 million loan from TransCapital Bank. The seller provided a second balloon mortgage in the amount of $2.7 million.
Johl is the latest hotelier to invest in aging hotel properties on Kissimmee's W192 corridor and convert them to national branded hotels.