News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Susan Port, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 21, 2004 - Singer Gloria Estefan and her producer husband, Emilio, soon will close a deal to buy the Palm Court Resort Hotel in Vero Beach.
The Miami-based Estefans are buying the hotel to expand the hospitality division of their company, Estefan Enterprises, said Zeida Gonzalez, media relations director. Estefan Enterprises currently operates a boutique hotel on South Beach and five restaurants in Miami and Orlando.
The Estefans have had a house in Vero Beach for a year, Gonzalez said.
"They fell in love with it there," she said.
The Palm Court, at 3244 Ocean Drive in Vero Beach, was sold in 2002 to its current owners, Vero Ocean Partners LLC, for $5.5 million, according to records at the Indian River County Property Appraiser's office. The property and the building were most recently appraised at $4.99 million, records show.
Gonzalez declined to talk about the sales price for the hotel and said she did not know when the deal would close.
The Estefans, who have been negotiating for the site for the last few weeks, plan to make changes to the 107-room hotel's restaurant, Gonzalez said. She declined to elaborate.
She said the Estefans are not planning to move to Vero Beach permanently from Miami nor are they looking for other properties in the area. But they are interested in expanding their company's portfolio.
"They always make wise business decisions," she said.
North Palm Beach-based restaurant broker Richard Lackey said he was surprised to hear of the Estefans' interest in the hotel.
"Vero Beach is a magnificent moneyed community, but it's always been thought of as demographically an older community," Lackey said. "It's not the flash and dash of South Beach or a megatourist area such as Orlando."
The Estefans' businesses include the Cardozo Hotel, Cafe Cardozo and Lario's on the Beach, all on Miami's South Beach, and two Bongo's Cuban Cafe locations, one in Orlando and the other in Miami.
Lackey said he expects the Estefans to fix up the hotel but not to make it resemble their other properties.
"It's an investment vehicle for them... I don't think they are going to do anything that faintly resembles Orlando, South Beach and Miami," he said. "It's not going to be big Cuban-style, a lot of activity, big bar action, a young, swinging crowd. That ain't Vero Beach."
Penny Chandler, executive director of the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, said she doesn't expect that the hotel's new owners will attract more tourists. The Palm Court already is considered a fine hotel, she said.
"The interesting part is we are seeing people from outside of the area,
like Gloria Estefan, making the purchase of properties for investment purposes,"
Chandler said. "I would think you could say Vero Beach and Indian River
County are becoming noticed by people from outside the area."
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(c) 2004, The Palm Beach Post, Fla. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.