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Becker Ventures Acquires Paramount Hotel for $126.5
million from Morgans Hotel Group; Hard Rock / Sol Meliá
Joint Venture Will Operate as Re-branded
Hard Rock Hotel New York

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New York, NY July 7, 2004 … Hard Rock Cafe International and Sol Meliá Hotels and Resorts today announced that its 50:50 joint venture (Lifestar Hotels LLC) has entered into a series of agreements with Becker Ventures LLC to develop and manage the Paramount Hotel which Becker recently acquired from Century Paramount LLC.  The purchase price of the hotel was $126.5 million.  The hotel will undergo a multi-million dollar refurbishment to commence at the beginning of 2005, following which it will be re-branded the Hard Rock Hotel New York. 

Until the refurbishment is complete, the hotel will continue to operate as the Paramount Hotel with all activities being managed by Lifestar Hotels.

“New York City is one of the top business and leisure destinations in the world and bringing Hard Rock Hotel New York to the Times Square area further establishes the Hard Rock brand as a force in the hotel industry,” said Trevor Horwell, vice president of hotels and casinos, Hard Rock Cafe International.  “We plan on improving the quality of the hotel to bring it to the standards that guests expect from the Hard Rock Hotel.” 

Located just off Times Square, on 46th between Broadway and 8th Avenue, the Paramount Hotel is situated in one of Manhattan’s most vibrant locations. 

"The location for the new Hard Rock Hotel New York is excellent.  Based on our experience with the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago which opened at the end of last year, we will deliver a high-quality product that will be founded upon Hard Rock’s formula of an all-encompassing lifestyle experience,” said Mike McInerney, principal of Becker Ventures.  “We feel that the Hard Rock Hotel New York will be a strong addition to Manhattan’s overall offering.”

The new hotel is set to become a strong force within Times Square from a leisure, business and group standpoint, offering a destination restaurant, a “hot-spot” bar and a Hard Rock Hotel retail store.  Additionally, the former 10,000-square-foot speakeasy bar in the basement will be redeveloped to create a venue for corporate and social events.

“This is an attractive development for Sol Meliá,” said André Gerondeau, EVP North America for Sol Meliá S.A Hotels and Resorts.  “By combining Sol Meliá’s proven hotel management and distribution experience with the worldwide recognition of the Hard Rock brand, we believe we will have one of the most exciting and successful ventures in Manhattan.”

Background on the joint venture

Lifestar Hotels LLC, the joint venture between Hard Rock Cafe International and Sol Meliá SA, provides hotel owners a unique proposition to access the Hard Rock Hotel brand through long-term management agreements. 

New York will be the third Hard Rock Hotel to be part of the joint venture since its formation in 2003, the others being in Chicago, which opened earlier this year, and San Diego which is due to open in 2006. 

Background on Hard Rock

Hard Rock Cafe International, one of the most globally-recognized music, entertainment and dining brands, has a network of more than 115 signature Hard Rock Cafes in 44 countries and owns the world’s greatest collection of music memorabilia.  Known for its collectible and fashion merchandise, live concerts, Hard Rock Live performance venues, hardrock.com and Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos, Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of London-based The Rank Group Plc (NASDAQ: RANKY).  In addition to the joint venture with Sol Meliá, Hard Rock Cafe International also owns, operates or has licensed rights to full-service hotels in Las Vegas, Bali, Pattaya, Orlando, Tampa, Hollywood (Fla.) and Biloxi (opening 2005).    For more information on Hard Rock, visit www.hardrock.com.

Background on Sol Meliá Hotels and Resorts
Founded in 1956 in Palma de Majorca (Spain), Sol Meliá is the largest resort hotel company in the world with more than 50 percent of its hotels in urban locations and by far the largest hotel company in Spain, both in the city and resort hotel markets. The company currently provides 350 hotels in 30 countries on four continents and provides employment to more than 36,000 people in its Meliá, Tryp, Sol and Paradisus Resorts brands. In addition to the joint venture with Hard Rock, last year Sol Meliá signed a strategic alliance for marketing and distribution with Cendant Corporation. For more information on Sol Meliá, visit www.solmelia.com. 


 
Contact:
Brian Siemienas 
Hard Rock Cafe
407-445-7625
www.hardrock.com
Also See: Year and a Half Before Opening, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi Receives More than 1,900 Resumés / February 2004
CEO James F. Allen Gets Little Sleep in Last Leg of Preparations for 500 room Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida / May 2004
Sol Meliá and the Rank Group Open the 381 room Hard Rock Hotel Chicago / January 2004


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