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Hyatt  Signs 20-year Management Agreement to Operate the 501-room Bonaventure Resort and Spa;
The Westin, Forida Resort to be Renamed the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center
 and Spa
By Tom Stieghorst, South Florida Sun-SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Aug. 31, 2006 --Hyatt Hotels will announce today it is taking over management of the 501-room Bonaventure Resort and Spa, which has struggled to find its niche as an independently run property.

Tom Ireland, owner of the Weston resort, has signed a 20-year management agreement with Hyatt, which will rename the resort the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center and Spa.

The agreement, effective Friday, could provide a major boost to tourism businesses in western Broward, which has fewer large resort hotels than the eastern part of the county.

Worldwide, Hyatt has 215 properties run under the Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt brands.

Employment at the resort will grow from 200 to between 300 and 350, said General Manager Fred Euler, who was transferred from the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe last month. "We have had great interest within Hyatt from associates that want to move here," he said.

Bonaventure will be the first hotel run by Hyatt in Broward or Palm Beach counties. The Hyatt Regency name is also on Fort Lauderdale's Pier 66 resort, but that hotel is a franchise.

Ireland has spent more than $90 million renovating the Bonaventure, which had lost its luster under former owners Wyndham Resorts. Along with co-developer Herbert Sadkin, Ireland had developed the 22-acre resort in 1981, sold it, and then reacquired it in 2004. Since then, Bonaventure had been run as an independent, but Ireland has been negotiating with Hyatt for most of the past year to come in and run it, Euler said.

The hotel will be marketed mainly to business groups, trade associations and conferences.

"Hyatt is very much a meetings company. That is our core business," said Kelly Commerford, sales director at Bonaventure. The hotel has 50,000 square feet of meeting space and another 50,000 feet of pre-function and outdoor event space, he said.

Even before taking control, Hyatt's national sales force has booked meetings at the Bonaventure worth $6.5 million, Commerford said.

Renovations to Bonaventure include a complete rehab of nine buildings housing the resort's guest rooms. "They were stripped back to nothing and completely redone," Commerford said.

About half the rooms will be offered as condo-hotel units, but Euler said a majority of the buyers will be required to lease the rooms to the hotel full time. In the rest, owners have occupancy rights two weeks a year.

Hyatt will continue work in September to bring Bonaventure up to its standards, including a replacement of all the TVs with flat-screen models, a replacement of all the elevators to make them faster and the buildout of a 55-seat high-end steakhouse. The hotel will get new menus and linens. About 60 workers from other Hyatt hotels are training employees in Hyatt service standards.

Euler said that while Bonaventure suffered some damage to its reputation over the past 10 years, there remains a well of goodwill for the days when the resort's spa drew celebrities such as Mariel Hemingway, Bill Cosby and Lynda Carter.

"There is an image from the first 10 years of this facility that brings with it fond memories," Euler said.

Tom Stieghorst can be reached at tstieghorst@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810-5008.

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Copyright (c) 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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