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Tishman Hotel & Realty Sells the Hilton Walt Disney World Resort for
 $127 million to Hilton's Owner, the Blackstone Group

By Sara K. Clarke, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

September 28, 2010 -- Tishman Hotel & Realty LP said Tuesday it "decided to take advantage of pent-up demand" for well-performing properties and sold the Hilton Walt Disney World Resort to Hilton Worldwide, which has been managing the hotel for nearly three decades.

"During our nearly 30-year ownership of the hotel, the Hilton posted strong returns and consistently outperformed its competitors," Tishman stated. "We maintain a strong presence in the Orlando hospitality market and continue to own the Walt Disney World Swan and the Walt Disney World Dolphin."

The sale price for the 814-room property, which was built in the early 1980s, equates to about $156,000 a room.

It's not a steal, but given the hotel's prime location near Downtown Disney and its popularity with meeting planners, it was probably deemed a good buy by Hilton's owner, the Blackstone Group, said Scott Smith, a lodging professor in the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

"That's definitely on the high side, but the thing to remember is it's got the best location almost in the world," Smith said.

Most hotel-management companies have typically shied away from being property owners, preferring instead to put their resources toward developing and managing hotels, he said. But he added: "I think, with Blackstone at the helm of Hilton, they're looking for good investments."

The sale, which closed Aug. 26, involved the building only and does not include the land underneath the hotel, according to the Orange County Property Appraiser's Office. The land remains the property of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, which is the typical arrangement for properties in Disney's Hotel Plaza, located in the extreme northeast corner of the resort by Interstate 4 and State Road 535.

Hilton said it exercised its option to buy the hotel "as part of a longstanding agreement" but did not elaborate on the agreement.

"This confirms our confidence and commitment to the Central Florida and greater Orlando area, and we look forward to continuing to be a part of their success," said James Grosso, the hotel's general manager.

Sara K. Clarke can be reached at skclarke@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5664.

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To see more of The Orlando Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.OrlandoSentinel.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

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