|Florida Keys Keynoter,
MarathonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 01, 2011--Spottswood Hotels Inc. is turning over the management of four of its older Key West hotels to Hostmark Hospitality Group today.
Spottswood Cos. President Robert A. Spottswood said the change won't affect ownership of the properties, but it will allow the owners to focus on redevelopment plans for the area, as well as other projects.
Spottswood Hotels owns the properties with Chicago-based investor J.L. Woode Ltd., a privately owned investment and real estate development company founded by Robert Spottswood and three others.
The management switch affects Days Inn, Hotel Key West, Quality Inn, Comfort Inn and the welcome center and restaurant buildings on the inland side of North Roosevelt Boulevard near the city's entrance.
"All the property personnel will stay the same," Spottswood said, "but they'll be working with the new company going forward."
Spottswood will continue to manage Marriott Beachside, the new Holiday Inn Express in Marathon and the Coconut Beach Resort.
"We're really focusing these days on the luxury segment," he said.
Before the economic downturn, the company drew up plans for a sprawling resort and conference center to replace the 1970s-era hotels it had acquired over a decade.
Spottswood said the company is still looking for financing for that development, known as "Project Key West," which means construction is still several years down the road.
In the meantime, he said, Hostmark will handle day-to-day hotel management and oversee renovations of the aging properties, including a likely rebranding of Hotel Key West, which most recently was a Holiday Inn.
Schaumburg, Ill.-based Hostmark manages 38 properties with more than 6,700 rooms, according to its website. It claims previous experience in the Keys with the Days Inn in Key West, the Holiday Inn in Marathon and Holiday Isle in Islamorada.
"They bring a lot of renovation experience and sales and marketing experience," Spottswood said. "They'll be able to help us with moving our short-term vision forward."
Spottswood said the hotel renovations would likely be handled by local contractors and Spottswood's construction arm, Keystar.
The company's long-term vision for the site was a mix of conference, dining and retail space anchored by a large hotel and residential and fractional ownership units that would transform the city's entrance.
That vision has changed, Spottswood said, as it's become clear financing will be easier to attain if the project involves several smaller hotels rather than one large one.
"That'll require us to go back to the city for approval," he said. "It'll probably be getting smaller rather than bigger."
Spottswood said the Faro Blanco resort in Marathon is in the company's more immediate future, as it looks to finally move forward on the long-stalled redevelopment of the bayside resort and oceanside marina.
The plans for Faro Blanco include 91 hotel rooms and 159 boat slips, as well as a yacht club, meeting space and a restaurant. He said the company plans to restore the landmark lighthouse.
He expects work there to get under way in the third or fourth quarter of 2011, with an 18-month construction timeline. The Marathon plan has also been tweaked, Spottswood said, with a focus on upscale rooms of 500 square feet or so instead of the expansive condominium-hotel units originally envisioned.
"When we went through the process, it was going to be a for-sale product. That's not what the market is looking for today," he said.
The company already has many of the necessary approvals for the project, but Spottswood said the city would have to sign off on the changes.
Spottswood said the company may have a couple of other projects in the pipeline -- one in the Keys and one on the mainland -- but he said it's too early in the process to talk about them.
What is known is that Spottswood Cos., in conjunction with hotelier Joel Meisel, is pursuing development of a privately financed marina on publicly owned property at the Truman Waterfront in Key West. They wanted to use tourism tax dollars collected by Monroe County to fund the project, but county officials didn't support that plan.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon
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