Hotel Online  Special Report

 MeriStar Hospitality Sells Safety Harbor Resort
and Spa on Tampa Bay


ARLINGTON, Va., December 22, 2004 — MeriStar Hospitality Corporation (NYSE: MHX), one of the nation’s largest hotel real estate investment trusts (REIT), today announced that it has sold the 189-room Safety Harbor Resort and Spa to S.H.S. Resort, LLC, an affiliate of Olympia Development Group, a well-regarded condominium developer, for more than $125,000 per key. 

The 26-acre resort is located on Tampa Bay in Florida and is approximately 15 minutes from Tampa International Airport.

“This is an excellent property with interesting redevelopment potential,” said Paul W. Whetsell, chairman and CEO.  “The hotel, however, did not fit our long-term strategy of owning larger, branded properties in major markets with high barriers to new competition and significant growth potential.  We believe we were able to maximize the property’s value by selling it to a local real estate company like Olympia who is better positioned to invest the time and capital needed to develop new real estate on the site. 

The natural mineral springs which serve as the primary source of water for Safety Harbor Resort and Spa have long been treasured for their fabled healing powers. Today the waters are used in the resort's world-renowned spa, including pools, saunas, steamrooms and whirlpools.

The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa is situated on 22 acres of pristine Tampa Bay waterfront. Built in 1945 on natural mineral springs, the resort was designated a historical landmark in l965.

The resort was built over springs discovered in l539 by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The waters have been coveted for their therapeutic value since the early 1900s. Mineral spring water is used throughout the resort in the pools, spa treatments, water coolers, and guestrooms.

By 1936, the springs were becoming famous for their healing powers. Dr. and Mrs. Alben Jansik bought the springs and rebuilt the facilities. In 1945, the Jansiks sold the springs and sanatorium to Dr. Salem H. Baranoff, who opened the area to overnight visitors and turned it into a health spa called Safety Harbor Spa.

“We have substantially completed the disposition program we announced in early 2003,” Whetsell stated.  “However, we will continually evaluate our portfolio and selectively reallocate assets into investments with higher return potential.”  MeriStar has disposed of 36 hotels in 2003 and 2004 for cash proceeds of approximately $284 million.

The Plascencia Group represented MeriStar in the sale.

Arlington, Va.-based MeriStar Hospitality Corporation owns 73 principally upscale, full-service hotels in major markets and resort locations with 20,319 rooms in 22 states and the District of Columbia.  The company owns hotels under such internationally known brands as Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Doubletree and Radisson. 

This press release contains forward-looking statements about MeriStar Hospitality Corporation, including those statements regarding future operating results, the timing and composition of revenues, expected levels of capital expenditures, and expected proceeds from asset sales, among others. 


MeriStar Hospitality Corporation
Mike Bauer
Director, Finance
(703) 812-7202

Also See: The 272 room Crowne Plaza Tampa, Managed by Quorum Hotels, Will Drop Franchise and Operate Under the Name, The Quorum Hotel / July 2004
WPM Construction Building 23-story Embassy Suites Adjacent to Tampa Convention Center / July 2004

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