|By Hannah Sampson, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 14, 2012--With high and rising room rates, continued interest from developers and record numbers of tourists visiting the area, Miami's hotel market should continue to improve, a panel of experts said Thursday.
The industry has been climbing out of the slump reached in 2009, when the economic downturn forced travelers to cut back. But average hotel rates for 2012 are expected to surpass the 2008 peak and climb even higher in 2013.
"At this point, it really looks like we're past the recovery stage," said Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, partner and head of the hospitality group at the Bilzin Sumberg law firm.
Amaducci-Adams moderated the Fourth Annual South Florida Lodging Outlook, put on by the Cornell Hotel Society's South Florida Chapter, at the Conrad Hotel Thursday morning.
Speakers highlighted the infusion of investment, including international companies such as Genting Group and Cube Capital, as another positive sign.
"This is the number one targeted investment market," said Daniel Peek, another panelist and senior managing director for commercial real estate firm HFF. "This is where the world wants to be."
Genting Group, the Malaysian company that bought the Miami Herald building and neighboring property last year for nearly half a billion dollars, had planned to develop a giant resort with a casino. But efforts to get approval for gambling from state legislators failed, and the company has said it plans to move forward with a scaled-down project.
Many of the panelists said they thought additional gaming in the area could be positive -- if done right.
William D. Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the question is what kind of operation the area wants.
"Clearly, the proposal that came forth last year was too big," he said. "They made a terrible mistake that they're living with now and they'll come back. At the end of the day, the devil's in the details."
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