Jeff Ostrowski | The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
June 07–In the biggest property sale in Palm Beach County history, the Boca Raton Resort & Club sold this week for $461.6 million, according to deeds made public Thursday.
A company affiliated with billionaire Michael Dell announced in April that it would buy the iconic club from Blackstone Group, but the buyer and seller didn’t disclose the price at the time. Dell’s MSD Partners is the new owner of the 1,047-room hotel. Dell himself visited the hotel several times from 2000 to 2004, when the Boca Resort hosted annual meetings of The Business Council, an organization made up of the heads of the nation’s largest businesses.
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The previous record for a Palm Beach County property was the $341 million fetched in 2014 by the Mall at Wellington Green. Adjusted for inflation, that amount equals $367 million in 2019 dollars, meaning this week’s sale is the largest by a wide margin.
The resort’s original structure was built in 1926 and designed by famed architect Addison Mizner. Since then, the Boca Raton Resort & Club has expanded into a 337-acre spread with two 18-hole golf courses, a 50,000-square-foot spa, seven swimming pools, 30 tennis courts, a 32-slip marina, 13 restaurants and bars, and 200,000 square feet of meeting space.Blackstone and MSD recorded three separate transactions of $430.35 million, $22.1 million and $9.15 million.The property will continue to be managed by Hilton under the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts brand, Blackstone and MSD said in April.New York-based MSD Partners is an offshoot of MSD Capital, the private investment firm for Dell and his family. Dell founded Dell Computer.
The Boca Resort has been owned by a series of deep-pocketed landlords in recent decades. In 1983, a Chicago investor paid $140 million for the trophy property.
Next up was Florida Panthers Holdings, a publicly traded company headed by the late H. Wayne Huizenga. It bought the property in 1997 for $325 million in stock and debt. Adjust that sum for inflation, and Huizenga paid $519 million in 2019 dollars — meaning the trophy property’s appreciation over the past 22 years didn’t keep pace with inflation.
After Huizenga sold hockey’s Florida Panthers, his publicly traded hotel company was renamed Boca Resorts. That operation, which owned hotels in Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Arizona, sold to New York-based Blackstone Group in 2004 for $1.25 firstname.lastname@example.org@bio561
A partial history of Boca Raton Resort & Club
1925: Addison Mizner takes out an advertisement in the Muncie, Ind., Sunday Star pro-claiming his new resort, “I am the greatest resort in the world. I am Boca Raton, Fla.”
1926: The Boca Raton Resort & Club is founded as The Cloister Inn. The 100-room Inn, designed by Mizner, cost $1.5 million.
1928: The Cloister Inn is purchased by Clarence Geist of Philadelphia. The property expands to include more guest rooms, plus the Cabana Club and golf course are built. The hotel is open from January to March.
1930s: Geist subsidizes the hotel during the Depression. When he dies in 1938, he leaves the hotel a subsidy of $500,000 over a period of five years.
1942: The U.S. Army takes over the hotel for two years. Recruits attend Army Air Corps Technical School classes there.
1946: J. Myer Schine buys the hotel for $3 million. He begins bringing in convention business.
1956: Arthur Vining Davis, former chairman of Aluminum Corporation of America, buys the hotel and surrounding property for $22.5 million. He gets the hotel, 1,000 acres and one mile of beachfront property in the deal. At the time, it is the largest real estate deal in Florida history.
1958: Arvida Corp. is formed and named after Arthur Vining Davis. Arvida owns and operates the hotel for approximately 27 years.
1969: Arvida begins a $14 million expansion program that includes the 27-story Tower and the Golf Villas. In addition, a conference center is built. The Tower is the tallest building between Miami and Jacksonville.
1975: The hotel closes the toilets in its service area. It is accused of secretly dumping raw sewage into Lake Boca Raton.
1976: A rash of 19 burglaries from hotel rooms in the first five months of the year result in the loss of $132,000 of jewels and other valuables.
1980: The $20 million Boca Beach Club replaces the old Cabana Club adjacent to the hotel.
1983: The Boca Raton Resort & Club sells to the Boca Raton Hotel & Club Limited Partnership managed by VMS Realty Corp.
1988: The resort’s owners buy the Boca Country Club.
1990: Boca Raton City Council unanimously approves a $100 million expansion plan.
1991: The hotel undergoes an $11 million renovation.
1993: Boca Raton Management Co. is installed as the general partner for the Boca Raton Hotel & Club Limited Partnership, replacing VMS Realty Corp. The company refinances $150 million of debt.
1996: Groundbreaking begins on the new convention center at the resort.
1997: Boca Raton City Council approves 15 single-family homes and 57 condominium units be built on the Boca Raton Resort & Club property.
1997: A company led by billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga, and which also owns the Florida Panthers hockey team, agrees to buy the Boca Raton Resort & Club for $325 million.
1999: The Boca Resort is the backdrop for live coverage on CNBC as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan delivers a speech to members of the Business Council. Among the group’s members is Michael Dell. He doesn’t attend in 1999 but appears at subsequent Business Council meetings.
2004: Blackstone Group pays $1.25 billion for Boca Resorts, a company that owns a number of high-end hotels.
2019: Michael Dell pays $461.6 million for the resort.