Brazil’s Fasano Comes to Miami Beach

BN-JW656_0818fa_J_20150817112950 (1)

The owner of Miami Beach’s swanky Shore Club has picked Fasano to run the site’s new luxury hotel and condominium

The owner of Miami Beach’s swanky Shore Club has picked Brazilian hospitality company Fasano to run the site’s new luxury hotel and condominium, part of a major redevelopment of the famed seaside resort.

Fasano will operate a 100-room hotel and provide service for 75 condos there. HFZ Capital Group paid $175 million for the property in December 2013 and expects to spend up to that amount on renovations and expansions at the site, currently a 309-room hotel.

The hotel at the Shore Club will be Fasano’s first project outside South America. Fasano aims to compete with other fashionable luxury names in Miami like W Hotels, Edition and the Setai. HFZ Chairman Ziel Feldman says he expects the hotel’s average daily rates to be around $600 after opening in 2017.

Fasano’s deal is the latest sign that Miami and its beaches are becoming the new testing ground for hotel brands entering the U.S., especially for ones that appeal to the increasingly important market of travelers from Latin America.

“What’s driving this is the growing middle class in South America,” says Scott Smith, a hotel analyst at PKF Consulting.

Chile’s Atton Hotels is building its first U.S. property in Miami; it is slated to open next year in the city’s financial district. Spain’s ME by Melia brand is preparing its first U.S. hotel with a property in downtown Miami.

Other international brands are flocking to South Florida as well. Hong Kong’s Swire Hotels is planning to open its first EAST Hotel in the U.S. at a $1 billion downtown development called Brickell City Centre. Singapore’s COMO Hotels and Resorts opened its first U.S. hotel on Miami Beach last year.

Foreign brands are attracted to a market that is both growing and increasingly diverse. The greater Miami area draws roughly half its overnight visitors from abroad, according to market-research firm Ipsos Research. The 14.6 million total visitors to the metro area in 2014 was a record high.

Miami hotel’s revenue per available room during the first six months of 2015 was $175.80, one of the highest in the U.S., according to hotel data tracker STR Inc. That figure is up 7.4% over the year-ago period and half again as much as in 2010, when hotels were still feeling the effects of the economic downturn.

Hotel analysts say Miami is becoming more of a year-round destination, with South Americans and Europeans picking up the slack during the traditionally slower summer months.

However, hotel developers’ burgeoning interest in the area is raising some new concerns about an abundance of new supply. Miami has more than 12,000 hotel rooms in the construction pipeline, or nearly one-quarter of the existing hotel room count, according to data company Lodging Econometrics.

“That’s likely to lead to some pressure on room rates, thought it will be offset somewhat by continuing growth in demand,” said J.P. Ford, senior vice president at Lodging Econometrics.

Earlier this year, HFZ refinanced $185 million of debt on the Shore Club through Banco Inbursa, a Mexican bank owned by billionaire Carlos Slim. The developer also hired Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld to oversee the property’s redesign, which includes a gut renovation of the hotel and residential buildings and putting up new townhouses.

São Paulo-based Fasano is relatively new to the hotel scene. Over its century-plus history, the company made its name with upscale Italian restaurants, known for their bar scene and live bossa nova music.

Rogerio Fasano, chairman and part of the fourth generation in the company, said he was studying film in London when he decided to return to Brazil to get involved with the family business. In 2003, he launched the company’s first hotel with a property in São Paulo.

Fasano has two other hotels in Brazil and one in Uruguay. It also has plans for a hotel on Manhattan’s 57th St. to open about a year after the Miami Beach hotel, Mr. Fasano said.

Despite the small number of properties, Mr. Fasano said his hotels are well known with an affluent international crowd, drawing an equal number of Brazilian, European and U.S. travelers.

Mr. Fasano says not long ago he spotted director Francis Ford Coppola at the restaurant in his Rio de Janeiro hotel. The former film student approached the Oscar winner shyly, saying “I think you are one of my heroes.”

“I might be,” Mr. Fasano recalls the filmmaker replying. “But please don’t let anyone know I am here.”

Source: WSJ