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ST. PETE BEACH, FL-It took two years to complete but the Plasencia Group Inc. of Tampa, FL got the deal done–an $83.1-million sale of 20% ownership to Loews Hotels in Florida’s legendary, 75-year-old, 277-room Don CeSar Beach Resort & Spa.

Cigna Corp., majority owner in the legendary West Central Florida property, values the deal at $300,000 per room, says Lou Plasencia, president and CEO of Plasencia Group. The resort will be renamed the Don CeSar Beach Resort, a Loews Hotel.

“This transaction allows both parties to meet important strategic goals,” Plasencia says. “Our client, Cigna, asked that we identify a partner that could effectively enhance the positioning of a world-class resort, particularly in the higher-end group and transient markets in the Northeast.”

At the same time, Loews was seeking brand-growth opportunities in the beachfront destination resort arena, Plasencia says. “The Don is truly a Florida classic and an irreplaceable resort asset that has withstood the test of time,” the broker says. He calls the deal, “a win-win transaction for these two important players in the real estate and hospitality industries.”

Plasencia Group represented Cigna in the asset management of the resort and the eventual marketing of the joint-venture interest over a two-year period. Plasencia also worked with Cigna and Loews to structure a contract for the branding and management of the Don CeSar.

Dan Peek, Plasencia Group’s vice president, says the transaction was “seamless” to the resort’s guests. “The Don CeSar’s general manager, John Marks, has put together a strong management team that remains in place to provide the unique service and attention to detail that defines the resort,” Peek says. The resort has 50 suites and two penthouses along with the regular guest rooms.

Founded in 1993, the Plasencia Group has closed transactions totaling 11,000 hotel rooms valued at over $1 billion in the past 12 months, Lou Plasencia says. Among the deals were the sales of the Jacksonville Marriott in Jacksonville, FL; the 405-room Norfolk Marriott Waterside in Norfolk, VA; the 197-room Marriott Waterford Hotel in Oklahoma City, OK; and the 279-room Palm Beach Gardens Marriott in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

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