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MIAMI-Spain-based Sol Melia has been assigned to manage the historic, Art Deco-style hotel at 1545 Collins Ave. in South Beach that currently operates as the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza. Following a $10-million renovation now under way and scheduled for completion at the end of this year, it will be re-branded Melia Royal Palm.

It will be Sol Melia’s first Melia-branded property in the US. It plans 10 for the US over the next five years, obtained through partnerships and/or management agreements, according to Andre P. Gerondeau, Sol Melia’s EVP for North America and the Caribbean. The company lays claim to being the third largest hotel company in Europe and the largest resort company in the world with interests in 350 hotels in 30 countries under five brands: Melia, Tryp, Sol, Paradisus Resorts and Hard Rock Hotel. It manages Hard Rock properties in New York, Chicago and Puerto Rico.

Chicago-based Falor Cos. acquired the 417-key Royal Palm for a record $128 million in December 2004. The previous owner, Peebles Atlantic Development Corp., acquired it in 1998 in an auction by Miami Beach City Commission to establish an African-American-owned hotel here. The property contains two towers. Of the 417 rooms, 167 are being converted into condo-hotel units.

San Diego-based Graham Downes Architecture is handling the renovations. Graham Downes, CEO, tells GlobeSt.com it “will be a complete repositioning of the property,” but the historic exterior facade will remain intact. The lobby will move to a 4,000-sf area “in the heart of the hotel, and the current check-in area will be converted into an exhibition bar with two distinct identities, a `water bar’ by day and a ‘martini bar’ by night.”

Additional renovations include “an outdoor area with a multitude of seating and lounging options on the arrival terrace with café dining, and at pool level, where there will be a wading pool that doubles as a series of spas and has a waterfall into the pool at the lower terrace,” he says. Hotel rooms will have “saturated and intense colors,” and be equipped with flat screen TVs, DVD/CD players and free high-speed and wireless Internet connections.

Downes’ firm handled renovation of Falor’s three earlier South Beach acquisitions –the Tides, Breakwater and Edison hotels –prior to their conversion to con-do hotels and has also handled renovations of the company’s Chicago properties.

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