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NEW YORK CITY-Blackstone Real Estate Advisors will invest $400 million in improvements to 21 properties it has placed in its newly formed LXR Luxury Resorts brand. This venture comes on the heels of the firm’s closure of its $3.24-billion merger with Wyndham International. Blackstone dubs the group a “collection” of luxury properties that will include hotels, resorts, spas, golf clubs and marinas in the US, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. LXR is comprised of 14 Wyndham properties as well as seven hotels and resorts from Blackstone’s Boca Hospitality Collection and Prime Hospitality holdings. Last year an affiliate of Blackstone merged with Boca Resorts Inc. in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion. Prior to that, the company completed a merger with Fairfield, NJ-based Prime Hospitality Corp valued at $790 million.

Management will include co-presidents Joseph Berger and Jean-Jacques Pergant and president of sales and marketing John Tolbert. They all come from Boca. Blackstone has also engaged a team of creative and culinary talents to help reposition each property. “We aim to respect the integrity and unique offerings that each of these trophy assets has to offer,” Tolbert says.

“It appears to be a strong investment opportunity based on the unique character of each of these properties,” says Michael Fishbin, Ernst & Young’s national director, Hospitality Advisory Services. “We are seeing significant upside opportunity to enhance the value in this sector through freshening up of the existing improvements and the development of for sale components such as whole ownership residences, fractional, condo hotel and club membership.”

Fishbin adds that E&Y is bullish on the sector and should see continued strong growth in demand and limited growth in supply (high barriers to entry) for the next three to four years, particularly on room rates. “The sector is still being led by the leisure traveler and the return of the business traveler and the high end group market will even further strengthen operating potential for these assets.”

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