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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL-HEI Hospitality of Norwalk, CT has purchased its fourth hotel this year with the $56-million acquisition of the 333-suite Embassy Suites Orlando-Lake Buena Vista Resort. The 14-year-old property is minutes from Walt Disney World.

HEI paid Chicago-based Strategic Hotel Capital Inc. $168,168 per unit for the property and plans to invest about $6 million over the next two years to renovate the guest rooms and public areas, Steve Mendell, HEI executive vice president of acquisitions and development, says in a prepared statement. Merritt Hospitality, a wholly owned subsidiary of HEI, will operate the hotel at 8100 Lake Ave., about a mile from Disney’s entrance.

Mendell says the deal was done at this time because “the Orlando market has recovered well since the hurricanes of a year ago, and the city remains the nation’s number one tourist destination, drawing in excess of 43 million visitors last year.” He says HEI “continues to have a healthy appetite for upscale properties in markets with high barriers to new competition.” The company is looking to buy “stabilized and turnaround hotels or portfolios of first class, full-service hotels and resorts with 200 to 500 rooms.”

Mendell adds, “The all-suite Embassy brand, with its spacious two-room accommodations, is by far the most ideally suited product for the Orlando market.” The hotel has 5,600 sf of meeting space in six rooms; a 3,100-sf ballroom with 14-foot ceilings; an indoor and outdoor swimming pool; and tennis courts.

Embassy Suites was on the market for about 60 days. Mark Gordon of Sonnenblick Goldman in New York brokered the transaction. An HEI representative declined to disclose the occupancy rate of the property at closing. However, area hotel brokers familiar with the Lake Buena Vista submarket tell the estimated occupancy was in the 75% range, considered above average at this time by industry standards.

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