HAWAII-The Hualalai Resort here has changed earlier this month for around $550 million, making it one of the largest hotel deals in US history. The developer, Tokyo-based Kajima Corp., sold the 865-acre to a joint venture that includes MSD Capital, the private investment firm of Dell computer founder Michael Dell and his family, and an investment fund of Boston-based Rockpoint Group.

Hualalai at Historic Ka‘upulehu is one of the most exclusive master-planned residential resort communities in the world. Located 15 minutes north of Kona International Airport on the Big Island, the property includes the 234-room Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu, a partially developed 300-unit residential community, two golf courses. The hotel opened in 1994. Its average daily rate and average occupancy are believed to be upward of $750 and 90%, respectively, putting it atop the Hawaii hotel market and among the best in the US.

Kajima is a developer that tends to sell once properties are at or near completion. With the residential portion nearing completion and unsolicited offers pouring in, Kajima figured it time to sell, says Arthur Buser, managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, which arranged the transaction.Citing confidentiality agreements, Buser declined to confirm the sale price, the performance figures or the amount of debt arranged for the acquisition, which at 75% leverage would be about $412 million. Buser would say the sale represents the second largest hotel deal in US history, behind the $675-million sale of the Plaza Hotel in New York in 2004, and that the property’s ADR and occupancy are “the highest in Hawaii and one of the highest in the US.”

Looking ahead, Buser says there is room to add structures to the property, whether they are hotel rooms or private residences. “There are a number of acres left to develop,” Buser says. “The hotel has flourished under the current configuration so nobody should expect they will add a large tower but there is absolutely development potential.”

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