CHEVY CHASE, MD-The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC is in growth mode, with plans to expand in a number of overseas and North American markets over the next two years. It is also in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation of many existing assets. According to a statement by Simon Cooper, president and COO, this year worldwide investment totals over $350 million. Similar totals are expected in 2007.

In San Francisco, for instance, the 100-year-old historic building on Nob Hill has been redesigned and expanded to add 17 new suites for $14 million. Hotel Arts, Barcelona completed a $30-million renovation of all guestrooms and suites, and also opened a Six Senses Spa with ocean views.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, on the Southern California coastline, $40 million was spent to completely renovate the rooms and public spaces, as well as add a spa, ocean front fitness center and new fine dining restaurant. At the Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, both the Summer Pavilion and Tea Garden restaurants have been renovated, the fitness center modernized, and guestrooms redesigned, for a total of $25 million.

Other renovations include a $40-million facelift at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, which among other developments added several presidential suites overlooking the Caribbean and the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach’s $60-million renovation, which included a 28,000-sf spa. The next resort to begin its renovation process is the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, in Hawaii, which will investment in excess of $75 million, commencing in 2007. In other hotels amenities like flat screen televisions and wireless technology have been upgraded.

At the same time new hotels are under construction in Moscow, St. Lucia, and Turk and Caicos in the Caribbean. In North America, the hotel group plans to establish operations in Denver, Dallas, Lake Tahoe and Toronto. This past Saturday the company opened its just completed 63rd hotel in Beijing. Between 2006 and 2009, the company will open 26 hotels, 20 Ritz-Carlton Residences, six Ritz-Carlton Clubs and two serviced apartments at various locations around the world.

Vikram Antin, an associate with Marcus & Millichap’s National Hospitality Group here, tells that luxury hotels are the best performing submarket in the hotel asset class. Citing industry figures from the first week in October, he noted that the luxury segment had the highest increase in average daily rates and the lowest drop in occupancies.

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