Miami Wyndham to get $14 million rehab, Marriott flag
By Sherri C. Ranta
The Wyndham Miami Biscayne Bay hotel will convert to a Marriott Renaissance in October under a deal that includes $14 million in renovations during the next two years and brings together two sites that combined offer 58,000 square feet of conference space.
"Given how we feel about the area - the performing arts renaissance going on in the area - we see that area attracting a lot more visitors in the coming years," said Karim Alibhai, principal of the property.
The 528-guest-room hotel at 1601 Biscayne Blvd. is to be renamed Renaissance Miami Biscayne Bay and be managed by Marriott veteran Richard Morse, he said.
The deal would bring the Wyndham and soon-to-be sister property, Marriott Biscayne Bay, 1633 N Bayshore Drive, under the same management company, Mr. Alibhai said.
The Alibhai Group and Weiser-Lefton Group own both properties, which are connected above street level by a skybridge.
"We see a lot of synergy in the properties being operated by the same operator and combining together as an 1,100-plus room facility for major groups and conventions," Mr. Alibhai said.
The Wyndham has about 43,000 square feet of conference space, one of the largest of any hotel in Miami, Mr Alibhai said. The Marriott Biscayne Bay offers about 15,000 square feet of meeting area.
The Wyndham opened in 1978 and the Marriott Biscayne Bay opened in the early 1980s, he said.
Renovations are expected to begin in the fall and be completed in two years or less and will include improvements to all guest rooms and conference rooms and a new restaurant, he said. Guest-room renovations will be done next summer on a floor-by-floor basis.
The renovations, drawn by architect Pedro Ramos of Miami, with interior design work by an Atlanta firm, will have an arts theme, in keeping with the overall plans for that section of Miami, Mr. Alibhai said. A contractor still needs to be selected.
The planned performing arts center, awaiting approval from the county commission on Sept. 11, will straddle Biscayne Boulevard between Northeast 13th and 14th streets.
"Over the last three years, the ownership has spent $8 million in upgrades. An additional $12 million will be spent over the next two years that will take the hotel to a new level," Mr. Alibhai said.
Owners also plan to invest another $2 million in hotel system upgrades such as cooling, heating and water systems, he said. New York-based Lehman Bros. Holdings, an investment bank, will finance $13 million for the improvement project, he said.
Under the agreement, Mr. Alibhai said, Wyndham and Marriott will basically swap properties - Wyndham will gain a Marriott property in Pittsburgh and Marriott will operate the Marriott Biscayne Bay and Renaissance Miami Biscayne Bay as separate entities.
"It was a win-win situation for Wyndham and Marriott," he said.
There was some "financial consideration," he said, but both companies wanted to the make the switch. Marriott wanted this location for a Renaissance brand and Wyndham, with several properties in Miami, had none in Pittsburgh.
Mr. Alibhai is a principal in GENCOM, a Miami- and Houston-based real estate firm specializing in hospitality-related sites. The group has ownership in Ritz-Carltons, Marriotts and Wyndhams in US, Canada and Mexico.