Florida Keys News
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Hampton Inn rebranded; Outback out

ISLAMORADA -- An independent hotel will soon take over the Hampton Inn and Suites on Upper Matecumbe Key. Also on the way out is the Outback Steakhouse at the Hampton.

"The franchise agreements were not renewed," hotel manager Kara Lundgren said last week.

The rebranded hotel, at mile marker 80, oceanside, will be called The Islamorada Resort. Meanwhile, Lundgren said the Outback will be transformed into an American fare and seafood eatery. She said its name had not yet been chosen.

The conversion of both the hotel and restaurant are likely to happen within the next couple weeks, Lundgren said. But as of last Wednesday the acquisition of the Hampton properties had not closed. A formal time frame will be set once the sale goes through.

The Islamorada Resort is to be managed by Coral Gables-based Trust Hospitality, its website says. Trust, which bills itself as a 25-year-old hotel management company, is also now managing the Pelican Cove Resort on Windley Key.

If the Hampton Inn sale does become final, both The Islamorada Resort and Pelican Cove will be owned by the Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group, Lundgren said.

One of the largest private equity firms in the world, Carlyle is perhaps best known for its acquisition of defense-related industries in the 1990s, as well as for its connections with high-powered politicians, including former President George H.W. Bush.

The company's real estate holdings are also vast. As of the end of 2012, Carlyle had real estate investments in 137 cities around the world, according to the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Changes to the Hampton Inn building won't be immediate once it becomes The Islamorada Resort, Lundgren said. But they are in the works.

On Dec. 23 Carlyle, in concert with current Hampton Inn owner Boca Raton-based EDCO LTD., submitted an application to renovate the existing 79-unit building and to add a second building to its south.

The new building, to be located behind where a vacant gas station now sits, would have six suites and nine hotel rooms, village Planner Shane Laakso said. The renovations of the existing building would involve adding 16 guest units.

Renderings of the upgrade also show that outdoor spaces at the resort would be reconfigured. The swimming pool, for example would be moved closer to the beach.

"It's all very exciting," Lundgren said.

Prior to redevelopment, the site plan would have to be approved by the Village Council.


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