Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Carlyle Group pursuing Postcard Inn, La Siesta

ISLAMORADA -- The Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, has set its sights on two additional Islamorada resorts.

"As you may have heard, we are planning on acquiring Postcard Inn and Las Siesta at the end of August," Thad Paul, managing director for the Carlyle Group, wrote in a July 23 email to Islamorada Planning Director Cheryl Cioffari. "We'll obviously have a lot invested in Islamorada at that point, and we're eager to get through our renovations at all four properties in a timely fashion, with hopes of maximizing revenue for the properties and therefore the village by way of tax revenues."

Carlyle's interest in the Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle and La Siesta comes on the heels of its purchases of the Pelican Cove and former Hampton Inn properties, both within the past 11 months.

With 151 rooms, Postcard Inn is Islamorada's largest resort. La Siesta has 51 rooms. Both properties are presently owned by Starwood Capital Group in Greenwich, Conn.

Paul declined to discuss the apparent contracts on Postcard Inn and La Siesta during a Free Press interview last week.

"We can't comment on any potential deals," he said.

But he did speak in general terms about Carlyle's interest in Islamorada, saying the company views the village's strong restrictions on growth in the lodging sector as a positive.

"It's really the supply-and-demand characteristics, which we focus on for all of our investments," Paul said.

Carlyle purchased the Upper Matecumbe Key Hampton Inn in February for $18.3 million. It acquired Pelican Cove, mile marker 84.4, bayside, for $10.6 million last September.

Last month, Carlyle began exterior work on the former Hampton Inn property, which it is temporarily calling the Islamorada Resort. Work on the rooms and public areas of the hotel will commence in August, Paul said.

As part of the project, Carlyle will divide some of the building's suites, thereby turning 79 units into 105. The goal is to reposition the property as a four-star hotel, he said. A new name for the resort is to be unveiled in approximately a month.

Carlyle will also begin room renovations at Pelican Cove as soon as this week, Paul said.

In his July 23 email, Paul asked Cioffari to facilitate a meeting with Mayor Ted Blackburn.

"I think it would make sense to set up a 'meet and greet' meeting with the mayor given all of our current and pending investments here," he wrote.

As of the end of last year, Carlyle had $12 billion in real estate holdings under management, according to the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The properties were spread in 186 cities worldwide.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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