Boca Resort Gets New Owner; Will Maintain Hilton Management

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

The Boca Raton Resort & Club, the nearly century-old seaside hostelry designed by famed architect Addison Mizner, is about to change hands, according to a press release from the new owner, MSD Partners, L.P.

The firm is an offshoot of MSD Capital, the private investment firm for Michael S. Dell and his family. Dell founded Dell Computer, among other business ventures.

MSD Partners notified the media it “has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Boca Raton Resort & Club from an affiliate of Blackstone.”

The vacation and business destination that now offers 1,047 hotel rooms and amenities spread across 337 acres at 501 East Camino Real opened in 1926, and has been operating continuously since then by various owners.

Terms of the transaction, which the news release said is expected to close by the end of the second quarter, were not disclosed. The property will continue to be managed by Hilton under the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts brand. Jeffrey Davis and Gregory Rumpel of JLL Hotels & Hospitality led the marketing efforts for the property on behalf of the seller.

The resort is currently owned by an affiliate of the Blackstone Group, which purchased the property in 2004 from Boca Resorts Inc. for $1.25 billion. Multi-billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga Sr. owned Boca Resorts Inc. at the time of the sale. He passed away in 2018.

Before the spring of 2009, LXR Luxury Resorts operated the resort.

The property’s amenities include two 18-hole golf courses, a 50,000-square-foot spa, seven swimming pools, 30 tennis courts, a 32-slip marina, 13 restaurants and bars and 200,000-square-feet of meeting space. The property fronts both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, where its beach extends a half mile.

“This [transaction] represents the beginning of a wonderful next chapter in the story of Boca Raton Resort & Club,” said John Tolbert, currently president and managing director. “Since its founding, Boca Raton Resort & Club has been a truly special place.”

“Boca Raton Resort & Club is irreplaceable real estate in a rapidly growing South Florida market,” said Coburn Packard, a partner at MSD Partners, L.P. and co-head of MSD’s real estate group.

“This investment represents a natural extension of our portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts and complements our Four Seasons properties in Wailea and Hualalai and the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica,” said Barry Sholem, a partner at MSD Partners, L.P. and co-head of MSD’s real estate group.

Rob Harper, senior managing director at Blackstone, said, “We are proud of our investments in the Boca Raton Resort & Club and know that the best-in-class customer experience will continue under the ownership of MSD Partners.” Blackstone said it invested more than $300 million in the 501 East Camino Real property.

Michael Saul Dell, 54, an American businessman, investor, philanthropist, and author, is the founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, one of the world’s largest technology infrastructure companies. He is ranked as the 39th richest person in the world by Forbes, with a net worth of $28.6 billion as of September 2018.

In 2011, his 243.35 million shares of Dell Inc. stock were worth $3.5 billion, giving him 12 percent ownership of the company. His remaining wealth of roughly $10 billion is invested in other companies and is managed by a firm whose name, MSD Capital, incorporates Dell’s initials.

Addison Mizner was the architect whose Spanish-inspired designs changed the face, cityscape and lifestyle of Boca Raton in the early days of its incorporation as a municipality. He opened the Resort as The Cloister Inn on Feb. 6, 1926.

About a year later, Clarence H. Geist purchased the resort at auction after the Mizner Development Corp. went bankrupt, the victim of the mid-1920s Florida land bust. An original supporter of Mizner, the wealthy Philadelphia utilities company owner purchased the assets for $71,500 in cash and assumption of about $7 million in debt, said the late Boca historian Donald Curl in his book, “Addison Mizner in Boca Raton.”

Subsequently, the U.S. Army used the club as a barracks during World War II. The J. Myer Schine family then purchased the spot in the mid-1940s, renaming it the Boca Hotel and Club. The resort was part of the Schine hotel portfolio which included the Biltmore and McAllister hotels.

Arthur Vining Davis, whose brainchild was the Arvida Corporation, acquired the hotel next. He opened the Boca Raton Club Tower in 1969 and constructed the resort’s beach club in 1980 on State Road A1A. In February 2009, the Beach Club underwent a $150 million renovation while the tower rooms were redesigned in 2006.

VMS Realty (Van Kampen, Morris, Stone) Inc., the successors to Arvida regarding ownership, purchased the property in 1983 and gave the hotel the name is still bears today, the Boca Raton Resort & Club, in 1988.