Bethesda, Md.-based Host Hotels & Resorts is buying the Westin Kierland Resort, Spa and Villas on the Scottsdale-north Phoenix border for $393 million, more than twice what the previous owners spent to build it three years ago.
Host, which also owns the Ritz Carlton Phoenix, the Marriott at McDowell Mountain in Scottsdale and 127 other luxury properties, bought the sprawling 732-room resort and 27-hole golf course from its developers and financial backers. That includes the Herberger family, Kierland master developer Woodbine, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and other financial investors.
Starwood, which manages as well as owns hotels, will continue to run the Westin Kierland, said Bruce Lange, the resort’s general manager.
In fact, nothing about the Westin Kierland is pegged to change with the new ownership except where the money goes, Lange said.
At least at first.
Typically, hotel buyers budget extra cash to spruce up their new properties.
“The good news is this hotel is relatively new and has no immediate requirements for improvements,” Lange said. “But that doesn’t mean the new owners might not have their hit list.”
Lange has his own wish list and expects to meet with Host representatives soon to present his take on how to “make the resort even more competitive,” he said.
Among his hoped-for budget items are establishing a golf academy, enlarging the spa, upgrading the pool complex and redoing all the guest rooms, he said.
Lange doesn’t have a price tag for those items yet. The guest room upgrades have been slated for 2008, and Lange is formulating a budget for that now.
He said having Host as owner can only be positive for the hotel’s guests and local folks who like to use its upscale facilities.
“In this marketplace you have to be four- or fivediamond quality to be competitive, and Host understands the four- and five-diamond market,” he said.
Lange sees the symbiotic relationship with sister Starwood-run properties such as the Phoenician and the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Indian Community to remain the same since the management of the Westin won’t change.
“Synergies will always be brand-aligned rather than ownership-aligned,” he said.
The Westin opened in November 2002, centerpiece of the Kierland development, a 730-acre residential-retailoffice-resort complex that stretches along the west side of Scottsdale Road from Acoma Drive north nearly to Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
Host president Christopher Nassetta said the company has been looking to expand its north East Valley presence and the Westin fits its pricey portfolio.
“We are thrilled to be acquiring this recentlyconstructed, world-class asset in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale market, which is a strong growth market in which we have been seeking greater representation,” Nassetta said in a prepared statement announcing the Westin purchase.