Blackstone sells Arizona Biltmore hotel to Henderson Park for $705M

Investor pays $1M per room for “Jewel of the Desert” in Phoenix

Henderson Park has cut a deal to buy the historic Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix from Blackstone for $705 million.

The London-based private equity real estate manager will take ownership of the 705-room landmark at 2400 East Missouri Avenue, Bloomberg reported, citing unidentified sources. The deal works out to $1 million per room.

The New York-based investor bought the “Jewel of the Desert” from Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC in 2018 for $403 million, or $571,600 per room.

Blackstone then poured more than $150 million into renovating the birthplace of the tequila sunrise, which opened on Feb. 23, 1929.

The hotel just south of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve is now part of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts collection. 

The “textile block” hotel, designed by Albert Chase McArthur with influences from Frank Lloyd Wright, has hosted Hollywood stars from Clark Gable and Carole Lombard to Marilyn Monroe. Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas” under sunny skies at its Catalina pool.

The hotel hosted future President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan on their honeymoon in 1952. More than a half century later, it put up President George W. Bush.

The 39-acre hotel was bought by William Wrigley Jr., of chewing gum fame, and stayed in the family for decades.

Over the past year, the Arizona Biltmore and other hotels have fared better than other commercial property investments such as offices, according to Bloomberg. While domestic leisure travel has cooled slightly from the post-pandemic boom, resort owners are benefiting from international demand. 

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That buttressed the stocks of U.S. lodging companies, which have outperformed the S&P 500 Index since the end of 2022.

Other investors have sought to cash in on luxury hotels. 

This month, Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management sold a majority stake in the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne to Miami-based Gencom, which already owned a minority interest, for an undisclosed price.

Hyatt Hotels is negotiating a deal to sell the Park Hyatt Zurich to Trinity Investments, Bloomberg reported last month.

A year ago, Blackstone sold its 45-acre, century-old La Quinta Resort & Club near Palm Springs to Henderson Park for $255 million. It was Henderson’s first U.S. investment.

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Henderson Park was launched in 2016 by Mount Kellett executive Nick Weber, who managed to whip up $500 million in equity while working out of his local Starbucks.

Since then, the firm has been a significant investor in European hotels. It bought the Westin Paris-Vendôme in 2018 for $628 million, and sold it in February 2023 to Dubai Holding for $650 million Euros, or $704 million. In 2022, it bought a portfolio of 12 Hilton hotels in the United Kingdom and set up a new platform to manage the business. 

— Dana Bartholomew

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