San Antonio’s Illustrious Hotel Contessa Changes Hands

Acting on behalf of Hixon Properties, Hodges Ward Elliott arranged the sale of the 265-key lodging destination.
Hotel Contessa
Hotel Contessa. Image courtesy of Hodges Ward Elliott

Hotel Contessa, an all-suite luxury hotel along the banks of the famed Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio has come under new ownership, courtesy of a transaction orchestrated by Hodges Ward Elliott. HWE performed double-duty on the deal, arranging the sale of the 265-key property on behalf of Hixon Properties and advising buyer Wheelock Street Capital on acquisition financing.

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As is the case in many markets across the U.S., hotel trading activity in the San Antonio area is anything but vigorous in the pandemic-impacted economic climate. “There are very few assets on the market today but there are certain instances where a seller can sell, and a buyer is willing to buy,” John Bourret​, managing director with Hodges Ward Elliott, told Commercial Property Executive. “The current environment is still incredibly challenging given various parts of the country in different stages of shutdown/lockdown. However, there is clearly optimism surrounding the recently announced vaccines and their imminent distribution.”

Hotel Contessa opened its doors to its first guests in 2005, a development project of Hixon and Hines Interests. Located at 306 W. Market St., the 12-story lodging destination sits just one block from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and three blocks from the historic site, The Alamo. The Butler Rosenbury and Partners-designed property boasts a host of coveted amenities, including 10,000 square feet of premier function space, a restaurant and bar, rooftop pool and a full-service spa. Hotel Contessa got a sprucing-up via an extensive renovation program in 2015 and will benefit from an additional upgrade under Whitlock’s ownership.  

Dollars and cents

The parties involved in the trade of Hotel Contessa have not divulged the financial terms of the transaction; however, according to Bexar County records, the asset has a current assessed value of approximately $52.4 million. Likewise, HWE is not at liberty to identify the lender that provided Wheelock with an undisclosed amount of acquisition funds but attests that financing is readily available under the right conditions. “The lending market is very similar to the equity market in that there is plenty of liquidity assuming the opportunity is properly priced from a risk/reward perspective,” Bourret said.

Hotel Contessa marks Wheelock’s entrée into the San Antonio hospitality market, as well as the company’s first acquisition since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. Wheelock, which is planning to invest capital in the renovation of the hotel, has tapped HEI Hotels & Resorts to manage the property. Benchmark Resorts & Hotels had been responsible for operations since the property’s opening 15 years ago.