Starwood Sells Two Premier Hotels in Florence

The global hotel company took another step in its strategy to operate, not own.
The St. Regis Florence

The St. Regis Florence

Florence, ItalyStarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. is still keeping it light—asset light, that is. The hospitality company recently completed the disposition of The St. Regis Florence and The Westin Excelsior Florence, selling the Italian properties to Qatar-based Nozul Hotels & Resorts for approximately $213 million.

It was in 2006 when Starwood kicked off its strategy of selling owned properties and focusing on management, and it hasn’t looked back. During Starwood’s earnings conference call February 18, CEO Thomas Mangas said: “We’ve continued our progress against our asset-light strategy, with over $820 million in gross proceeds in 2015 from the sales of hotels and interests in unconsolidated joint ventures, exceeding the goal we laid out beginning of last year.”

And with the sale of St. Regis and Westin Excelsior, 2016 is bringing additional success.

Historically significant and über-upscale, St. Regis Florence and Westin Excelsior are among the most distinguished lodging destinations in Florence. St. Regis, designed by eminent Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi in 1432, opened as Florence’s first luxury hotel in the 1800s. The property features 99 guestrooms, 6,500 square feet of meeting space, a spa and, of course, premier restaurants. Westin Excelsior is none too shabby, either. Originally developed in the 13th Century, the property was home to any number of noble Italian families before being transformed into a hotel in the 1800s. Today the 171-key hotel, most recently renovated in 2014 and 2016, features 5,700 square feet of meeting space and the requisite high-end dining.

Starwood didn’t have to look far for a buyer; it has history with Jaidah Holdings, parent company of Nozul. In 2006, Starwood entered into an agreement with a Jaidah subsidiary to manage W Doha Hotel & Residences in Qatar, the first W Hotel in the Middle East. And in 2015, the company sold The Gritti Palace, Venice to Nozul for roughly $117 million. Starwood continues to manage the property, as it will St. Regis and Westin Excelsior.

The St. Regis and Westin Excelsior transaction follows Starwood’s $78.8 million sale of Austria’s historic 138-key Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna, to Dubai-based Al Habtoor Investment in February. Year to date, Starwood has sold assets in transactions totaling a half-billion dollars. The company edges closer and closer to meeting a goal it announced a few years ago: the disposition of $3 billion of assets. As Mangas noted during the earnings call, “We’re not backing off that target.”