Swire Hotels to Debut in U.S. at $1.5B M-U Development in Downtown Miami

Hong Kong-based Swire Hotels will make its entrée into the U.S. with the opening of EAST, Miami at Brickell City Centre.

EAST Miami

Hong Kong-based Swire Hotels will make its entrée into the U.S. with the opening of EAST, Miami at Brickell City Centre. The hotel, which will sit within Swire Properties Inc.’s $1.5 billion mixed-use Brickell City Centre development, will open its doors to guests in 2015.

While Swire Hotels and Miami-based Swire Properties Inc. are both divisions of Hong Kong’s Swire Properties Ltd., the connection did not prevent a competition for the opportunity to flag the one hotel that will grace the 5.4 million-square-foot Brickell City Centre. No less than 10 upscale hotel brands vied for the honor, but Swire Hotels’ new EAST brand won out. It’s wasn’t just the allure of the mixed-use project, it was Miami itself that served as a magnet for hotel owners.

“Miami has sort of made the switch from a resort market to a global gateway city and given the expansion of the businesses and industry and Latin trade that we have seen and investor interest in owning property in Miami, it certainly puts us at another scale,” Andrew Cohan, vice president with hospitality consulting firm HVS, told Commercial Property Executive.

EAST, Miami will feature 263 luxury guestrooms, as well as the EAST Residences, 89 serviced apartments that will cater to long-term stay visitors. Designed by the architectural firm of Arquitectonica, the 41-story lodging destination will offer the largest average room size among hotels in Miami. And there’s certainly a market for both the guestrooms and the serviced apartments.

“There are lots of folks throughout Latin America that need to come to Miami for a week or more, two or three or four times a year; some people come up for a week every month,” Cohan added. “Mexico’s culture is Mexican, Brazil’s culture is Brazilian but Miami’s culture is Latin American. We’re not restricted to one country.”

And, as unlikely as it may seem to some, the art world also plays a big role in Miami’s emergence as an international player in the upscale hotel market. Miami is one of the three global locations of the popular annual international art show, Art Basel.

“Art collectors hang out with the same people as hotel investors so we get that really wealthy crowd from New York and Paris and all over the world, and that really has helped bring attention,” Cohan concluded. “So [the Miami luxury hotel market’s success] has been a lot about the arts and it’s been a lot about our South American connection.”

Miami is expected to get its share of new hotels in the near future. According to a report by PKF Hospitality Research, Miami is one of six cities that will experience an increase in room inventory exceeding 4 percent over the next two years. Still, it won’t be enough to oversaturate the market. Despite the new additions, PKF forecasts that the Miami hotel market will continue to perform above its long-run average through 2018.

“This is an indication that current hotel development activity is being driven by market demand, not the artificial tax and financing incentives or excess liquidity that caused overbuilding during past recovery periods,” R. Mark Woodworth, president of PKF-HR, noted in the report.