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B Hotels & Resorts growing in Miami, Orlando

Miami Herald

06/5/2012

The first b2 hotel will open in downtown Miami early next year, followed by a B resort near Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista.

“B” is for bigger.

That was true at least on Monday, when Weston-based B Hotels & Resorts announced plans to open a third B resort in Florida and its first b2 hotel in downtown Miami.

The company entered the market in January 2011 with B Ocean Fort Lauderdale, a fully renovated beachfront property that was once a Holiday Inn.

Later that year, plans for a B South Beach — at the site of the 251-room Continental Oceanfront South Beach Hotel at 1825 Collins Ave. — were announced. That hotel is scheduled to launch under the new name in the first quarter of 2013. The B vibe is clean and chic with a focus on the guest experience, including curated music, lighting and signature scents — and free Wi-Fi.

The latest plans expand the B portfolio to Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney resort area. A joint venture between InSite Group, based in Weston, and London-based Cube Capital bought the Royal Plaza in Lake Buena Vista last December for $16 million. The same companies purchased the B Ocean properties in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach.

Plans for the 394-room hotel in Lake Buena Vista, scheduled to open in late 2013, include a total renovation to make it a four-star property.

“It’s such a great destination to gain exposure for the brand,” said Christopher Tompkins, senior vice president of marketing and brand programs for B Hotels & Resorts.

Downtown Miami’s former Continental Bayside Hotel at 146 Biscayne Blvd. will become the first b2 hotel after a major renovation. The brand is meant to share features of B hotels on a smaller, and lower-priced, scale. Tompkins said a b2 hotel might have one restaurant instead of two, a spa suite instead of a full spa and prices in the 3- to 3 1/2-star scale rather than 3 1/2- to 4-star for B hotels.

While Tompkins wouldn’t say what rates the b2 hotel might command, online travel site Expedia shows that the three-star Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Miami is priced at $99 a night for a mid-June weekend. Advance purchase rates start at just over $150 a night for the same weekend at B Ocean Fort Lauderdale.

The company refers to the b2 brand as “value-full-service.”

Purchased by InSite Group and affiliates of the Carlyle Group in September for $13.5 million, the new b2 is expected to officially launch at the beginning of 2013.

Miami hotel consultant Scott Brush said that type of resort could appeal to business travelers who don’t want to shell out for some of downtown’s more costly properties. He also pointed out that the 243-room property, across from Bayside, the Port of Miami and the AmericanAirlines Arena, doesn’t have the space for typical resort amenities.

Said Brush: “They’re taking the bones of the facility and doing the best thing you can do with it.”

By Hannah Sampson

hsampson@MiamiHerald.com

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