THesis Hotel first came off the drawing board seven years ago, when pandemic was still a sci-fi theme.
The developers of the Paseo de la Riviera condo saw it as a much-needed amenity for the lodging desert on the southern edge of Coral Gables, near the University of Miami. The upscale, 254-room hotel would complement the residences and restaurant on South Dixie Highway, near the University Metrorail Station.
For developers of the 155-room Amrit Ocean Resort and Residences in Riviera Beach, the process has run even longer. It has been at least 14 years since they first conceived of the wellness-oriented community for wealthy, beach-hungry visitors and residents interested in nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, sleep and relaxation.
Now, with construction complete, both hotels are opening during the tourism industry’s lowest moment in history. Hotel occupancy in Miami-Dade remained stuck at 30.8% in July, while in Palm Beach County it barely breached 36%, according to travel data group STR. And the debuts come as layoff notices affecting hundreds of hotel workers continue to be filed to the state’s department of economic opportunity.
So far, at least, the two properties are seeing initial signs of success.
THesis developers Nolan Reynolds International delayed the original May opening date in part to coincide with UM’s August reopening. The strategy has paid off; since the hotel opened Aug. 5, it has hosted parents of University students, business travelers and local staycationers taking advantage of a 15% Florida resident discount.
Recommendations by Paseo condo unit owners have also helped fill rooms, said Brent Reynolds, manage partner and CEO.
Although many reservations are made last-minute, predictions for overall volume were strong enough to open, he said.
“It was about realizing that there is going to be an element out there that is going to still be willing to travel,” Reynolds said.
THesis’ website Thursday afternoon showed 10 reservations in the past 48 hours.
While hospitality has taken a hit, it is also typically among the sectors that bounce back fastest following contractions.
“You’re going to start to see people returning from vacation,” Reynolds said. “As business starts to normalize as fall settles in, you’re going to see a pickup.”
Rates start at $150 per night.
As for the Amrit, the pandemic represents a mere bump in the its trajectory. Lead developer Dilip Barot, president and CEO of Creative Choice Group real estate firm, has been working since 2006 — through several lawsuits — to take the project live.
Barot concluded the pandemic would actually strengthen demand for their health-oriented project.
“What we’ve seen is that, now that people are not commuting, they may not be able to run around, and that may be taking a new toll on their well-being,” Barot said.
The hotel is now slated to open in the first quarter of 2021 — but reservations went live this week. So far, Barot said, interest has been strong, though he declined to cite specific figures.
“So many of our services and treatments are already homed in on building immunity and health. That’s our entire philosophy,” said Shama Barot, Creative Choice’s chief strategist; she is also Dilip’s daughter
The property includes 155 hotel rooms and 182 residences — including 11 penthouses with private elevators — on 7.5 acres, with 100,00 square foot of spa and wellness amenity space. Hotel rooms start at about $525 per night, while at least one residence is already under contract for $1.33 million, according to Bex Realty.