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Ripple effect of Hard Rock, Brown & Brown, Protogroup projects already being felt

Efforts to revitalize Daytona Beach’s blighted beachside and historic downtown are already getting a boost from a trio of high-profile developments, local observers say.

The new Hard Rock Hotel on A1A, which opened March 1, has already sparked interest in the area from other hotel developers.

So has Protogroup’s Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums complex also going up along A1A, at the east end of Oakridge Boulevard.

Meanwhile insurance giant Brown & Brown Inc.’s planned 10-story headquarters on Beach Street has also resulted in the sale of two neighboring properties.

Since November, Tim Davis of SVN Alliance Commercial Real Estate Advisors said he has had five different developers from south and west Florida contact him to take them on tours of the area’s beachside.

“The first thing they want to see is the Hard Rock, where it’s at (progress-wise), its proximity to the Ocean Center (convention center) and what opportunities are available (for potential hotel and/or condominium projects),” Davis said.

Of the Hard Rock, Davis said, “They want to see it, walk through it and see the level of quality.”

The reason has nothing to do with whether they are rock music fans.

What’s got them intrigued, according to Davis, is the fact that the Hard Rock is an upscale, four-star-level resort in an area generally not known for high-end hotels, with a few exceptions.

The Hard Rock is on the site of the former Desert Inn, a rundown 1950s-era hotel described a few years ago by TripAdvisor as one of the nation’s dirtiest hotels.

Converting it into a Hard Rock was a $40 million gamble by local developer Summit Hospitality Management Group, whose managing partner Abbas Abdulhussein described in an interview last year as a “flight to quality.”

Abdulhussein explained his belief that given the option, there would be enough visitors and even locals willing to pay a little extra than the current average daily room rate for the Daytona Beach area to stay in a higher-end hotel like the Hard Rock.

So far, that appears to be the case, says Davis, who recently stopped by the Hard Rock with friends for a late night drink and was pleasantly surprised to see it bustling with guests.

“We were at the bar and I pulled up hotels.com and there were no rooms available that night,” Davis said of the 200-room Hard Rock.

Also making a strong impression on the visiting developers that Davis took on tours of the area was Protogroup’s planned 501-room Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums project.

The massive complex, upon completion, will include two towers, one 31 stories high, the other 28, both of which will be the tallest in Daytona Beach. With an estimated project cost of $192 million, it is also believed to be the most expensive hotel/condo project ever to be developed in Daytona Beach.

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Two Daytona-area hotels listed among world’s best

DAYTONA BEACH — Two area hotels have been honored by U.S. News & World Report with spots on the publication’s 2018 list of Best Hotels, a worldwide evaluation that includes more than 24,000 luxury hotels across the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.

Among the statewide rankings, the Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores placed at No. 153 among rankings of 293 Florida hotels. On the same list, the 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort was ranked at No. 239.

The Shores Resort also received a silver badge to denote its finish in the top 30 percent of ranked hotels for a particular destination. Among U.S. News city hotel lists for 2018, the Shores and the Hilton, in that order, were the only two hotels to make the list for Daytona Beach.

“It’s exciting,” said Rich Byrd, general manager of the 212-room Shores Resort. “Our team has worked hard for that and we have made a lot of changes to our service levels here. We’re rated as a four-diamond resort by AAA, but we train our staff at a five-diamond level and they work very hard to achieve that.”

With new properties such as the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Daytona Beach Shores and the Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach being added to the landscape, the area is poised to potentially add more hotels to the U.S. News list in coming years, said Jim Berkley, general manager of the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.

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Officials: Daytona Hard Rock on track for February opening

DAYTONA BEACH — The World’s Most Famous Beach could be jumping to the sounds of the long-awaited Hard Rock Hotel as soon as this coming Valentine’s Day.

That is the tentative target opening date for the new oceanfront resort under construction on the site of the former Desert Inn at 918 N. Atlantic Ave.

While the exterior still looks unfinished to passersby along S.R. A1A, hotel officials who recently met with The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Editorial Board, said the inside of the planned 200-room hotel is “very close” to being finished.

The hotel has already begun accepting reservations on its website, although March 1 is the first day rooms are currently available for booking.

“We can’t share a specific opening date right now … but it could be as early as Feb. 14,” said Kevin Hines, the hotel’s general manager. He added that the opening will definitely be in “early 2018.”

‘ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC’

Hines and Susan Keaveney, the hotel’s director of marketing, said the rock music-themed hotel, when it finally opens, will be unlike anything the Daytona Beach area has ever seen.

“It’s spectacular. It is going to be a four-diamond hotel,” said Keaveney, formerly director of marketing for The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores, the area’s only AAA Auto Club’s four-diamond-rated hotel.

In keeping with the Hard Rock’s other locations, the Daytona Beach hotel, which will be just the 25th internationally and fourth in Florida, will be chock full of luxury amenities, all with a twist that incorporates music, both in its decor as well as in its offering of live music several days a week throughout the year.

“The brand is all about music,” said Keaveney, who along with Hines, wore a guitar-shaped pin bearing the words “Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.” Hard Rock pins are collectible items only available for purchase on-site at the hotels.

“People travel all over the world just to get a pin — it’s not available online,” Hines said.

The hotel will also have displays of rock music memorabilia, some possibly with a local connection, said Hines and Keaveney.

“It will literally be an on-site music museum,” Hines said. “That’s one of the draws of the Hard Rock.”

When asked if the memorabila could be related to the Allman Brothers, the legendary Southern rock band whose founding leaders were from Daytona Beach, or other Florida rockers such as Lynrd Skynrd or Tom Petty, Hines said, “We like to keep it as a surprise (but) they would seem like obvious choices.”

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