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Hospitality & Leisure

The firm’s multi-disciplinary Hospitality & Leisure group has handled more than $25 billion in client transactions involving hotels, resorts, golf and country clubs, theme parks and water parks, family entertainment centers, ski resorts and marinas throughout the U.S. and Canada. The group brings full-spectrum experience in all aspects of hospitality and leisure asset acquisitions, ownership, operations, financing and dispositions on behalf of our clients, public real estate investment trusts, private equity investors and developers included among them.

Our experience encompasses areas critical to the success of our clients’ hotel and leisure asset investments. We have negotiated and documented purchase and sale agreements, operating agreements, leases, franchise agreements as well as financing agreements on behalf of owners. We have also helped owners obtain permits and government agency approvals necessary for the acquisition, development, construction, operation, sale and leasing of such assets.

Real Estate and Asset Acquisitions
Our involvement goes beyond “dirt, bricks and mortar.” We help our clients investigate and acquire all of the constituent assets including real estate, improvements, intellectual property, brands, subleases and concession agreements, data, receivables, equipment, entitlements, permits, supplies and other tangible and intangible property. By fully immersing ourselves in every detail, we can help our clients structure their acquisitions to achieve their strategic goals.

Permitting/Agency Approvals
The Hospitality & Leisure group’s experience interfacing with governmental entities includes coordinating the issuance of Special Use Permits by the United States Forest Service on behalf of our ski resort clients, negotiating leases with the United States Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of our marina clients, and negotiating with local and state governments to obtain their approval of the creation or the assignment of leasehold interests on behalf of our clients in all leisure asset classes. Moreover, we negotiate Developments of Regional Impact, Development Orders, Preliminary Development Agreements, and we represent clients before the Florida Department of Community Affairs, Regional Planning Councils, Water Management Districts and local governments.

In the State of Florida, we are recognized as an industry leader in real estate, land use and zoning. According to the highly regarded Chambers USA directory, "...the group commands the utmost respect of the hospitality industry." Our multi-disciplinary make-up allows us to address the Hospitality & Leisure industry’s unique challenges relating to labor & employment law, alcoholic beverage licensing and regulation, domestic and international taxation and design and construction as well.

Operating Issues and Agreements
Our attorneys have extensive experience in negotiating hotel and leisure asset ground leases, operating leases, management agreements and franchise agreements on behalf of owners. With respect to hotels, we have negotiated hundreds of management and franchise agreements with national and international operators and brands such as Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Intercontinental, Starwood, Omni, Interstate, Benchmark and others. For our golf course developer and investor clients, our attorneys have negotiated operating leases and management agreements with operators/managers such as Billy Casper Golf, Meadowbrook Golf, Heritage Golf Group, Kemper Sports and Century Golf. We have also negotiated ski resort leases and operating agreements with some of the most well-known marina and ski operators in North America.

Financing
The attorneys in our Hospitality & Leisure group routinely represent clients in connection with unsecured and secured financing transactions, whether as part of an acquisition of assets, as part of a refinancing of existing debt, in connection with the assumption of existing debt or in connection with establishing an operating line of credit. Over the past three years, we have been involved in financing transactions in excess of $3.5 billion. Recently, we represented a non-listed publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in connection with an $85 million revolving line of credit facility which included a $50 million accordion feature and a $25 million letter of credit sub-facility and which was secured by four theme and water parks, six marinas and two ski resorts located in ten different states throughout the U.S. We have extensive experience in financing various interests in real property including fee, leasehold, and governmental issued Special Use Permits. With respect to financing of assets which operate pursuant to a Special Use Permit issued by a governmental body such as the United States Forest Service, we have experience in negotiating the necessary Tri-Party Agreement among the Borrower, Lender and USFS.

Hotels
We have amassed a wealth of experience handling over $15 billion in hotel transactions in recent years. Clients include developers, private equity investors, real estate investment trusts and other owners in all aspects of hotel transactions and ownership, including performing due diligence, handling acquisitions, negotiating management and franchise agreements, handling labor, entitlement and permitting issues, negotiating financing and advising clients as to strategically favorable financing sources and financing structures for their hospitality assets. We have represented owners with respect to all types of hospitality assets and their particular challenges, including resorts, full service and luxury hotels, limited service hotels and unbranded historic and boutique hotels. This includes representing clients with respect to the acquisition and financing of the Grand Wailea Resort and Spa located in Maui, Hawaii, and the Arizona Biltmore Resort located in Phoenix, Arizona, and the acquisition, entitlement, development, construction and operation of the 1400 room Hilton Hotel connected to the Orange County Convention Center.

Ski Resorts
Since 2006, the Hospitality & Leisure group has helped clients acquire over a dozen ski resorts in eight different states with a total value in excess of $500 million. These sophisticated and complex acquisitions involved the integration of resort operations, retail sales and residential development across thousands of acres – for example, day ski operations such as the Mountain High Ski Resort in California and the Brighton Ski Resort in Utah, destination ski resorts such as the Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, the Northstar-at-Tahoe Ski Resort in California, and the Bretton Woods Mountain Resort in New Hampshire.

Golf and Country Clubs
In addition to helping clients acquire over 60 golf courses throughout the United States since 2005, the Hospitality & Leisure group has helped clients at every stage of course development. With in-depth knowledge of specific golf course operating and liability issues, our attorneys help clients negotiate club membership agreements, management agreements, golf play agreements, restrictive covenants, licensing and trademark issues, equipment leases and concession agreements. We also have significant experience in integrating golf course assets with other amenities within larger resort and fractional ownership developments with respect to golf play rights, financing and membership issues, including such projects as the Omni ChampionsGate Resort and Grand Lakes Resort located in Central Florida.

Theme Parks and Amusement Parks
The Hospitality & Leisure group has represented a non-listed publicly traded REIT in connection with its acquisition and leaseback of seven formerly flagged Six Flags theme and water parks, and subsequent conversion from operating under a lease to operating under a management structure, a water park located in Honolulu, Hawaii and a theme park located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In addition, we represented the same client in connection with its acquisition and leaseback of several family entertainment centers located throughout the U.S. Our experience in connection with the acquisition and leaseback of theme park and water park assets includes:

  • negotiation of development agreements, construction agreements, design to build agreements and ride purchase agreement,
  • acquisition or licensing of intellectual property associated with the applicable theme and water park assets, and
  • liability issues arising from the operation theme parks and water parks.

Marinas
The Hospitality & Leisure group has helped its clients acquire 17 marina properties in seven different states throughout the U.S. We have dealt with licensing and permitting issues, structured expansion projects, and negotiated ground leases with the Army Corps of Engineers and various local governments. We also have experience in helping owners mitigate against risks specific to marina assets when leasing their marina assets to third-party operators.

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Restaurants
We provide legal advice on a national, statewide and local level in all areas of real estate to restaurant franchisees and franchisors, including acquisitions, sales, financing, leasing, environmental issues, licensing, workouts and development. We have extensive experience in every phase of restaurant development, from assisting with the site selection and DRI approvals to structuring the most advantageous business entity for tax purposes.

To learn more about our Restaurant Services Group, click here.

 

Rich Fildes, Co-Chair
Jackie Bozzuto, Co-Chair

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