RIDGEFIELD, CT—Julian Buffam and Jeremy Buffam, partners in New Castle Hotels & Resorts (NCH), a leading hotel investment, development and management company, today announced the acquisition of the 158-key Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island, located on over seven acres of beachfront on one of Georgia’s southernmost islands, for $41.0 million.
The expansive resort, one of 46 Holiday Inn Resort properties worldwide, was built in two phases in 1950 and 1970, and underwent a comprehensive $100,000 per key upgrade in 2015. The property’s diverse array of amenities includes over one-quarter mile of beachfront, an outdoor pool, kids pool and whirlpool, a playground, pool bar, coffee shop, fitness center and fire pits, as well as some of the largest oceanfront suites on the island.
“The Holiday Inn Resort consistently gained market share following its 2015 repositioning and made further gains during the pandemic, as the exterior corridor configuration and expansive resort layout lured travelers with a renewed appreciation for privacy and seclusion.” said Julian Buffam, who leads New Castle’s investment efforts. “This was an off- market opportunity that we pursued through Colliers International and secured due to our depth of experience on the island and Colliers’ longstanding relationship with the seller. It was a perfect combination of right project at the right time for us.”
New Castle has established a track record of outstanding hotel operations on Jekyll Island, beginning with the Hampton Inn & Suites in 2010. New Castle’s operational expertise is further evident in the opening of the Westin in 2015 and the Courtyard & Residence Inn in 2021.
Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority, noted, “We are thrilled to continue working in partnership with New Castle as the new owners and operators of the Holiday Inn Resort. New Castle’s acquisition of the Holiday Inn Resort will allow them a unique opportunity to raise the bar yet again at one of Jekyll’s popular oceanside resorts.”
New Castle will invest an additional $3.6 million in property improvements, including a reimagined lobby, guestroom renovation, refreshed balconies, new event space with ocean views, a food and beverage makeover at the poolside tiki bar, expanded outdoor leisure/recreation areas and landscaping improvements.
“The are several strategic capital opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and enhance guest experience and value.” noted Jeremy Buffam, who oversees design & construction for New Castle. “Heating the pool and opening the pool bar year-round will deliver immediate impact to guest satisfaction and the bottom line in our first year of operations. The more significant upgrades will be completed ahead of next season.”
Following the renovation, the resort will have 1,200 square feet of function space with an expansive, ocean view patio, a unique offering on the island designed for meetings and social events, especially wedding celebrations.
“Traveler insights shared by the Jekyll Island Authority confirm that while most markets have struggled to recapture lost meeting business, Jekyll has already exceeded pre-pandemic group bookings due to the island’s numerous indoor-outdoor event and meeting spaces and the local and regional draw of the island. Growing travel segments, including bleisure and workcations, will only further this success in the years to come,” added Julian Buffam. “When our upgrades are completed, the Holiday Inn Resort will be the island’s only hotel with ocean view, indoor-outdoor function space. That distinction, combined with the property’s expansive natural landscape, is sure to captivate meeting and wedding planners looking for unique venues.”
New Castle partnered with CrowdStreet, the largest online real estate investing platform, to raise equity for the deal. Through the New Castle offering on CrowdStreet, 346 people invested $15.2 million in the project. CrowdStreet features hospitality properties frequently on its marketplace. Five of CrowdStreet’s top 10 “Best Places to Invest” in hospitality properties in 2022 are in coastal South Carolina and Florida, which are adjacent to the Georgia coast. CrowdStreet is ranked Best Overall Crowdfunding site for 2022 by Investopedia.
Bar Harbor Bank & Trust provided financing for the project. BHBT is a strong, regional bank founded in the 1800s and headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine. New Castle has a longstanding, productive relationship with BHBT and has previously done several other transactions with the Bank.