Interstate partners Steadfast for Mexico deal

2nd Aug 2007

Interstate has announced that it has formed a strategic partnership with Steadfast Companies to own and operate hotels in Mexico.  Interstate invested $5.7 million in a three-property portfolio of Tesoro Resorts in Mexico, currently owned by affiliates of Steadfast.  Interstate’s investment is expected to convert to a 15 percent equity interest in a joint venture with Steadfast in the near future.  Interstate also formed a separate 50-50 joint-venture partnership between Steadfast and Interstate, named Interstate de Mexico, to manage hotels.  The joint venture, which is a platform for further growth in Mexico, took over management of the properties immediately upon its formation.  Steadfast is a privately owned real estate investment consortium based in Newport Beach, Calif. 
A $10 million capital plan will be initiated to make improvements at all three resorts, with primary concentration on redeveloping the Cabo San Lucas property.

“This investment establishes a solid platform for our entry into Mexico and Latin America, areas where we see significant opportunities for growth over the next decade,” said Thomas F. Hewitt, Interstate’s chief executive officer.  “Steadfast is a well-regarded developer with more than a decade of experience in residential, commercial, resort and hotel development, and strong ties to the Mexican business community.  The joint venture has plans for aggressive growth and intends to seek strategic capital partners to expand its hospitality investments in Mexico and Latin America.” 
Steadfast launched the Tesoro Resorts brand in 2006 with the purchase and rebranding of the three former Grupo Situr properties, in Los Cabos, Manzanillo and Ixtapa.  To accomplish its growth objectives, the partnership will seek out investment and management opportunities, initially throughout Mexico.
“The partnership also is interested in developing high-end, select-service hotels in major Mexican metropolitan centers,” said Leslie Ng, chief investment officer.  “That market is extremely underserved in Mexico, which represents another important dynamic of this venture.  Our relationships with all major brands, including those affiliated with Hilton, Marriott and Starwood, will enable us to add significant value to this aspect of the partnership.”
Ng added that the transaction is consistent with Interstate’s investment strategy of acquiring real estate assets through whole ownership or minority equity positions, and gaining long-term management contracts on those assets.  IHR de Mexico will be based in Tijuana, out of existing offices which also can serve as a platform from which to grow third-party hotel management in Mexico and Central America.  “We intend to actively seek additional management contract and investment opportunities in the region and have already been approached by other Mexican hotel owners,” he said.
“In addition to its strong franchise relationships, Interstate brings to the table a proven track record as a highly successful manager with a strong infrastructure and support system that will greatly enhance operating fundamentals at these properties,” said Rod Emery, Steadfast chief executive officer.  “Our goal as owners is to take advantage of the relatively favorable real estate pricing in Mexico compared to the U.S. market and to aggressively expand our hospitality portfolio.  We are confident in Interstate’s ability to help us reach our goal.”
The three resorts are located along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, and each provides a spectacular tropical setting for leisure travelers.  The 286-room Tesoro Los Cabos sits amid the downtown marketplace of Cabo San Lucas and on the marina.  The 331-room Tesoro Manzanillo rises above the beach in a picturesque cove.  The 203-room Tesoro Ixtapa lies further down the Pacific Coast.  Each of the relaunched Tesoro resorts excels at high-end leisure travel, especially all-inclusive concepts that cater to children and adults alike.  The resorts feature tropical gardens, serene swimming pools, spacious accommodations, a wide selection of buffet-style and a la carte, sit-down restaurants, and dazzling evening entertainment.



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