Long Bar project would pull in luxury hotel operator

July 21, 2013 

As a Bradenton resident for six years with over 35 years experience in planning and operating luxury hotel and master-planned developments worldwide, I offer the following rebuttal to Mr. William Ripberger's comments (Letters July 16) concerning hotel development within the proposed Long Bar Pointe project.

While the developers have not yet procured an operator for their highly anticipated luxury hotel to anchor the development, there is little doubt that there will be sufficient interest from luxury hotel chains if the right product is built.

The market indicators necessary to attract these luxury hotel brands is here, and the area is under-served in first-class hotel rooms. This is no "pipe dream!"

With pristine beaches, sport fishing, golf courses, cultural attractions, world-class rowing park, and IMG Academy, this area is rapidly becoming a prime tourist, sports and business destination; but is served mainly by vacation rentals, and midscale and budget hotels, with scant few upper-tier hotels to cater to the more discerning travelers that these god-given and world-class amenities attract.

That leaves the field of luxury operators to approach wide open. However, no hotel company will commit in advance of a project being formally approved and permitted. It is quite simply too early in the development process to have contracted with an appropriate hotel operator.

Also, luxury hotels employ 1.5 to 2 employees per room dependent on property complexity and amenities, and these are not all low-paying jobs. Hotels require managers and staff for jobs in sales and marketing, maintenance, landscaping, transportation, security, accounting, housekeeping, reception, reservations, laundry, kitchen, restaurant, bar, banquet, health club, spa, retail, sports and activities departments.

Additionally, in today's capital markets, hotels are now attracting capital from hedge funds, private equity sources and venture capital companies.

There is no doubt that the Long Bar Pointe developers are fashioning a high-quality project that can be a sought-after destination for local residents and business and tourist visitors alike.

Jim Esposito, President, The Gotham Hotel GroupBradenton

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