By Kris Hudson Four Seasons Hotels & ResortsA rendering of the four Seasons resort being built in Orlando.
ORLANDO –?Four Seasons, like many other U.S. hotel brands, is finding that most of its expansion opportunities lie abroad. Of the 86 hotels that four Seasons operates, 30 are in the U.S. that ratio will shrink over the next five years, because only three of the 29 hotels the luxury chain intends to open in that span will be in North America.
That’s what makes the four Seasons Resort set to rise in Orlando near Walt Disney World so unusual.?With 445 rooms, it is the only four Seasons currently under construction in the U.S., though the chain is planning a hotel in lower Manhattan.
?There isn?t a long list of places in North America where we?re actively pursuing a new four Seasons hotel,? said Scott Woroch, executive vice president of worldwide development at Toronto-based four Seasons. ?We?re already in most major markets in the U.S. Orlando was probably at the top of that list of destinations in the U.S. where we want to be represented and feel it could support a four Seasons.?
The only other four Seasons under construction in North America are in Toronto, where the new property will replace an aging four Seasons, and on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Otherwise, 13 four Seasons are planned in Asia, six in Europe, five in the Middle East and two in Africa.
Other Western hotel brands are seeing a similar shift abroad. At Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., 88% of Starwood-branded hotel rooms under development are outside of the U.S.
In Orlando, the four Seasons will anchor Walt Disney Co.?s 980-acre Golden Oak luxury resort community adjacent on the site of the former Eagle Pines golf course and near Disney?s theme parks. Disney envisions 450 homes at Golden Oak ranging from $1.5 million to several million dollars apiece. The project also calls for an overhaul of the adjacent Osprey Ridge golf course designed by Tom Fazio.
A year after Disney started marketing Golden Oak lots, 22 homes are under construction there. They reflect the neighborhood?s design standards of Mediterranean-tile roofs, thick wooden doors, exteriors of Tuscan stonework and elaborate swimming pools. Buyers at Golden Oak also get three-year passes to any Disney park.
The four Seasons at the site is being developed at an estimated cost of $360 million by a partnership of new York developer Silverstein Properties Inc., four Seasons and Dune Capital Management LP. The 17-story hotel will include a rooftop restaurant, a 14,000-square-foot spa, three pools, a ?lazy river? water ride and meeting space, among other amenities. The Orlando hotel, slated to open in 2014,?is four Seasons? third hotel in Florida after Miami and Palm Beach.
?This four Seasons has everything that you?d find (at resorts) down here,? Silverstein executive Glenn Fidje said at the Orlando construction site. ?But the level of quality will be a step beyond.?