The owner of the Woodlands Resort & Inn in Summerville has inked a $35 million cash deal to buy the struggling Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Florida from Charleston-based Golf Trust of America Inc.
Salamander Hospitality LLC of Washington, D.C., put a $3 million deposit on the getaway near Tampa on Monday and expects to finalize the sale July 16. The deal includes four golf courses, five restaurants, 60,000 square feet of meeting space and 625 rental condominiums.
"We're going to have a lot to work with," said Prem Devadas, president of Salamander and former managing director of Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
Innisbrook, which fetched $79 million a decade ago but is now valued at around $39 million, is the last substantial chunk of Golf Trust, a real estate investment group that has been liquidating its pool of almost 50 courses since 2001. The company has tried to sell the property for years but struggled to find a financially stable buyer willing to offer close to its asking price.
The company could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Golf Trust said the resort has grappled with a "troubled past" and now has a backlog of deferred maintenance.
Golf Trust has been running the Florida property since late last year, after agreeing to pay a $5.6 million fee to sever its ties with Westin Management Co. Previously, Westin had been overseeing the operations at the resort.
In the first three months of this year, Golf Trust sold 34 percent fewer meals and recorded an 8 percent drop in golf rounds played at Innisbrook and the two courses it still owns in Columbia. The resort also rented 27 percent fewer rooms, though it ticked up its average nightly rate 15 percent to $616.
Devadas said Salamander will operate the resort independently and attempt to turn around bookings and tee times. Innisbrook is the site of an annual PGA tournament, the Pods Championship.
"Innisbrook is a storied golf name and we certainly want to restore the luster of that name," he said.
Golf Trust also signed an option to buy back all 800,000 shares of its preferred stock from AEW Targeted Securities Fund, a Boston-based investor. If it acts on the agreement, which is contingent on the Innisbrook sale closing, Golf Trust will AEW pay $17.5 million, or $21.88 a share.
Shares of Golf Trust slid 6.6 percent since the deal was announced late Monday, closing at $2.40 a share Tuesday. That's down from the recent high of $2.66 earlier this month but is up 179 percent from a year ago.
Privately held Salamander was formed in 2005 by Sheila Johnson, billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and part owner of the NHL's Washington Capitals, the NBA's Washington Wizards and the WNBA's Washington Mystics.
A year ago, the company bought the Woodlands, the state's only Mobil five-star lodging, for $3 million. Salamander also manages two independent hotels in Blacksburg, Va., and New Orleans, and it owns 340 acres just west of the nation's capital, where it plans to build a resort, spa and market.
Reach Kyle Stock at 937-5763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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