ORLANDO, FL—Kit Pappas has had the chance to accomplish a lot in his 30-year history in the hospitality industry. But as Tavistock Development Co.’s newly appointed VP of hotel management, he’s tackling a new feat: overseeing the Tavistock Hotel Collection, the new, proprietary brand from the diversified real estate firm.
Tavistock Development Co., which is owned by Joe Lewis’ international investment organization, Tavistock Group, will open the first properties in the collection here: Tavistock Lake Nona Resort and the Tavistock Town Center Hotel, both of which are located within Tavistock’s master-planned Lake Nona community.
“As an international investment organization, Tavistock Group has roots in hospitality and catering, including a portfolio of diversified world-class assets, making the Tavistock Hotel Collection a natural extension,” said Pappas, who has previously served as COO for Capella Hotel Group, a luxury hotel development and management company with properties worldwide, and worked with other hotel companies, including Tishman, Hard Rock and The Ritz-Carlton. “With the continued growth of the Lake Nona community, which is among the fastest growing in the country, and as we continue to expand our footprint in the United States, we envisioned our own brand, focused on engaging with our customers and creating more meaningful experiences for them. There’s no better place to do just that than our innovative Lake Nona community.”
Designed by Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica, both of the hotels are set to break ground in 2018, with scheduled openings at the end of 2019 for the Tavistock Town Center Hotel, and 2020 for Tavistock Lake Nona Resort.
“The Town Center Hotel will be the centerpiece of the retail, the restaurants and the entertainment; we look at that as really becoming the soul of Town Center, that serves as a great amenity for everybody involved,” Pappas said. Situated among more than three million sq. ft. of mixed-use space, the full-service property will feature a 16-story tower with 215 guestrooms, an 80-seat restaurant and a vibrant rooftop pool and lounge with private event capabilities.
“And then when we look at our resort, that will be sitting right next to the USTA national campus that opened early last year and has just taken off with the number of tournaments and people coming in, athletes that are there training. It’s a perfect time and complement to that part of Lake Nona,” Pappas said. With a focus on wellness, the property will include cutting-edge design, custom-designed guestrooms to optimize performance and the comfort of multiple guests, as well as an expansive rooftop lounge and a major fitness and spa campus.
As for the expected guest mix, Pappas noted that it will vary. The hotels will be built to 4.5- or 5-star standards, so the executive said the collection will attract “guests that appreciate and find value in service, regardless of the specific demographics… While they may be more casual in a number of things, in their dress or their approach, their expectations on service are greater than they’ve ever been. We have very exacting standards, and while it’s delivered in a friendly and caring manner, it has to be an exceptional service delivery, too.”
According to Pappas, both hotels will embody the hallmarks of the Tavistock Hotel Collection: exceptional services; one-of-a-kind experiences that help individuals to thrive; and bespoke brand standards, from integrated technology, to common areas devised to socially engage, to thoughtful design.
“From a Tavistock standpoint, we’re always very interested in design,” Pappas said. “We wanted to utilize meaningful and thought-provoking design to inspire human potential. These hotels [will be] architecturally striking as you’re looking at them from the outside, and as you come inside, [they’ll be] extremely well designed and well thought out with our guests in mind in the different markets that we’ll be serving.
“As we designed the services and buildings to take care of our guests, we really designed that with respecting and honoring people’s time,” he said, pointing to check-in as an example. “It used to be that if I waited for three minutes to check in, that was fine. Now, I want to check in before I get out of my Uber. We’ll be able to check guests in from an app before they even get to the hotel, we’ll have the iPad check -in and the key machine there… and we’ll also have a traditional front desk.”
Tavistock Development Co. also recently acquired Fort Lauderdale’s Pier Sixty-Six Hotel, which it intends to add to the collection once it’s reimagined as the city’s social harbor. “It’s an iconic property, well known within the community,” Pappas said. “Our long-term goal with that is to really have that return to become the social center of Fort Lauderdale. We look at that as a tremendous opportunity.”
But while the first three properties will be located in Florida, Pappas noted that this isn’t a regional collection. Tavistock Group’s investments in hospitality are worldwide, including Albany in the Bahamas, a 600-acre luxury resort community jointly owned with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, and the St. Regis Atlanta, among others. “The nice part of being part of a global company is it opens up all sorts of avenues for us,” Pappas said. “We have a lot of really smart people looking at opportunities. So we’re not going to close the door on anything, but we want to make sure as we look at things, that it fits into our long-term vision, that the infrastructure is there and the markets are there, and that anything we do, we want to make sure we can create excellence when we do it. That’s our driving factor in looking at additional products.
“We’re fortunate from the standpoint that we’re comfortable with our growth right now, as we look at what we’re doing with Lake Nona and other projects,” he added. “We continue to look at what opportunities are out there, and we think over the course of the next several years that we’ll have some good opportunities, whether we acquire or develop from the ground up… The really great part is that as an organization, we take a longer view. We’re not looking to flip. We want to buy it, build it, run it and create the excellence with it. These are legacy properties for us as a company.” HB