Z Capital moves forward on Canyon Ranch

Despite a court challenge, Z Capital announces plans for a new luxury flagship property

Chicago-based Z Capital is moving forward with its plans for the former Canyon Ranch property in Miami, Florida. The private equity firm acquired the property through a bankruptcy bidding process from a group of debtors affiliated with the remnants of the Lehman Brothers portfolio in August, PEI reported at the time.

Z Capital already operates a handful of luxury hotel properties throughout the United States. Now, court filings indicate that the firm will partner with Adrian Zecha and Jonathan Breene, developers of some of the finest hotels in the world, to reboot the property as a new luxury hotel.

Last month, PEI reported on a series of court challenges filed by a group of hotel/condo associations affiliated with the property, which sought to re-open the bidding process in an effort to give the property to a group with a cozier relationship to the associations. The challenges were surprising as the group put forward by the associations to take over the property underbid both Z Capital and the second highest bidder North Beach Development.

Those challenges haven’t moved forward in court, but new fillings spell out Z Capital’s plan for the property – the firm will create a joint venture with Adrian Zecha, founder of Amanresorts and GHM Ltd, and Jonathan Breene, developer and creator of The Setai, South Beach to launch a new luxury hotel with Canyon Ranch as its flagship. Filings say the property will be upgraded to meet the standards of other Amanresorts which are recognized to be some of the best in the world.

Zecha sold Amanresorts to DLF, India’s largest commercial real estate developer several years ago. Those properties are now up for sale again and at the center of a separate court fight between Omar Amanat, a 42-year-old American entrepreneur, and Vladislav Doronin, a Russian real estate developer who jointed forces to buy the properties, in an auction that entertained bids from Carlyle and Blackstone.

Zecha first joined forces with Breene on the launch of The Setai in 2001.

Thomas Wicky, Z Capital’s managing director and operating partner is already familiar with hotels in South Florida, having been involved with a number of properties in the area including Fisher Island, The Boca Raton Hotel & Club, The Breakers Palm Beach, and The Cloister at Sea Island.

Filings say that Canyon Ranch will be the “first project of the joint venture which will create a premier, luxury flag with exclusive and unique locations around the world.”

“We believe this announcement demonstrates Z Capital’s commitment to the Property. It should also eliminate any concern that homeowners will enjoy anything less than the standards they expected when they bought into the property, as well as the claims of the Associations that Z Capital is not a hotel operator and is interested in only a “free option” or short-term economic flip,” the court filing said, notable as the firm is clearly trying to quash all of the challenges leveled by the associations. Watch this space.