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Hard Rock plans global hotel push
February 1 2013

The company’s Chairman Jim Allen said Hard Rock could triple its number of hotel properties during the next three to five years.

Highlights
  • Hard Rock, which has approximately 20 hotels in its portfolio, is eyeing 25 to 50 markets for hotel development, Chairman Jim Allen said.
  • “We believe there is tremendous opportunity in Asia,” Allen said.
  • The company last month submitted an application to develop the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino New England in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
By Shawn A. Turner
HNN contributor

ORLANDO, Florida—Hard Rock International is pushing forward with its global growth initiative.

Hard Rock, which now has 18 properties in its portfolio, could triple that number over the next three to five years, Chairman Jim Allen told HotelNewsNow.com.

Allen said in the United States alone there are between 25 and 50 markets that would make sense for a Hard Rock hotel. There are also between eight and 15 markets that could support a Hard Rock hotel/casino project. Hard Rock has 180 properties in its portfolio, including restaurant locations, and the company has intentions of bumping that number up to between 250 and 300 over three to five years.

Jim Allen
Hard Rock International

While the company will evaluate opportunities on a region-by-region basis, Allen said Hard Rock is looking to expand to U.S. markets including New York, Miami, northern New Jersey, Texas and Kentucky. In particular, Allen said the New York market seems to have absorbed supply well.

There are also opportunities to increase the number of Hard Rock properties worldwide, he said.

“We believe there is tremendous opportunity in Asia,” he said, adding that the company might also weigh growth in the Caribbean and South America.

Globally, Hard Rock has secured relationships with development partners in 58 countries, Allen said.

Massachusetts proposal
Hard Rock’s growth plans are evident in the company’s announcement last month that it submitted an application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the proposed development of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino New England in West Springfield, Massachusetts, an area about 90 miles outside of Boston. The project, which includes a 400- to 500-room hotel, is valued at between $700 million and $800 million.

Massachusetts passed a law in 2011 to allow three resort casinos to be built, one in each region of the state.

The 38-acre development site also would include a live music venue, a music memorabilia exhibition and a meeting facility, along with a 200,000-square-foot casino. It would take between 22 and 24 months to finish construction on the project if Hard Rock’s application is accepted, Allen said.

The densely populated market area and gaming’s proven success in Massachusetts drew Hard Rock to the project, he said.

Allen said financing the project shouldn’t present a problem for Hard Rock. “We have the ability to write the equity check ourselves,” he said.

He added: “We’re enjoying positive reception in the financial markets.” Still, financing overall for the industry is uneven and largely split into the haves and the have-nots, Allen said.

As for overall performance in the hotel industry, Allen views it the same as he does the supply outlook: It varies by market.

“We certainly see markets where (revenue per available room is) up—and up considerably,” he said.

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