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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 6 years ago

Look out, brother: New player in town

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Oxford Capital Group, a Chicago-based investment firm, has big plans for its first foray into Tampa.

Oxford Capital Group, a Chicago-based investment firm, has big plans for its first foray into Tampa.

The company, in a deal that closed in mid-October, bought the Bay Harbor Best Western hotel in Rocky Point for $34.5 million from area investor Ben Mallah. Some locals know the property for Hogan's Beach, a bar and restaurant that operated on the grounds for several years, through a licensing agreement with celebrity/wrestler Hulk Hogan, who lives in the area. Hogan's name is no longer connected to the property.

Oxford, according to a statement, plans “to dramatically transform the well-known waterfront property into an upscale lifestyle hotel.”

The company is also punting the Best Western name, and going independent. The property, also previously a Radisson, will now be the Bay Harbor Hotel — the same name it donned when it originally opened in 1974. Going independent, admits George Jordan, senior vice president of Oxford Hotels and Resorts LLC, a division of Oxford Capital Group, is a marketing challenge. “It is a hurdle because you have a limited advertising budget to get the word out about your one hotel,” Jordan tells Coffee Talk.

Working to Oxford's advantage, says Jordan, is the Bay Harbor name, even without a flag, has some cache. And the firm's relationships with travel platforms such as Expedia and Travelocity, among others, have been helpful, he says.

The hotel has been updated before, including $4.3 million in renovations since 2012. The Oxford-led project, over three phrases, includes changes to the paint scheme to create a more nautical feel; more rooms; and possibly adding a pool and a lobby bar. A large ballroom or upscale meeting room is also on the possible agenda.

Despite this being its first Tampa-area purchase, Jordan says “Florida is always on our radar scope,” and Oxford, which has developed 14,000 hotel rooms over the past two decades, is an “opportunistic investor always looking for a deal.”

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