SOME EXAMPLES OF THE SCOPE & GEOGRAPHIES OF OUR PROJECTS
The projects summarized below are some examples of the type of projects in which AXIS and its partners and associates have been involved. Some are complete, some are still active, some have stalled and others are underway. From all of them we have learned valuable lessons and have met many wonderful developers and made many friends.
INTERCONTINENTAL DHAKA, BANGLADESH
Repositioning a mature property back to a leading position in themarket.
Contracted by the Government of Bangladesh to re-develop and reposition the Sheraton Dhaka, an iconic, mature property originally opened as an InterContinental. This task had been attempted by the Owning Company over a period of some 3 years.
Identifying ten potential hotel brands, refining them to a short list of three, weighting & scoring a multitude of custom-designed criteria and assisting the Board of Directors to choose the best one while costing the renovation, planning the enlargement of the rooms and upgrade of the restaurants and function rooms……. was an enjoyable challenge made even more pleasant by the professional approach taken by the ownership team and the board.
Axis completed this task in 4 months.
The property will re-open in 2018. InterContinental Dhaka.
HOTEL LE MERIDIEN, ORAN ALGERIA
The rapid design-build development of this €600 million 200 room Luxury Hotel, Convention Centre, 2,000 sm Exhibition Centre and 3,000 seat Amphitheatre was planned to accommodate the LNG2010 Congress to take place in Algeria within 24 months. Axis was recruited by one of the world’s largest engineering firms to assist the government-backed client Sonatrach, Africa’s largest corporation, to select the design-build group, select a brand and operator, oversee the architectural and interior design, kitchen and back of house service layout and integrate the operator as the property was under construction.
The property was completed in time for the April 10th LNG Conference, the attendees for which were greatly reduced by the Alaskan volcano eruption that inhibited airline traffic throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.
COMPLEXES CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, MONTREAL CANADA
AXIS Hospitality’s founder, David McMillan was recruited to lead the team charged with the
objective of reinventing Hospitality through the eyes of the remarkable entertainment giants at Cirque du Soleil. Under the working title of Complexe Cirque, the team of creators and business executives developed a strategic plan for the development of a number of urban, destination resorts incorporating lodging, an evolving show, refreshment and entertainment venues in a collection of five or six world-class cities with the resident theatre-going capacity and touristic volumes to support these ‘Complexes’.
In the same way that the company had re-invented the circus arts for the benefit of audiences worldwide, they set about the reinvention of hospitality and the calculated shattering of global paradigms and customs. Far from the assumption of clowns appearing from behind columns, the concepts were born in entertainment but delivered in subtle ‘winks’ in which architecture was replaced by stages in which light, sound, human interaction and small events and happenings titilated the senses of the creative classes.
Working with outside architects and engineers as well as recognized specialists in the culinary arts and the fitness and wellness fields, operating concepts were developed in close concert with the founder of the company Guy Laliberte for potential projects in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The scope of each individual complexe in each city would have likely represented the production capacity equivalent of 4 or 5 shows and for this reason the project, as imagined at that time was shelved to allow the company to continue its focus on the development of their permanent and travelling shows around the world.
The link between Hospitality & Entertainment was and still is at the very foundation of our belief system and the industry is gradually realizing that to overlook that link is in fact a strong magnet toward mediocrity and boredom.
BANYAN TREE RESORT AT COCOA BEACH, BAHIA, BRAZIL
Axis Hospitality was asked to assist in the Co-Development and financing of Cocoa Beach Bahia, a luxury resort being developed to include an 80 room boutique hotel, 230 resort villas for sale (and included in the resort’s rental pool), together with a beach and tennis club. The resort encompasses a 46.5 hectare shovel ready site with 355 meter beachfront in Bahia, Brazil.
The property was planned to be connected with Banyan Tree, a luxury, 5-star brand, with renowned service establishing the premier positioning of both the resort and the private residences for sale. Banyan Tree Cocoa Beach Bahia leverages a breathtaking beachfront location and the operator/brand experience and reputation operating some of the world’s finest resorts. Cocoa Beach Bahia will be the premier destination resort in the country filling an under-served opportunity to offer a luxury resort experience with real estate available for purchase catering to the elite and up-and-coming Brazilian market.
At completion, Cocoa Beach Bahia will be the premier destination resort in the Bahia region with multiple luxury amenities that cater to the elite up-and-coming Brazilian and international travelers. The Resort was planned to feature luxury amenities and be positioned as a unique combination of Brazilian culture with other influences. The Project leverages a breathtaking beachfront location and the team’s experience building the world’s finest resorts to create a sanctuary for discerning clientele.
The project was put on temporary hold due to the unstable economic and political situation in Brazil.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT SICILY
The potential financing of the Four Seasons Hotel Isola Maddalena, Sicily involved a detailed review by Axis Hospitality and its associates of the plans, the feasibility study, the financing expectations, the development model as well as the integration of 3 sites in which a luxury 133 room Four Seasons Hotel, 109 Villas & Condos, a Beach Club and Golf Club were planned for a total cost of €160 million. The exclusive rights to the financing of the project were executed and assumed by our New York associates.
Axis Hospitality Founder David McMillan’s previous experience as the General Manager of the first purpose-built Four Seasons in the world with in depth involvement in the pre-opening design and operating layouts for this property in conjunction with the adjoining City Convention Centre were considerations of the development company.
CUBAN CANADIAN RESORTS, CUBA
Finalized the Joint Venture between the State-owned Gran Caribe Hotel group and Cuban Canadian Resorts. This involved a process of educating the Cuban State companies about the concept of Timeshare & Vacation ownership and perhaps more importantly learning how to adapt into the Cuban systems.
Coordinated the development of the Master Plan and Designs for Phase One. The concept development was conducted by a well-known resort design firm from Spain but required the involvement of the Cuban State architects connected to the Ministry of Tourism. Assembled a team for the development of marketing & sales plan for the timeshare including a Vacation Club concept. The process of planning a legal system of timeshare exchange in which the two exchange companies were restricted by the US embargo, was complex and critical to the success of the transaction.
Coordinated the financing plan for Phase One of the equity and debt financing for this $250 million series of four mixed use resorts in East Havana, Santa Lucia, Cayo Coco and Varadero. The practice of using debt to leverage equity by the Cuban State government was not one that was used at that time and required much study.
A relevant Blog. A Capitalist development in Cuba
PARK HYATT TORONTO YORKVILLE
The plan for the re-development and repositioning of the Park Plaza was undertaken by Axis Hospitality whose overall architectural plans and projections attracted a purchaser who, following the renovation of all rooms, suites and public areas, re-branded the property as a Park Hyatt.
The plan reconfigured the entry and overall sense of arrival, re positioned the restaurants and bars and developed a spacious and well appointed spa area.
The purchaser used the Axis Hospitality re-development plans and the corresponding architectural plans in their entirety.
RITZ CARLTON RESORT & RESIDENCES MYKONOS, KALO LIVADI, GREECE
Axis served as a development advisor and was asked to facilitate the financing for the Ritz Carlton Reserve Mykonos that is to be developed on a spectacular 7 acre cliff-side property around the idyllic beach of Kalo Livadi overlooking the azure waters of this ‘The Jewel of the Aegean’ the island of Mykonos.
Envisioned as a 5 Star, 113 unit Residential Resort consisting of 84 hotel suites, 10 one & two bedroom villas and 19 three and four bedroom private residences, this ultra-luxury €102.8 million resort will eventually position itself as the market leader in luxury resorts in Greece.
The extensive work done by the very experienced local developers was reviewed by Axis and its associates and have expressed interest in Co-Developing this project in which the planning process would have been adjusted, the sequencing refined and the financing facilitated.
It is the plan of this development group to replicate this same model in a similar project in Santorini.
WESTIN BRISTOL PLACE, TORONTO AIRPORT
Developed a plan for the acquisition, renovation and re-branding of the Bristol Place at the Toronto International Airport to a Westin to be managed by Axis Hospitality on behalf of a Canadian investor. The plan, the re-development budgets and forecast of revenues & expenses were completed and the bid was formulated. A competitive bid won the transaction and the property was branded as an Omni for a relatively brief period. It has since been branded as a Westin.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL & CONVENTION CENTRE CALGARY
David McMillan (General Manager) led the team that developed the ‘first purpose-built’ Four Seasons Calgary to the exacting standards developed at the Inn on the Park in Toronto and London. The attention to the extraordinary details developed in all aspects of the operation touched on the design and specifications of the silver holloware, table height to chair, table width to table-top contents, introduction of French Service to a 2,000 seat convention hall with military precision training of service staff. Selection of special import wines, the list of which won a NY Times award as the best wine list west of New York City. Three members of the kitchen brigade on the Canadian Culinary Olympic Team, McMillan’s successor, John Sharp became president of Four Seasons Hotels.
Hotel now a Marriott, contract secured by Michael Beckley, now a Senior Advisor to Axis Hotels and Resorts.
EL SENADOR CAYO COCO, CUBA
The completion of the 700 room El Senador in Cayo Coco was delayed. There was pressure from the co-owners to open the property before the hotel had been completed and there was much work to be done.
- An in-depth review of the status of the management team.
- A review of the status of the supplies and equipment.
- The creation of a sales and marketing plan.
- The creation of an updated realistic Budget for Year One.
The Canadian managed El Senador offers two hotels in one. Set in a beautiful garden setting, full of Cuban charm and excellent service will be sure to please your needs. The ‘Emperador’ section features spacious Junior Suites, while ‘La Laguna’ offers hotel rooms and Villa Rooms with a separate living area, which are built on stilts over a spectacular seawater lagoon and linked by floating walk-ways.
AXIS was subsequently asked to conduct an Investors’ Strategic Review of the operation of the property on behalf of the Canadian partners. This in view of the fact that the investment was not reaching the expectations of the Feasibility Study.
This Review included,
- A Review of the Operating Results.
- Development of Key Opportunities.
- A Management ‘performance review’.
- The development of Three Potential Exit Strategies.
- The development of a professional Business Plan.
- The development of a European Strategy.
The property’s results increased significantly in spite of some Cuban interference in the basic cost infrastructure. A clear alternative was identified to assume management of this property. The Canadian co-owners sold their share and exited.
The property now operates under two names successfully.
LUXURY RESIDENTIAL RESORT, PUNTA MITA, MEXICO
Axis was invited to review a location that we consider ideal for a high-end luxury villa resort. The location is a spectacularly sculpted +/- 75 acre property made up of ten parcels that could be developed into a luxury +/-125 suite hotel and +/- 50 villas/condos all with commanding views located in the prestigious area of Punta Mita. Punta Mita is a 1,500-acre beachfront village located on the north end of Banderas Bay in the Mexican state of Nayarit, about 10 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco and west of the developing resort at Sayulita.
The resort area is well-represented by neighbours Four Seasons, Iberostar and St Regis hotels.
The formula that Axis and its partners employs focuses the development on the sale of high end real-estate, the sequencing and style for which is a science that delivers a project that is typically debt free on completion, when Axis and its partners are compensated. On learning of the formula for success, a friend of the developer decided to pursue this plan himself to eliminate Axis’ participation in the trailing success fees.
In the same way that most chef’s omit an ingredient from their great recipes, Axis also as Resort Scientists cannot describe all of the idiosyncrasies that are incorporated into successful resorts !! That only comes with experience.
The project remains undeveloped.
AZATLAN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT COACHELLA, CA
AXIS and its associates reviewed the development and financing opportunities of this ambitious resort development in Coachelle, Calif. The Aztlan Entertainment District is planned as a 48 acre mixed use planned development in Coachella CA that has been designed to include,
- A 250 room Four or Five Star Resort Hotel
- A 16 Theatre Maya Cineplex,
- A Theme Park and Aztec Village ‘Return to Aztlan’
- A Studio Sound Stage with 5 Concert venues & Film School
- 297 Villas on an adjoining 92 acre parcel (incl 145 golf homes).
It is adjacent to the Championship Eagle Falls Golf Course, two Native American Resort Casinos and are joined by a tunnel under Interstate 10. The project is located in a Target Employment Area (TEA) which qualifies it for $50 million in EB5 financing, $10 million in new market tax credits, $5 million in Native American grants and $10 million in sponsorships.
AXIS and its associates were enthused about the potential and proposed a Co-Development agreement that would have provided the expertise, the development sequencing and the planning science necessary to fund this great project but were ultimately advised that the project would in fact be developed and financed by a large and successful Chinese group.
The project remains undeveloped.
LOS OPTIMOS, BARAHONA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Axis Hospitality has been intimately involved in the imaginative strategy of financing a major resort property using the leverage of electrical power developed from waste and the use of carbon credits.
The development of “Los Optimos Beach & Golf Resort” near the fishing town of Pescaderia in the Province of Barahona is planned on a property of 945 acres bounded on the south side by a 1.6 mile white sand beach and on both sides by natural fresh water rivers that flow from the mountains. The site is protected from hurricanes and fierce tropical storms that have never struck this area. The new Maria Montez International Airport is only 20 minutes away and Barahona, the provincial capital, is 20 km from Los Optimos. Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital, is only 209 km. There is also a first class seaport that offers access to international cruise ships in Barahona, twenty miles distance. There are currently no international hotels or resorts in this region. The Federal Government has agreed to provide requisite funding and training for Los Optimos employees. The Project site is located within a protected area Category IV: Habitat Management Area / Species, Wildlife Refuge (by law 202-204), therefore any development must be processed through the Ministry of Environment and comply with regulations established for this area. Los Optimos when fully developed will include the following components:
- Four 5 star hotels (2800 rooms)
- 750 Villas, Condos & Apartments in a gated residential communities
- 655 Beach front Villas Residence Units
- A Casino & related entertainment facilities
- 2 X 18 hole PGA golf courses with an executive clubhouse
- An amphitheatre as well as convention center
- A retail Village to include
- Restaurants & Bars
- Boutiques & Galleries
- Multidemoninational Church for weddings and Religious services.
- An Equestrian center for residents and hotel guests as well as a childcare center
- A Municipal Solid Waste to Energy Plant (gasification waste to energy)
The project will be phased according to the market demand and structured to monetize the first phase of real-estate as quickly as possible.
The relative novelty of tourism in this area leaves this ambitious, sustainable project in temporary suspension. The concept of linking resort funding with waste management and United Nations carbon credits is a concept that can work in the DR and in many other locations globally.
SIX SENSES YEMANYA, BUEN HOMBRE, REPUBLICA DOMINICANA
AXIS evaluated the Six Senses Resort Yemanya project for financing. Our analysis deemed this a great project that needed some refinement and in conjunction with Character Capital proposed a Co-Development Agreement with the developers.
The project occupies a unique site with stunning panoramic views of a natural lagoon, the ocean, offshore island formations and an untouched natural wilderness. The perimeters of the site are all elevated to around 50 metres in height and surround a coastal lagoon in the centre of Yemanya, creating a natural amphitheatre that is ideal for hotel and villa development. Every unit would enjoy ocean views. The coastal plain and its natural lagoon are ideal for the development of low-density amenities and over-water villas. A re-flooding program has been developed that would preserve this natural wonder and enable commercial development.
The ±1km of beachfront is of fine white sand, lapped by calm ocean waters. This area is not affected by hurricanes, owing to its northwesterly location and the natural protection of the surrounding mountains. The shallow waters of the ocean are ideal for windsurfing and kite surfing.
The project was delayed due to the unfortunate and unexpected passing of one of the partners.
MAREA DEL PORTILLO, PILON, CUBA
Marea del Portillo is a remote 100 room resort located on a ‘black sand’ beach at the foot of the majestic Sierra Maestra mountains in Southwestern Cuba some 90′ drive from Manzanillo and a short 12 km drive from Pilon. In the early 90s and during Cuba’s ‘special period’, money was scarce and renovations required hard US currency to acquire the FF & E and construction materials, except cement which was locally available. Unable to finance these renovations by any other method, the management team, headed by David McMillan needed to develop a creative sustainable formula that would allow the Cubans to use their hard currency for more important uses, like food, petroleum, agricultural spare parts etc.
Using the services of a Mexican resort architect, the team scoured the Cuban villages to find materials that could be used in the renovation project and for which hard currency was not necessary and could be paid for with Cuban pesos. The trips to the countryside uncovered a multitude of excellent products including tiles, wood carvings, metal artwork and frames, cement artifacts and panels and much more. The team started with the premise that the basic furniture would be built with a cement base and that the ugly white beams and square columns (prevalent throughout Cuba) would be highlighted by a selection of colourful pastels.
The plan would see a saving in US Dollars of approximately $3 million on that project alone, a concept that is easily translated to many parts of the world.
The property continues to attract excellent occupancies during the winter season of which close to 60% are ‘repeaters’ or return guests who return every year and some several times each year. The idea, while well researched and conceptualized has not yet been adopted. Like many parts of the Developing World, local products are deemed inferior and more expensive foreign products always means better.
LUXURY HOTEL, PARAKOU, BENIN, WEST AFRICA
Axis was asked to assist the Municipality of Parakou in Benin, West Africa to develop a much-needed hotel for their town that is, much like most of rural Africa, without much modern hospitality. In spite of the distance and relative difficulty of developing a hotel anywhere, we set about the task of determining their perceived needs and estimating their requirements. Under those circumstances there is generally no shortage of advice from a wide variety of well-established and influential local businessmen.
Appropriate agreements were put in place with local partners and collaborators and the process for making decisions was carefully crafted to ensure that transparency was ‘front and centre’ in everything to do with the funds. A broad framework of their perceived needs was developed and a desktop feasibility exercise was produced. Naturally the actual planning would require approval from the local authorities and qualifications of the full development budget.
While awaiting the decision from the Mayor’s Office, additional potential projects in the country surfaced. None however would have benefited from our areas of expertise since all the mistakes possible had already been made. In that regard it seems, Africa is following in the footsteps of the rest of the world.
While the decision on Parakou at this stage remains pending, we hope to be an ongoing part of Africa’s continuing growth, one way or the other and provided that circumstances permit.
Africa seems to have come a long way from about twelve or so years ago when I chaired a well-attended session of the first ‘Investment Africa Conference’ that was held ironically in Switzerland.
OYSTER ISLAND, ESPIRITU SANTU, VANUATU
Axis was asked to assist a potential buyer acquire and re-develop the existing resort on the island of Espiritu Santu in Vanuatu. With all year round balmy temperatures this island provides a business and lifestyle opportunity that is rarely available.
A Co-Development Agreement was agreed although the purchase was eventually not executed due to some irregularities that surfaced at the time in government circles.
Not too big – not too small; at 65 acres there is room for the popular resort and space for privacy as well. The island is a wildlife sanctuary and it is located in a marine reserve.The sheltered waters of Peterson Bay on one side and fringing coral reefs on the other provide a variation in aspects that people love. The calm waters of the bay are a popular haven for yachties and the reefs abound in coral and fish life providing endless snorkeling and diving recreation.
A number of small islands in and around the bay place Oyster in a magical picturesque setting.Two rivers running into the bay from the Matevulu and Riri ‘blue holes’ provide lovely scenic kayaking experiences and the sanctuary of the Tropical rainforest provides a haven for bird life and picturesque walks for the guests where they can venture across the island to some of the private little bush clad bays.
A feature of Oyster Island is that it is within 25 minutes of a small international airport and being only 200 metres from the mainland it has mains power and mainland water – a huge advantage when it comes to running your resort.
Featuring eleven waterside bungalows and two new tropical garden family units there is great base with the hard work taken care of yet also scope for you to take it to another level if that is what you would like to do. It also has the large waterfront restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining plus new reception amenities and new spacious lounge for day guests and recreation.
The resort accommodation provides delightful holidays with the two new bungalows especially for families. Because of its accessibility Oyster Island is a popular destination for day guests who come for the adventures activities to snorkel, walk, kayak and simply to enjoy the beautiful environment that Oyster has.
To get to Oyster you simply get a ride to their landing on Espiritu Santo and bang on the bell. Within minutes the Oyster ferry will glide over and pick you up. If you are adventuresome you could swim over!
The project would appear to be currently underway and Axis wishes the developers and their employees great success.