A new kind of room service

Starwood Capital has formed a joint venture with the restaurant company BR Guest to develop new eateries for its hotel portfolio.

Starwood Capital has purchased 16 restaurants from BR Guest, a New York-based restaurant owner and operator, and entered into a joint venture with the company in a series of transactions reportedly valued at approximately $150 million (€115 million).

Under the terms of the deal, which was announced in a statement released last month, BR Guest will continue to manage the restaurants. At the same time, the company has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Starwood to develop new projects in the private equity real estate firm's burgeoning hotel empire, as well as new free-standing restaurants. Last year, Starwood announced that BR Guest would develop the dining establishments for the company's new environmentally friendly line of hotels, called “1.”

The restaurants in BR Guest's portfolio include a number of wellknown eateries in New York City such as Blue Water Grill, Dos Caminos and Ruby Foo's, as well as two restaurants in Chicago and one in Las Vegas. Later this year, the company will open another outpost of its Primehouse steakhouse in New York City, as well as a Dos Caminos in the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. Hanson notes that the company will also expand into the Caribbean and Europe. The joint venture with Starwood will allow BR Guest to acquire other restaurant operators as well.

BR Guest is run by restaurant entrepreneur Steve Hanson. Hanson worked with Starwood Capital founder Barry Sternlicht on Blue Fin, a BR Guest restaurant located in the lobby of the W Hotel in Times Square, which opened in the beginning of 2002. At the time, Sternlicht was the chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood Hotels, where he developed the company's W hotel chain.

Today, Starwood Capital continues to have a significant presence in the hospitality industry. In addition to the “1” line of hotels, the first of which is expected to open in Seattle in 2008, Starwood owns a portfolio of hotels in Europe including Societe du Louvre and Le Meridien. In December, Starwood also invested $30 million in Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels, acquiring an approximate 10 percent stake in one of China's largest hotel owners. Starwood also owns Mammoth Mountain, a ski resort in California, that offers another potential outlet for future BR Guest restaurants.