Designing Destination 

You might know one of the properties in the Destination Hotels & Resorts portfolio, but soon you’ll know the company, too.

Destination Hotels & Resorts is a hospitality management company with a well-capitalized real estate parent in Lowe Enterprises. Together, they’re quietly assembling a strong portfolio of mainly upscale mixed-use properties, of which Lowe owns almost half of the 42 in Destination’s collection.

 While many of its hotels are known by travelers, Destination’s president and CEO Jamie Sabatier wants those travelers to know that they are the brand behind properties that include Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina and L’Auberge Del Mar in California.

“One of my focal areas for 2013 is to move us from being a bunch of different properties that have a linkage together to a collection of properties that resonate with the consumer,” Sabatier says. “That doesn’t mean we necessarily need to do a hard brand, but we have the opportunity to better present our portfolio to our customers in a way that will enhance their awareness and their desire to go from one property to another.” The move is similar to what hotel collections like Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and RockResorts have done to acquaint themselves with their customers. For example, The Carlyle in New York only recently became The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel.

There is also a residential component to many Destination properties, which is part of the vertically integrated structure of the Lowe Hospitality Group, where Destination acts as the manager and Lowe as the developer. At Terranea, in Southern California, Ocean Golf Villas and Oceanfront Casitas are priced from around $1.3 million. In Vermont, Front Four Residences at Stowe Mountain range from $219,000 to $309,000.

“We have chosen to stay out of timeshare [options],” Sabatier says. “We’ve got a great opportunity to develop communities. The types of deals we are seeing are really redevelopments. Every market is different, but what we are seeing is a greater velocity in the number of sales. With that comes better pricing, and we are in early phases of seeing pricing improvement.”

In the near future, Destination will look to grow via acquisitions and expand its reach outside of the U.S. to the Caribbean and Mexico. “Our goal is to double the size of the company over the next five to seven years,” Sabatier says.

At the same time, Lowe Enterprises and its development arm, Lowe Destination Development, look to develop properties across the United States. And while growing via acquisitions, Sabatier does think the market for ground-up development is coming back. “As the development market improves, and we have seen a real increase in our development pipeline, I can see [new development] being a growth vehicle,” he says.