Chinese Insurance Co. Pays Record-Breaking $2 Mil Per Room for New York’s Luxury Baccarat Hotel

Manhattan's super-luxurious Baccarat Hotel is not even open to the public yet, but already it has been sold for a record-breaking price of $2 million per room.

The sparkling 114-room hospitality haven inspired by France's famed Baccarat crystal is slated to open its doors in Midtown Manhattan next month. Located on West 53rd Street, the palatial property features 15,000 pieces of French crystal stemware, bedazzled furniture and chandeliers.

A night's stay at the high-end Baccarat is excepted to cost as much as $18,000, which could explain why China's Sunshine Insurance Group jumped on the opportunity to snap up the hotel for more than $230 million, even though it has yet to welcome a single patron.

The property was developed by Starwood Capital Group, which will continue to manage Baccarat. The high-end property flip is expected to match, or even surpass, the 2012 sale of the storied Plaza Hotel to India's Sahara Group, which shelled out $2.04 million per room. The deep-pocketed Chinese insurance outfit, which was founded in 2005, bought a Sheraton hotel in Sydney, Australia, for a whopping $380 million in November. Chinese companies with money to spend have become major players in the US real estate game as of late.

Chinese companies have accelerated real estate investments in global gateway cities such as New York. In October, Beijing’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. agreed to pay $1.95 billion for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, an Art Deco landmark and one of the city’s signature properties. It would be the highest price paid by a Chinese buyer for a standing U.S. building, Kevin Mallory, global head of hotels for CBRE Group Inc., said when the deal was announced.

That the buyer for the Baccarat “is yet another Chinese insurer could signal an increase in the pace of Chinese institutional capital looking abroad for diversification and safety,” said Ben Carlos Thypin, director of market analysis at property-research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc.
At about $2 million per room, the price for the Baccarat would be the second highest on that basis for a New York hotel, behind the $2.5 million per room paid for a 75 percent stake in the Plaza Hotel in 2012, Thypin said. That price included the Plaza’s retail space, he said.

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Starwood Capital built the Baccarat hotel and condominium project with developer Tribeca Associates. The property, with a 125-foot-wide (38-meter-wide) corrugated crystal facade, is across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. The hotel will be managed under a long-term contract by Greenwich, Connecticut-based Starwood’s SH Group.

“Sunshine shares our long-term strategic vision for Baccarat Hotels and will be an excellent partner for the growth of our brands, particularly in the fast-growing travel markets of Asia,” Sternlicht said. Additional Baccarat Hotels are under construction in Dubai and Rabat, Morocco, he said.