Trump finds another great bargain in Doral Resort

Donald Trump is dishing out a lot of money to buy and renovate the “iconic” Doral Resort in Miami, Florida. But most real estate observers feel he is getting a great bargain.

The New York-based developer, and owner of 11 golf courses, is planning to spend $150 to $200 million in renovating the resort, after his $150 million purchase closes in June. Real-estate listings show that the going-rate for an acre in the center of Miami is more than $2 million.

Doral is an 800-acre property, with a 692-room hotel, meeting space, a spa, four golf courses and a Jim McLean Golf School. The sale does not include the White Course, because it can still be developed.

Trump has been bullish on golf over the past five years, acquiring high-end properties in financial straits, and turning them around. While much larger than previous acquisitions, Doral appears to follow the same formula. 

Doral was part of a collection of high-end resorts, that included the Biltmore and La Quinta Resort and Club. It was previously owned by CNL Hotels & Resorts group. But in February 2011, MSR Golf Resort, an entity controlled by hedge fund manager Paulson & Co., seized the group through foreclosure, and immediately placed it in Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid paying $1.525 billion in senior debt.

The bankruptcy judge approved Trump’s acquisition earlier this month after Marriott, which held a long-term management contract, reached an agreement with MSR.

The Doral is one of the largest hotels in South Florida and home to the famous Blue
Monster golf course, which has hosted a PGA Tour event every year since it opened in 1962.

"It's a tremendous location, 800 acres right smack in the middle of Miami, and we look to make this one of the great places anywhere in the world for golf," Trump said last week. "It needs a lot of work. It's a little bit tired, and that's OK. And we're going to do something special."

The planned renovations will include Doral’s main building, lodges, conference areas, and spa. All three of its golf courses will be improved, with Gil Hanse working on the Blue Monster. Trump said the course would be shut down after the 2013 tournament, and reopen in fall 2013.

Hanse was selected last week to design the course in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics.

"Doral can be the absolute best," Trump told the AP Press. "We are going to do this really right. I view it as a business, but it's not my main business. But more importantly, I will spend much more money on fixing Doral than somebody else because somebody else is looking for a return on investment. I'm not. I'm looking to make an amazing place, and the return will come. So I think it's a good thing for golf."

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