Golf course, done. Clubhouse under way. What’s next at Banyan Cay?


The new golf course is open at Banyan Cay Resort & Golf in West Palm Beach. The club house has started construction and will be completed this fall.

But Banyan Cay still lacks the resort part of the complex.

That’s about to change.

The project just secured a $62 million loan that will allow it to start construction on the hotel and its amenities. Plans now are for the 150-room hotel and resort to open in November 2019 — a year after it was first planned to be open.

When complete, Banyan Cay will be the largest redevelopment in the city since CityPlace, the mixed-use dining and shopping center. Banyan Cay also will serve as the closest mainland resort to the range of firms taking space downtown.

Seattle-based Noble House is the hotel brand and a minority owner of the Banyan Cay complex. Banyan Cay is east of Interstate 95, off Congress Avenue north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, near the Palm Beach Outlets. Banyan Cay is the property formerly home to the Presidents Country Club.

Calmwater Capital is providing the loan to Banyan Cay, which now counts Jacob Companies as its project manager.

Sean Mullen, president, acquisitions at Noble House Hotels & Resorts said the original plan was to start construction on every aspect of the resort in 2016, but the team ultimately decided to complete the golf course first and then move on to the rest of the project.

The new 130-acre Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course opened last November.

Mullen said golf membership sales are better than expected, with some 132 memberships sold thus far. Membership will be capped at 250, “so we’re more than 50 percent of the way there, and that’s not having the hotel and the homes built.”

The British West Indies-style resort will feature a fitness center, pool, cabanas, tennis center, tiki hut and spa, to name a few amenities. Expect the pool to be lush and tropical, to make up for the fact that the resort is landlocked and not on a breezy shore.

Importantly, Banyan Cay also will feature more than 15,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, making Banyan Cay a new choice for business meetings.

Banyan Cay expects leisure travelers to make up about 65 percent of its guests, with the remaining 35 percent coming from group events and meetings.

But that figure could increase. Groups, including weddings, charity groups and business meetings, already are scouting for the next new thing in Palm Beach County. “We’ve been excited about the reaction from the market, and we haven’t done any marketing,” Mullen said.

He thinks the hotel will appeal to groups seeking an upscale leisure site with the latest in technology and comfort.

The business market, including financial firms, also have taken note. And with West Palm Beach attracting more companies and financial firms, Mullen said Banyan Cay could become the in-town meeting destination with companies that have offices downtown.

While Palm Beach has its charm, Mullen pledges that Banyan Cay will have a much more easy-going atmosphere than the fairly formal air of the posh island.

“It’s privacy without the pretension,” Mullen said in describing the un-Palm Beach feel planned for Banyan Cay. “More of a relaxed dress code.”

Homes also are part of the equation and SobelCo is building five model homes now. The 94 single-family homes will range in price from the $500,000s to the mid-$800,000s.

Plans also are afoot to build more expensive homes, with some in the $1 million range. A deal to bring on a developer to build the 52 custom-built homes fell through, but Mullen said the group is weighing other contenders.

Also coming at some point: Condominiums. A piece of the Banyan Cay property is zoned for a 25-story condo with 179 units.

Al Adelson, a developer of The Bristol, the ultra-luxury condominium nearing completion in West Palm Beach, said he’s interested in building the condo if a deal can be struck for the right price.

Mullen said several contenders have talked with Banyan Cay about building additional residences, but for now Banyan Cay is focused on building the hotel and resort.

When Noble House first teamed with Banyan Cay majority owner Domenic Gatto Jr., the area around Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard still was up-and-coming, having received a boost with the tear-down of the old Palm Beach Mall and the completion of the new Palm Beach Outlets in 2014.

The Outlets, Mullen said, have performed better than expected. And coming soon is a hotel being built by the owner of the Houston Astros, which has its spring training home at the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches south of 45th Street in West Palm Beach.

Last year, the Astros purchased the western most tower of the three Forum office buildings on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and is transforming the building into a hotel that will serve the team and visitors to the area.

Alexandra Clough writes about real estate, law and the economy.



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