Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein and a member of the UC Board of Regents, has joined forces with FRHI Hotels & Resorts to purchase the Claremont Hotel and Spa.
Blum and the Fairmont group closed the deal on March 21, a few weeks later that initially expected. Terms of the deal were not announced.
The group did say that it intended to pour millions of dollars into the 279-room “castle-like” hotel, which has seen multiple owners in recent years.
“The new owners will begin work on a multi-million dollar capital investment project to update the hotel’s facilities and enhance the Claremont’s stunning architecture, while at the same time preserving and protecting the character and local charm of the Bay Area landmark,” the owners said in a press release announcing the acquisition.
The FRHI Hotels & Resorts group owns 105 hotels around the world under the Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel brands. Some of the best known include the Raffles Singapore, Swissôtel The Bosphorus, The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and The Savoy in London.
The Claremont will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015. The hotel was built as a destination point for the Key Route system of trolleys that once criss-crossed the East Bay and brought commuters into San Francisco.
In addition to the hotel, the Claremont has a luxury spa and a private health club with 1,500 members. Management does not intend to change that structure, it seems, as it said in the press release that “club members are an essential part of the Claremont and contribute to the warmth and personality of the property.”
Blum is also the owner and chair of the board of CB Richard Ellis, also known as CBRE. The U.S. Postal Service hired CBRE to market and sell many historic post offices around the country, including Berkeley’s Main Post Office on Allston Way. The U.S. Office of Inspector General recently criticized CB Richard Ellis’ handling of the sales, saying its representation of both buyers and sellers presented a potential conflict of interest. That may lead to financial losses for the Postal Service, as well as a drop in trust.
The Inspector General suggested the arrangement be discontinued. CB Richard Ellis has refuted the report, saying their procedures are legal and common in many states.
Blum and FRHI Hotels & Resorts expressed delight with their purchase of the Claremont.
“My family and I are pleased to participate in an investment in this iconic property,” Blum said in the press release. “The Claremont is a true California treasure and its future can only be enhanced with the Fairmont imprimatur.”
“Growth continues to be one of our top priorities, so we are extremely excited to be adding an asset as attractive as the Claremont,” Kevin Frid, President, Americas, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, said in the release. “We see this as an opportunity to grow one of our leading brands with the right product, in the right market, and firmly believe the hotel is a perfect complement to many of the other celebrated hotels in the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts portfolio.”
Berkeleyside broke the news in January that the Fairmont hotel group was in talks to purchase the Claremont. At the time, investors thought the deal would close by Feb. 27. FRHI officials did not announce the cause of the delay.
The 279-room Claremont, which was listed for sale for $80 million in May 2013, has changed hands numerous times in recent years. Its most recent owner was the Government of Singapore Investment Group (GIC). It obtained the Claremont and other resorts from the Paulson & Co. group in December 2012 for $1.5 billion.
The Claremont Hotel uses a Berkeley mailing address although it pays taxes to Oakland.
Fairmont hotel group in talks to buy Claremont Hotel (01.28.14)
Claremont Resort may go up for auction in November (10.19.12)
Investment group puts Claremont resort up for sale [05.23.12)
Claremont files for bankruptcy, operations unaffected [02.02.11]
Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.