Jesta Group acquires Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Toronto

For Eric Aintabi, the words “opportunistic, entrepreneurial and attack” are mantras for the Jesta Group.
The purchase of the Marriott Courtyard Downtown Toronto by the international company marks a new phase of growth as the company expands outside of its Canadian base in Montreal.
The real estate and management company has a significant global portfolio that includes other Marriott hotels, real estate holdings and even a high-tech division, said Aintabi, vice-president, Jesta Group.
He said the privately held company is always looking for acquisitions on a deal-by-deal basis, adding the economics and location of the Toronto property made it attractive.
“As an opportunistic, entrepreneurial private investment fund, when we see a deal that the economics make sense we will attack it no matter where it is, in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, in the United States and Europe – that's the type of company that we are,” Aintabi said in an interview with Property Biz Canada.
“We see Toronto as the economic hub of Canada and we were presented with the opportunity and we are really excited to be adding the Marriott Couryard to our portfolio.”
Company seeks aggressive expansion
“We've been expanding pretty aggressively in Canada for the last three years,” Aintabi said, adding there is no specific expansion quota for Canada.
“Obviously we like to invest in primary markets like the Toronto area, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal, but if a deal presents itself and it makes sense and fits our investment criteria, we have the ability and capacity to close on those deals.”
Asked what made the Toronto hotel acquisition a good deal for the company, Aintabi said its revenues, intrinsic value and location made it a prime acquisition.
“Investing in those core downtown markets is as safe a bet as a company can make while trying to get as good returns as possible,” he said. “It just made it a really easy decision for us.”
He said he could not disclose the purchase price under the sale agreement, which was financed by GE Capital Real Estate Canada.
The Marriott Courtyard Downtown Toronto is said to be the largest full-service Courtyard hotel in the world. Centrally located on Yonge Street, near College Street, the hotel features 575 guest rooms, a newly redesigned lobby, restaurant, bistro, 24-hour fitness centre, indoor pool, valet parking and full concierge services.
Hotel began as the Westbury
Built as the Westbury Hotel in 1957, it was converted in 1999 into a courtyard. Aintabi said the hotel had significant renovations in 1999, including the lobby, restaurant, fitness centre, pool areas.
“The hotel itself is in excellent shape. It just really needs some upkeep to keep it up with the new standards and I think it will make it a very competitive product,” he said from Montreal.
“We will do significant renovations and upgrades to guest rooms, meeting places and common areas, to elevate the high standards that people expect from Marriott.”
Aintabi said the property was also a good fit for their portfolio because of their past experience with Marriott hotels.
“This was a very compelling business opportunity and an ideal chance to leverage our expertise in hotel ownership and management worldwide,” he said, adding it will be self-managed.
Jesta Group, which has more than 30 years investment experience, also has two distinct offshoots, Jesta Group IS and Jesta Digital and has offices in London, Paris, New York City, Berlin, and Montreal, where it has about 130 employees.
The company's Canadian portfolio has until now been centred in Quebec where there is a combination of investments, including industrial, hotels, commercial office space, retail and other developments.
Among the properties is the million-square foot Gare Viger in Old Montreal — one of two remaining chateaus in Quebec. The company also owns the Marriott Residence Inn Peel Street and the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Montreal.

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