The Hilton El Conquistador has officially changed hands.
HSL Properties closed the deal on the Oro Valley resort on Dec. 18, purchasing the full property for $15 million. That includes the golf courses and country club that the Tucson-based apartment and hotel developer is selling to the Town of Oro Valley.
HSL plans to spend about $16 million on renovations to the hotel and conference center. Work begins in earnest this summer, said HSL Executive Vice President Omar Mireles.
Mireles said HSL will give the resort a broad remodeling, update technology in the conference center and reactivate areas that had gone offline, like the stables. The improvements will roll out in phases, with everything complete within a year to a year and a half.
The previous owner has started some work, such as updated flooring and fixtures, negotiated with Hilton. HSL’s plans, which are still being finalized, are more comprehensive, with touchups to guest rooms and common areas including the pool. Other major upgrades include a refreshed entry sequence and an overhaul of the spa, which will include opening up the space to give it views of Pusch Ridge.
The El Conquistador, which will remain under the Hilton flag, is now by far HSL’s biggest hospitality asset. The firm purchased the lender-owned property from MetLife, which took back the property from Ashford Hospitality Trust.
HSL’s other active local hotels include a Best Western, an Embassy Suites and most recently, the newly remodeled La Quinta near Reid Park on Alvernon Way. The company also holds the Dorado Country Club Golf Course, an 18-hole executive course in midtown.
Prism Hotels out of Dallas, HSL’s management partner for its other local hotels, will take on day-to-day operations at the Hilton while keeping the existing staff. The hotel had previously been managed by Hilton directly.
HSL spun off the 45 holes of golf and country club features – including 31 tennis courts, two pools, a fitness center, and a restaurant and café – for $1 million to the Town of Oro Valley, which plans to use the property as a community and recreation center. That deal is expected to close March 1.
The town approved the purchase and a corresponding sales tax hike to fund operations and improvements on Dec. 17, although a citizens’ group has launched a petition to send the plan to a referendum.
Mireles said HSL is going ahead with the direction it has right now. Troon, the company that HSL selected for golf and country club management and whose contract would be included in the sale to Oro Valley, is already at work.
“We’re still moving full steam ahead based on the decision, the direction were getting from the town,” he said. “Obviously, if there is a change of plans, we’re going to have to figure out what our next course of action is.”