Kessler’s latest project is destined to highlight the unique character on which he insists. Last December, he paid Georgia Power $9 million to buy a disused, coal-fired generating station along the Savannah River in his hometown. “It’s the most prime piece of real estate in Savannah,” he says. He plans to pump more than $100 million into the century-old building, creating a 177-room hotel, along with waterfront restaurants and high-end shops. He hopes to open the yet-to-be-named venture in early 2016.
The Kessler Collection also has expansion plans elsewhere. This fall, work will begin on a 50-room, high-end boutique hotel in Charleston, S.C. Around the same time, Kessler plans to break ground on a 100-room property in Birmingham, Ala. The developer is also focusing on Napa and Sonoma counties in northern California. He anticipates building three additional inns in the heart of wine country. “I’m very excited about getting a foothold in California, so we can really start a development program on the West Coast,” he says.
Kessler has recently sold three of his hotels—the Grand Bohemian Orlando, the Bohemian Celebration (Celebration, Fla.), and the Bohemian Riverfront (Savannah, Ga.)—to generate revenue for his latest projects. They continue, however, to be marketed as part of the Kessler Collection.
“We’re willing to invest the additional effort and invest the additional money to create these super-unique properties where you get very high repeat business, and we can garner a rate to make the investment have a good, strong return,” he says, adding that his company’s RevPAR growth continues to be in the double digits, well above the industry average.