Aloft Hotels Debuts in Tampa

  Aloft Hotels Debuts in Tampa

  Opening in 2014, Aloft Tampa Downtown will Deliver Style-at-a-Steal to the
   Next Generation Travelers in an Ideal Location along the Tampa Riverwalk

Business Wire

STAMFORD, Conn. -- December 21, 2012

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.® (NYSE:HOT) and Liberty Group today
announced that Starwood’s fast-growing Aloft® brand will soon debut in Tampa,
Florida. Opening in early 2014 along the Tampa Riverwalk, Aloft Tampa Downtown
will occupy the former Mercantile Bank office building as part of an adaptive
re-use project developed, owned and managed by the Liberty Group in a
joint-venture partnership with Convergent Capital Partners, which acquired the
vacant office building earlier this year. Orlando-based Baker Barrios
Architects has been selected as the lead architect and interior designer for
the project.

Aloft Tampa Downtown will deliver style-at-a-steal with 130 spacious,
loft-like rooms, forward-thinking technology and a vibrant, social atmosphere
in an ideal location along the Tampa Riverwalk, the landmark gateway to
downtown. It will be the fifth Aloft in Florida, following the opening of
Aloft Miami-Brickwell in 2013.

“We are thrilled to add Tampa to the Aloft brand’s rapidly growing list of
destinations in Florida and look forward to working with Liberty Group on this
exciting adaptive re-use project ,” said Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice
President, Speciality Select Brands for Starwood. “The go-to brand for savvy
travelers, Aloft delivers high design, accessible technology and a social

“With its urban design aesthetic and appeal to savvy travelers, Aloft is
particularly well-suited to adaptive re-use projects like Aloft Tampa,” said
Allison Reid, Senior Vice President of North America Development, Starwood
Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Aloft has a fiercely loyal following and has
proven to be a hit within the development community. Conversions represent a
promising growth channel for the brand, helping us bring the brand to new
markets more quickly to meet growing demand.”

The project is a vision of joint-venture partners Punit Shah of Liberty Group
and Santosh Govindaraju of Convergent Capital Partners. Collectively, the
companies have invested over $550,000,000 in performing / sub-performing
commercial mortgages and real estate including hotels, golf courses,
multifamily, and office in just the past four years.

For Liberty Group, Aloft Tampa Downtown represents yet another opportunity to
adapt and reposition another distressed property in a prime location, having
acquired more than 20 hotels throughout the United States since 2010.

“While we already own several premier hotels in the Tampa Bay area, my family
has specifically been focused on developing a hotel in downtown Tampa for
years, and this project presents the perfect opportunity to own the hippest
hotel in the most dynamic location in Tampa Bay,” says Punit Shah, President
and Chief Operating Officer of the Liberty Group. “Tampa continues to
establish itself as a world-class city, and our urban core offers diverse
demand generators that create the ideal location for our Aloft hotel. It’s a
wonderful accomplishment for Tampa to have an Aloft Hotel that is in the same
conversation as cities like London, New York, Beijing, and Abu Dhabi.”

Located along the Hillsborough River and the new Tampa Riverwalk, Aloft Tampa
Downtown will be within walking distance of the University of Tampa, Tampa
Convention Center, University of South Florida’s new CAMLS facility, Tampa
Times Forum, Tampa Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa History Museum,
Curtis Hixon Park, Florida Aquarium, and the Port of Tampa. Hotel amenities
will include the Aloft brand’s signature w xyz ^sm  bar located adjacent to
the waterfront pool and a 24-hour fitness center. Aloft Tampa Downtown will
also feature a 4,000 square foot rooftop flexible meeting and outdoor terrace
area in the heart of Tampa’s bustling financial district.

“This project will energize a very important gateway into our downtown and add
more activity to our Riverwalk,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “It’s great to
see another building in our downtown re-purposed with such a well-respected
Development Team and Brand associated with the development.”

Pioneering initiatives in music, design, and technology have positioned Aloft
as a must-have living-social brand for the next generation of travelers. Aloft
has reported consistently high guest satisfaction scores since its launch,
reflecting the success of its modern and vibrant design at an affordable price
point. Aloft's social guest experience, with the buzzing re:mix lounge and w
xyz bar, have also earned select hotels within the portfolio designations in
TripAdvisor's 2012 "Top 10 Trendiest Hotels in the US" rankings.

About Aloft Hotels

With more than 60 hotels in 10 countries, Aloft has changed the hotel
landscape by offering ‘style at a steal’ everywhere from Baltimore to Beijing
to Bogota to Brussels – and everywhere in between. For more information,

Aloft, like all brands within Starwood's portfolio, is proud to offer the
Starwood Preferred Guest^(R)program, which offers a breakthrough policy of no
blackout dates on Free Night Awards. To learn more, please

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and
leisure companies in the world with 1,128 properties in nearly 100 countries
and 154,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully
integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences
with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury
Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton,
Aloft®, and Element^SM. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading
loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and
redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout
dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier
provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and
privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit

About the Liberty Group

Established over three decades ago by Raxit Shah and now led by his son Punit
Shah, Liberty Group is a full-service, vertically integrated hotel investment,
development, and management company that prides itself on its proven
entrepreneurial and strategic approach to investment placement. Liberty
targets its investments to maximize asset performance through clear and
concise investment goals. Its proactive, integrated approach of continually
assessing each investment with regard to its performance, market position,
current value, and capital structure allows Liberty to monitor the market and
optimize returns. With over$265 million invested across various asset classes
in the United States and United Kingdom, the Liberty Group demonstrates a
proven track record behind successful real estate investment and development.

About Convergent Capital Partners

Convergent Capital Partners is a privately owned real estate private equity
firm headquartered in Tampa, Florida led by Santosh Govindaraju as Chief
Executive Officer. With over 150 years of combined experience in Florida real
estate, Convergent is a pre-eminent and dominant player in Florida's real
estate markets. Since 2008, Convergent has acquired over $400 million in
performing / sub-performing commercial mortgages and real estate. Convergent
makes direct equity, joint venture equity, and debt investments for
recapitalization of debt, value-add transactions, and real estate development.


Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Stacy Trevino, 203-964-4661
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