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Driven by Success

Driven by Success You know you have hit a home run in business when after five years, people are still talking about how well things are going and how well the future looks.

That is the case with Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority (CIEDA) and its economic investment in The Westin Lake Mary, Orlando North hotel.

Opening in November 2009, the hotel became fully operational in 2010. CIEDA’s involvement began in 2014 when visiting another investment venture in Huntsville, Ala. CIEDA representatives were approached by the Yedla Management Co., and talks initiated on how CIEDA could be brought on board for the new partnership.

Yedla Management Co. covers day-to-day operations at The Westin, and Yedla’s President and CEO, Srinath Yedla, said he wanted CIEDA to take charge and make the development prosperous.

"We had developed the hotel for another partner but after a while, it was apparent that we needed someone like CIEDA to step in and turn it around," Yedla said. "That’s when we got CIEDA and the Tribe involved. We knew they had tremendous success in the hospitality industry, and they have what it takes to make a lucrative investment work."

Executive Vice President of Yedla Management, Michael Amaral, stated "with CIEDA’s participation, we were able to achieve the levels of service and quality expected from a Westin Hotel. Within the first 18 months, the revenues and profits, generated from hotel operations, increased significantly and exceeded expectations. Further, as of December 2015, overall occupancy at The Westin at Lake Mary was up 6.2 percent over the competition’s 4.5 percent for the year.

"Our average daily rate, $110.68, exceeded our competition’s rate of $109.42," Amaral said. "We attribute this success because of our partnership with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians."

In its latest report, Smith Travel Research indicated that hotels reporting in the Orlando North area were achieving an occupancy of 67.7 percent while the Westin achieved a 72.9 percent occupancy for the same period.

As a final note, Amaral said he was pleased with the operating team assembled at the hotel, and that in 2015, the hotel was named No. 1 in Orlando by Orlando Magazine and the sales team was awarded the honor of "Sale Team of the Year 2015" for Seminole County.

To further help the hotel stand out, when Seminole County rebranded its name to "Orlando North," The Westin added the branding to its name.

The Westin Lake Mary, Orlando North features 253 guest rooms and suites. Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower, Shula’s 347 Grill, a 24-hour fitness center and a lobby bar are among the vast amenities offered at the property.

The Westin features 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space that can accommodate up to 750 guests, and the 7,700-square-foot ballroom can be divided into five sections, ideal for weddings, special events and banquets.

Yedla said he is pleased with the rate of the hotel’s success and its potential to grow even more.

"When you get a 20 percent profit margin within the first five years, I’d say that is pretty successful," he said. "CIEDA already has seen 11.15 percent on what is called an internal rate of return (IRR). The IRR measures the profitability of potential investments; it’s a cash-on-cash revenue over several years. The higher a project's internal rate of return, the more desirable an investor is to undertake the project. We believe this investment will continue to grow for years to come."

CIEDA President and CEO James T. Martin echoed Yedla’s statement.

"We were honored to be considered as an investor for this project," Martin said. "We carefully considered the potential of the hotel to succeed under our management and having worked with Mr. Yedla in the past, we knew this partnership when be beneficial to all involved."

Martin said the hospitality industry was a lucrative one to be in.

"We as a Tribe are driven to succeed. We invest in economic developments wisely, and I believe The Westin property was a home run."

CIEDA has additional hotel investments in Huntsville, Ala.; Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; and Pensacola, Fla.

By Jen Peake
CIEDA Marketing Specialist

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