Concord Hospitality Plans Winter Opening of The Ben West Palm Following Renovation and Rebranding

USA, West Palm Beach, Florida. September 11, 2019

West Palm Beach's highly anticipated hotel, The Ben West Palm, is slated for a Winter opening and is now accepting wedding and group business for 2020. Part of Autograph Collection, Marriott International's newest collection of independent, characterful hotels, The Ben is the focal point of Flagler Banyan Square, a 3.5-acre mixed-use waterfront development in downtown West Palm Beach. Owned and operated by Concord Hospitality, The Ben is located at 251 Narcissus Avenue, only steps away from buzzing Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, and a short drive from PBI airport. The Ben West Palm will be the only hotel in downtown with water facing views, providing the perfect backdrop for its rooftop lounge and bar.

The upcoming hotspot for visitors and locals will stand true to Autograph Collection standards, reflecting a thoughtful sense of place and an inherent connection to its locale, tying together its iconic South Florida roots, heartfelt design, vision and soul for an unparalleled hospitality experience. The 208-room hotel will feature modern design reimagined to reflect the spirit of the Ben Trovato estate, one of West Palm Beach's great homes owned by Byrd and Fred Dewey, city pioneers and socialites recognized for hosting gatherings that brought some of the most creative personalities together. Byrd Dewey's love for West Palm Beach is well documented in her writing, in particular her best-selling book, Bruno, which showcases tales of her time spent living in South Florida in the late 1800s and provides a vivid account of an iconic time that helped shape the city. The Ben West Palm will channel its roots in this period of hospitality and bring them back to life, and Dewey's passion for entertaining, good food and the timeless, classic South Florida lifestyle will be evident throughout the hotel, restaurants and common areas.

"In a city that has hospitality deeply rooted in its origins, The Ben West Palm will be the first of its kind," said Bernardo Neto, General Manager at the hotel. "Keeping our local guests, visitors, the business traveler as well as groups and events in mind, The Ben is designed to stand out with a creative and inspired approach to hospitality. Our hotel will cater to the modern, the classic and every guest in between."

The hotel will feature a stunning rooftop lounge and bar, dubbed Spruzzo, that will also be open to locals and is intended to become the area's new must-visit destination for cocktails, socializing, light bites and good times. Access to Spruzzo will be available via an express elevator that will give guests a direct entrance to the rooftop. An expansive swimming pool with bird's eye views of Palm Harbor Marina, the Intracoastal Waterway and Palm Beach Island will also be a mainstay on the rooftop. Additionally, on the ground level with indoor and outdoor seating, visitors to The Ben West Palm will be able to enjoy fresh fare with a twist of modern flavors at Proper Grit, the hotel's restaurant concept, open to guests and the public alike for breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner.

The property will be outfitted by South Florida design and architecture firm EoA and feature thoughtful design that steps outside the predictable hotel template styles to bring life and inject new energy into downtown West Palm Beach. Eclectic elements, edgy fixtures, classic pieces and an innovative vision will be evident throughout the lobby, common areas and guest rooms. Additionally, and living up to its roots and identity as downtown West Palm's social hub, The Ben West Palm will feature more than 8,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces- from traditional boardrooms to a unique gallery that will serve as a blank canvas for event planners and corporate leaders to bring their events to the next level. The Studio will provide a supplementary space, with flexible design to allow for multiple room configurations. And for elegant affairs, The Ben's rooftop Blue Heron Ballroom will up the ante: the space will host up to 500 guests and will be the only rooftop ballroom in all of West Palm Beach with jaw-dropping panoramic ocean views from Singer Island to Palm Beach Island and Palm Harbor Marina.

The Ben West Palm will combine elements of a boutique experience, shaped by strong ties to its roots, to bring together West Palm Beach's newest destination for an unmatched hospitality experience. The new Flagler Banyan Square development also includes the 251-unit luxury apartments known as Oversea, a public park known as "The Square", public art, 20,000 square feet of street-facing retail, a waterfront destination restaurant, and boutique office space.

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Hotel Law: A Labor Crisis and Cyber Security

According to a recent study, the hospitality industry accounted for 2.9 trillion dollars in sales and in the U.S. alone, was responsible for 1 in 9 jobs. In an industry of that scope and dimension, legal issues touch every aspect of a hotel's operation, and legal services are required in order to conform to all prevailing laws and regulations. Though not all hotels face the same issues, there are some industry-wide subjects that are of concern more broadly. One of those matters is the issue of immigration and how it affects the ability of hotels to recruit qualified employees. The hotel industry is currently facing a labor crisis; the U.S. Labor Department estimates that there are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the industry. Part of the problem contributing to this labor shortage is the lack of H2B visas for low-skilled workers, combined with the difficulty in obtaining J-1 visas for temporary workers. Because comprehensive immigration reform is not being addressed politically, hotel managers expect things are going to get worse before they get better. Corporate cyber security is another major legal issue the industry must address. Hotels are under enormous pressure in this area given the large volume of customer financial transactions they handle daily. Recently, a federal court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had the power to regulate corporate cyber security, so it is incumbent on hotels to establish data security programs in order to prevent data breaches. The lack of such programs could cause hotels to face legal threats from government agencies, class action lawsuits, and damage to their brand image if a data breach should occur. These are just two of the critical issues that the December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.