Diamonds in the Rough: Turning Eyesores into Gems

It’s all about potential.” That’s what President & CEO Abbas Abdulhussein will tell you about Summit Hospitality Management Group (Summit) and its steady growth in the hospitality industry, most of which is taking place right here in Volusia County.

“Where some people see an eyesore, we see potential,” explains Abbas. Having transformed six distressed properties into award-winning hotels and resorts, with two more in the works, Summit’s success doesn’t come just from a keen investment strategy; it comes from a relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s part of the company’s “Above and Beyond” mission to build enduring relationships with guests, team members and the community.

Finding success in the tech industries in the early 1990s, Abbas moved to Florida in 1997 to start a computer distribution company with his brother Mohamedtaki. In 2000, Abbas traveled back to Australia to launch an internet-based communication and banking company before selling his shares and returning to the Central Florida area. While Abbas and Mohamedtaki’s sister Musarrat ran the stateside computer business, the two focused their efforts on commercial and residential real estate development.

In November 2007, the family purchased the Inn on the Beach hotel (1615 S Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach) at a court auction, and Summit Hospitality Management Group was formed. The property received a top-to-bottom renovation, was reflagged as a Holiday Inn Resort and has received many industry awards since opening in 2011.

Following what proved to be a winning formula, Summit has since purchased and converted several local properties, including the Royal Beach (now an EconoLodge), the Daytona Ocean Sands (Hampton Inn) and the Acapulco Resort, which is now Delta by Marriott, only the second Delta in the United States, boasting Marriott’s newest upscale, full-service brand. This growing collection of properties has earned numerous industry awards – Best of the Best, Renovation of the Year, Best Newcomer of the Year, Quality Excellence, Trip Advisor Top Hotel and Spirit of Care to name just a few.

According to Abbas, “We have always seen the potential in this destination. We hope bringing world-renown brands (Hard Rock) and new-to-market brands (Delta) will help drive awareness among leisure travelers and generate growth in new markets for Daytona.”

As Summit’s focus has always been to look for the “diamond in the rough,” each of the properties they’ve worked on were distressed with multiple violations, which Summit has turned around into top performers. The shining star in Summit’s impressive portfolio, however, is the recently opened four-star Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, which has erased every trace of the infamous Desert Inn Daytona – once rated the second dirtiest hotel in the United States by TripAdvisor – to become a beacon of change along Daytona’s Atlantic shoreline. With initial plans to reflag the property as a Westin, Summit instead seized an opportunity to bring the globally recognized Hard Rock brand to Daytona Beach. Under the careful oversight of Abbas, Junior, Baiji and Efrain, construction began on an extensive multi-million renovation, with stylish interior furnishings and accents hand-selected by Baiji and Fursiya (a family friend who helped design the other Summit properties) and an executive team assembled by Vice President of Operations, Efrain Silva.

“We wanted this hotel to be a statement for Daytona Beach,” said Abbas. “We recognized this as an opportunity to create something very special for our community and be a catalyst to shift the tide for the area.”

Opened on March 1, the new 200-room Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach features panoramic ocean views, mid-century modern design, legendary amenities and stylish luxury, putting the hotel at center stage as the destination’s newest beachfront hotel and the fourth Hard Rock Hotel in Florida. Adorned with priceless music memorabilia throughout, the music-inspired hotel has introduced Hard Rock’s iconic vibe and energetic beat to Daytona, bringing along brand-exclusive amenities and offerings for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.

According to Abbas, each of the hotel’s guest rooms and suites radiates a contemporary style ranging from deluxe to Rock Royalty® options, including Hard Rock’s signature The Sound of Your Stay™ music amenity program allowing guests to set the mood with complimentary vinyl records or jam out on a Fender guitar in the privacy of their own room. The hotel also features the signature Sessions restaurant, third-floor Wave Terrace for cocktails and live music, and Constant Grind offering hot and cold drinks, quick bites and more in a café setting. The full-service Rock Spa® & Salon, Body Rock® Fitness Center, Hard Rock Roxity Youth Club™ and Rock Shop® complete the overall resort experience. Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach also adds to the area’s appeal as a meeting destination, with 20,000 square feet of adaptable space ranging from elegant to edgy. Indoors, the hotel’s event space can accommodate up to 590 guests, while an expansive oceanfront terrace and private courtyard provide endless outdoor opportunities for special events and meetings.

“Summit is committed to providing exceptional environments for our employees, guests and neighbors to enjoy,” said Abbas. “We will continue to identify ‘potentials’ and to grow in a thoughtful way that’s beneficial and meaningful to the community.”

A privately held company with headquarters right here in Daytona Beach, Summit Hospitality Management Group has invested more than $100 million in local redevelopment, which does not include projects still on the books. In addition to investing locally, the company also hires locally whenever possible. For the Hard Rock project alone, more than 200 tradesmen and contractors and 100-plus professional service outlets – almost exclusively from Volusia County – were employed by Summit. To date, Summit has redeveloped more than 900 guest rooms within Volusia County. The company currently employs more than 300 amazing rock stars and has even introduced new roles into the hospitality industry with the Vibe Manager and Hotel DJ positions at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.

With more than 30 years of experience, the company has owned and operated hotels with franchise agreements with IHG, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Marriott, Choice and Hard Rock International. Current construction projects include a new build at the St. Augustine Marina for a four-star resort and the recently acquired La Playa Hotel & Resort in Daytona Beach, which is also being converted into an upscale property. Another top-to-bottom renovation, the La Playa is expected to enter the market in 2020 with the third largest pool deck in Daytona Beach. The second project for Summit in St. Augustine, will be Summit’s first new build. It will be a multi-use development including two hotels a marina and more along 10 waterfront acres in the Lincoln Village area near San Sabastian Winery.