Lance Shaner, a parttime Boca Raton resident who operates a hotel in Delray Beach, runs a national hotel empire.
But now he’s going bigger, expanding his interests in Europe.
Shaner Hotels just bought the Hotel Universo in Lucca, a Medieval walled city in Italy. The deal was made in partnership with Italy’s Marcucci Group.
The 70-room hotel, which dates to 1857, will undergo a 1 1/2 year renovation, said Shaner, chief executive of Shaner Hotels, which is based in State College, Penn.
Shaner Hotels’ Shaner Italia division and the Marcucci Group are already joint venture partners in the recently upgraded 180-room Renaissance Tuscany Resort and Spa in Tuscany, Italy.
Shaner said the “massive” renovation took three years and cost 15 million euros, or as he joked, “too much.” But it features three restaurants, a spa and a conference center.
Shaner said he’d like to increase his portfolio in Italy.
Why? The answer should be obvious: “Well, I’ve really always loved Italy,” he said.
But Shaner still is working on expanding his portfolio in the U.S., including Florida.
In Palm Beach County, Shaner operates the 95-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Delray Beach. The newish hotel opened on west Atlantic Avenue in 2015.
He also has several new hotels under construction, including six in Florida. That will bring his holdings to 18 hotels in the state, he said.
These days, Shaner said he’s very selective about the locations of new hotels. In Florida, for instance, he prefers locations near the water. One of the hotels under construction is a Marriott Courtyard in Marathon, for instance.
Shaner is a longtime partner with Marriott, a partnership he said began when he was a young man and turned around a struggling hotel in Durham, N.C.
Shaner said he wanted to partner with Marriott right away but was told to fix the hotel up first. It took five years of work, but he said he did it. And when it was done, Marriott agreed to convert the hotel to a Marriott property.
Shaner said he loves the hotel industry: “You meet so many great people and get to travel all over the world,” he said.
So the moral of the story is….persistence pays.
And the reward for hard work is the ability to do business in Italy.