Montage Laguna Beach. (Photography courtesy of Montage Resorts)
Montage Laguna Beach. (Photography courtesy of Montage Resorts) 

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta has acquired the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel for a reported $650 million.

Fertitta’s company has confirmed the purchase of the high-end, bluff-top hotel. The Montage sits on 30 acres of oceanfront land with 260 rooms, including 60 suites, bungalows and villas. At the widely reported price, the deal marks the second-highest price per room in California history, according to Atlas Hospitality Group.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta said of the Montage in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

So who is Fertitta, who Forbes magazine says is worth $7.6 billion?

He’s a restaurant guy

The 65-year-old hospitality operator hails from Galveston, Texas, and now calls Houston his home.

He got his first taste of business at his father’s seafood restaurant. Later, he was an early partner in the first Landry’s restaurant in the Houston suburbs.

Eventually, he became the sole owner of the chain, which grew into a holding company for many other brands.

Among his company’s 600 eateries, the California concepts include the Catch, Mastro’s, Morton’s, Del Frisco’s, The Palm, Del Frisco’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Rainforest Cafe and Chart House.

He’s also a hotel guy

The Montage isn’t Fertitta’s first high-end lodging deal.

In 2018, Fertitta built the upscale Post Oak Hotel in Houston. He owns 14 other hotels from the San Luis Resort in Galveston to the Huntting Inn at the exclusive Hamptons in New York.

He also owns Golden Nugget casinos in Las Vegas, Laughlin, Nevada, Atlantic City, N.J., Biloxi, Miss. and Lake Charles, La.

He’s a reality TV star, too

Dating to 2016, CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer” has featured Fertitta searching for partners for his empire.

The plot involves two businesses seeking a “transformative” order from Fertitta. The drama surrounds whether the billionaire offers either business or both the game-changing deal.

Let’s not forget sports

Fertitta also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets. He paid $2.2 billion for the basketball team in 2017.

Why was the Montage for sale?

It opened in 2003, and in 2015 was bought by Strategic Hotels for $360 million – then the highest price paid per hotel room in California.

Strategic soon sold itself to New York-based Blackstone, which then sold Montage and other Strategic hotels to Anbang in 2016.

Dajia began exploring the sale of Anbang’s luxury US hotels earlier this year. Anbang had agreed to sell the lodging portfolio in 2019 as part of a deal that ultimately fell through as the pandemic struck. Dajia took over the properties when the Chinese government seized Anbang amid financial difficulties.