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Global hotel pulse: Americas news
October 18 2011

In this week's roundup of news from the Americas region: Operating performance still rising; brands hope to capitalize on the potential of Colombia; Loews Hotels is looking for a new president and CEO; and key hotel deals from the Americas region.

 

HotelNewsNow.com each week features a news roundup from a different region of the world. Today’s review covers the Americas.

Americas operating performance still rising
The Americas region ended August with a 3.5% increase in occupancy to 66%, average daily rate was up 3.8% to US$104.58, and revenue per available room rose 7.4% for the month to US$69.34, according to
data from STR and STR Global, parent and sister companies of HotelNewsNow.com.

Among the region’s key markets, Miami achieved the only double-digit occupancy increase, rising 11.1% to 73.6%. Sao Paulo jumped 28.9% in ADR to US$148. And Sao Paulo saw the biggest increase in RevPAR, rising 36.5% to US$109.42.

U.S., Canada pipelines continue downward trend
Hotel construction pipeline data was released for both the U.S. and Canada regions. 

U.S.: The U.S. hotel development pipeline is down 10.5% year over year, with 2,915 projects totaling 315,200 rooms in the in construction, final planning and planning stages, according to the September 2011 STR/McGraw Hill Construction Dodge Pipeline Report.

Among the chain-scale segments, the luxury segment ended the month with the largest increase in rooms in the total active pipeline, rising 15.6% with 5,371 rooms. Two segments reported decreases in rooms in the total active pipeline of more than 20%: the midscale segment (-24.8%) and the economy segment (-22.3%).

Canada: The Canadian hotel development pipeline is down 6.3% year over year, with 183 projects totaling 20,945 rooms in the in construction, final planning and planning stages, according to the September 2011 STR/McGraw Hill Construction Dodge Pipeline Report.

Among the chain-scale segments, the upper-midscale segment reported the largest increase in rooms in the total active pipeline with a 31.7% increase. The midscale segment (-81.1%) and the economy segment (-69.2%) experienced the largest decreases.

Colombia a hot hotel market
Brands continue to capitalize on the potential of Colombia as a tourism hotspot.

Hilton Worldwide’s first managed full-service hotel in Bogota, a Hilton Hotels & Resorts property, is scheduled to debut 15 November and will welcome guests with an introductory rate of US$99.

And InterContinental Hotels Group has announced the opening of the Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The new-build, 14-story Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros will feature 140 rooms and is located in the northern section of the city, close to the Rafael Núñez International Airport.

Executive shakeup at Loews
Loews Hotels Chairman and CEO Jonathan Tisch announced the company will be looking for a new president and CEO.

Current president and COO Jack Adler will retire from the company early next year. Tisch will cede his role of CEO but will remain as chairman of Loews Hotels and co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation.

HotelNewsNow.com caught up with Adler a day after the announcement, to discuss the highs and lows of the past and the opportunities of the future.

Americas Ad Will Appear Here

“It’s been a great 23 years with Loews Hotels,” Adler said. “Back in 2004/2005, we spent a lot of time evolving our brand and transforming our portfolio to where we are the leading 4-diamond-and-more hotel company in the business. We spent really the last year putting together our strategic growth plan, both internal and external, and after 23 years it was time to retire from Loews. I look forward to new opportunities in the business.”

Loews Hotels, which has 18 luxury hotels and resorts throughout North America, has retained Korn Ferry International to identify candidates.

Read “Loews’ Adler looks forward to other opportunities

Autograph Collection going through changes
Marriott International's boutique luxury hotel line, The Autograph Collection, debuted a new website, playing up the “unique experiences” angle and playing down the typical price-and-location based search.

Also absent from the site is the collection’s affiliation with Marriott.

With the exception of the URL, there is no Marriott branding on the Autograph Collection website. Once travelers choose the hotels they want to book, they are then redirected to Marriott’s booking engine for online reservations.

“We believe the independent customer is someone who doesn't necessarily need the endorsement of a big brand,” said Amanda Altree, senior director of marketing for Autograph Collection. “We wanted to create a platform different from the Marriott experience. Different things resonate with different customers. When we’re speaking to the independent customer, we are serving up truly independent hotels.”

Read “New Autograph site debuts without Marriott name

Wyndham cites synergies in first owned asset
Forecasted returns and operational synergies were the driving factor in Wyndham Hotel Group’s decision to develop its first fully owned property, The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, president and CEO Eric Danziger told HotelNewsNow.com.

“This is a rare but appropriate exception to our asset-light business model,” Danziger said.
He cited “operational and other synergies” with Wyndham Vacation Ownership, which has a 1,149-unit timeshare resort near the Wyndham Grand.

For example, all guests at both Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, the hotel, and Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort, the timeshare property, have access to both property’s amenities, including pools, recreation facilities and the hotel’s spa, food-and-beverage outlets, fitness center and game room. Both properties also share security and transportation services as an added convenience for guests.

The 400-room Wyndham Grand was announced in May 2006, financed internally, and broke ground in April 2008. After a delayed construction, it opened 1 October. Wyndham plans to hold on to the asset, Danziger said.

Read “Wyndham diverts from strategy with Orlando resort

Apple REIT still buying
Despite multiple reports that stock prices have caused real-estate investment trusts to rein in their acquisition strategy, Apple REIT is still pushing forward.

While many hotel REITs watched as their capital bases dropped from underneath them, the Richmond, Virginia-based Apple REIT Companies are “continuing to acquire as we have been,” said president Justin G. Knight during a break at last month’s Lodging Conference.
And acquire they have. Subsidiary Apple REIT Ten, for example, acquired 12 hotels comprising 1,391 rooms during the first half of 2011. The company has been just as active lately, as Apple REIT Nine and Ten have acquired or announced intentions to acquire, for US$82.84 million, at least three properties comprising 538 rooms in September alone.

Apple REIT, which comprises subsidiaries Apple REIT Six, Apple REIT Seven, Apple REIT Eight, Apple REIT Nine and Apple REIT Ten, raises money “continually,” Knight said. The result is a sufficient reserve of dry powder that allows the companies to take advantage of good opportunities on a moment’s notice.

Read “Apple REIT deals continue despite slower market

Key deals
• The 271-room Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia broke ground last month and is expected to open in the third quarter of 2012.

• The 125-room Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, broke ground last month and is expected to open in April 2013. Financing was provided by NBT Bank and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

• The 124-room Value Place in Williston, North Dakota, broke ground last month and is expected to open in late spring of 2012.

• The 243-room Continental Bayside Hotel in Miami was bought by InSite Group and Carlyle Group for US$13.5 million from RFR Holding Corporation.

• The 217-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Wilmington in Wilmington, Delaware, was bought by the AGRE U.S. Real Estate Fund LP and Driftwood Hospitality Management LLC for US$12 million from Credit Union Liquidity Services.

• The 206-room Ramada Kearney in Kearney, Nebraska, was bought by Colorado Hospitality Services for US$4.85 million from FirsTier Bank.

Compiled by Jason Q. Freed.

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