Updated 1 March 2011 to clarify Gary Tharaldson's involvement with portfolio owned by Goldman Sachs Group.
A new Google Maps feature that aggregates real-time hotel rates and availability has passed a seven-week beta test and has gone live, and at least one Central Reservation System provider is on a global road show informing hotel clients of their appearance on the new distribution channel, according to a report from HotelNewsNow.com’s Jason Q. Freed.
Richard Wiegmann, managing director of Trust International, which offers distribution functionality for 6,500 hotels globally, including Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces in Mumbai, Rotana Hotels in Abu Dhabi, and Leading Hotels of the World in New York, said his company was the first CRS to offer rates and availability to Google. Trust and Google agreed to keep the program under wraps while they experimented with a beta program, and on 14 February they pushed it live and went public with the announcement.
Google’s newest feature, implemented earlier this month, adds average price and availability to hotel search results in Google Maps, which appears above organic search results. Next to the individual hotel’s average price, users can click a drop-down arrow to view a small box listing several different places users can book that hotel and the different prices at each respective site.
• Read “Google goes live with hotel industry on board.”
A US$478.5-million loan backed by 107 hotels owned by Goldman Sachs Group’s Whitehall Street Global Real Estate Limited will be transferred to a special servicer because of imminent default, according to Realpoint LLC via Bloomberg.
The loan likely won’t be paid when it matures, a rep for the borrower told the servicer.
“We consider this a high credit risk as the borrower used its last option to extend the loan,” Realpoint said.
Whitehall bought the hotels in 2006 as part of a US$1.2-billion deal with developer, Gary Tharaldson. In 2008, the management of that portfolio was assumed by Pillar Hotels and Resorts, formerly Archon Hospitality, an affiliate of Goldman Sachs.
Tharaldson Lodging Companies is the operating name of Tharaldson Motels Inc., an employee owned hotel ownership and management group. Tharaldson Motels has no current affiliation with Gary Tharaldson, his personal hotel portfolio, or Goldman Sachs.
Hotel chains and airline websites lost ground to online travel agencies during the first half of 2010, according to a new PhoCusWright report. The supplier share of unique monthly hotel and air bookers declined, as OTAs benefited from price-conscious comparison shoppers.
Hotel websites generally commanded 67-72% of monthly online hotel bookings in 2008-2009 (OTAs represented the balance at 33%-28%). In Q2 2010, however, hotel website share dropped substantially to 57-69%. A less dramatic shift to the OTA channel was also seen among air bookers.
Morgan Stanley is accepting bids for a popular Chinese motel chain that could fetch up to US$1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
In 2006, Morgan Stanley spent US$20 million for 20% of Shanghai Motel Management Company, which operates the Motel 168 brand through one of the investment bank's real-estate funds. After two further investments for undisclosed amounts, Morgan Stanley now controls 59%. The chain's other shareholders, including a Chinese hotelier, have agreed to sell their shares.
The sale presents a rare opportunity to acquire hotel real-estate in China, especially as foreign and domestic hoteliers scramble to buy into the country's travel boom.
Nevada gaming authorities agreed to a transfer of ownership of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas to one of its lenders, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The state's casino regulators said that it would allow DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, a unit of Credit Suisse, and Morgans Hotel Group to transfer ownership of the Hard Rock to a fund controlled by Brookfield Asset Management, a lender.
The groups have until 10 March to close the deal, said Mark Lipparelli, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Compiled by Patrick Mayock.