In the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, there is news that the Tokyo hotel industry has survived and continues to serve its community, according to a story from HotelNewsNow.com that includes updates from Prince Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Hilton Worldwide and Accor.
Many Tokyo hotels offered banquet rooms for stranded travelers and employees to spend the night, according to Fumi Yanagihara, director of hotel development for the Palace Hotel Tokyo.
In Sendai, a city that was believed to be closest to the earthquake’s epicenter, at least 37 hotels are at risk, according to STR Global’s census data.
A joint venture led by Ashford Hospitality Trust closed on a US$1.277-billion acquisition of the 28-hotel portfolio of Highland Hospitality.
Ashford, along with an institutional partner, paid US$158,000 per key for the portfolio of mostly higher-end hotels on the East Coast of the United States, a discount compared to the US$244,000 per key before capital improvement funding when the portfolio was acquired in 2007 in a privatization of Highland.
During a conference call with analysts on Friday, Ashford’s CEO Monty J. Bennett said the real-estate investment trust made the deal for several reasons, including the exposure to luxury and upper-upscale hotels and Ashford’s introduction to new markets in places such as Boston and San Antonio.
Ashford owns 72% of the 8,084-room portfolio, but Bennett hinted the REIT might be willing to fully own the hotels.
“That’s definitely a possibility,” he said. “As a REIT, we are a long-term holder. … We would be happy with that outcome.”
Representatives from the hotel industry, an online travel agency and Google sat together to discuss the rapidly evolving hotel room distribution landscape during a panel last week at the International Hotel Investment Conference.
All agreed consumers are changing the way they book hotel rooms and that, as an increasing number of travelers move their searches online, the three parties are focused on getting a larger piece of the pie.
“We are not naïve enough to think that people will only come to a direct site,” said Chuck Sullivan, senior VP of global online services for Hilton Worldwide. “We know that consumers are going be looking around. Consumers are not monogamous today; they tend to sleep around a little bit.”
Dave Pavelko worked in the hotel industry overseeing distribution for major brands before becoming head of Google Travel. He said the distribution landscape has been changing since the turn of the century, but today is headed to the next level.
“I feel like this time it’s going to go a little deeper,” he said. “There’s obviously a cost element to it but there’s also a control element to it as it relates to the customer and the ability to communicate with that customer directly.
IHG is looking to add up to two new brands to its portfolio within the next year, either through acquisition or in-house development, according to Americas president Jim Abrahamson.
In the Americas, the United Kingdom-based company is eyeing a new brand in the midscale segment. IHG also is targeting an upper-upscale or luxury brand to meet the growing demand in China.
“We like brands. We want to grow our brand portfolio. We’ve got capital to invest,” Abrahamson said after delivering a keynote presentation during the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference last week.
After STR revised its U.S. chain-scale segments earlier this year, IHG no longer has a traditional hotel product in the midscale segment. Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express moved to the upper-midscale segment. Candlewood Suites, which still is in the midscale segment, is an extended-stay brand.
The Sahara Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will close its doors 16 May, according to a report in the Las Vegas Sun.
Hotel officials told the newspaper ownership was considering its options on whether to re-brand the hotel or redevelop the aging property.
The hotel, at the far northern end of The Strip, struggled in recent years with ownership and location. It is surrounded by the empty Fontainebleau and Echelon, two hotel projects that stalled during the recent financial downturn.
Compiled by Jason Q. Freed.