REPORT FROM THE U.S.—As the industry prepares for next week’s Americas Lodging Investment Summit, several moderators shared with HotelNewsNow.com a preview of what to expect from their sessions and from the U.S. hotel industry this upcoming year.
Next week, hoteliers from around the globe will meet at the JW Marriott and Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles to identify and discuss current industry trends.
Mark Lunt, principal of real estate and hospitality transaction advisory services at Ernst & Young, will lead “What’s New and Unique? – As the Recession Moves into the Rear View Mirror, Developers and Investors Have Some Options and New Products to Consider.”
Principal of real estate and hospitality transaction advisory services at Ernst & Young
Lunt said in 2011 hoteliers kept their eye on the stable luxury segment throughout the economic downturn, wondering what luxury properties did differently. The panelists at this session will examine what hoteliers in other segments can do to advance themselves from the rest of the pack.
Taking advantage of consumer trends in the marketplace is key, Lunt said; select-service and lifestyle boutique products are two of the trends panelists will discuss during the session.
“Each of the panelists has a different idea of how to jump on these trends and that’s what I’m going to ask them,” Lunt said.
Four of the five panelists represent major brands and will contrast how to make current hotels feel like home rather than the hotel of yesteryear, he said.
Gerard Greene, CEO of Yotel, will bring a new perspective to the discussion, Lunt said, noting that he plans on asking Greene about the emerging brand’s plans and success rate.
Robert T. O’Brien, partner and vice chairman of U.S. real estate services at Deloitte & Touche LLP, will head the discussion titled “Mixed Use Developments – What Truths Have We Learned about the Assumed Synergies and Benefits of Combining Hotels with Other Uses?” The panel is going to focus on the future of mixed-use developments in the hospitality industry and where those projects will take place, O’Brien said.
“I expect people will be pointing fingers at Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, toward Brazil and other emerging markets,” he said.
Many of the mixed-use developments that were done before the downturn had a condominium component to it, but the condominium market has struggled the last four or five years and financing is difficult, O’Brien said.
“Today the capital markets and real estate projects are all about simplicity and mixed-use developments … are more complex to finance,” he said.
The panelists will examine other mixed-use components in addition to condominiums, such as retail and entertainment.
O’Brien said one of the main goals for the group during the session will be to define the term “mixed use.”
“I’m sure we will have a robust conversation around what really consists of mixed use and what it will look like going forward,” he said.
Partner at Proskauer Rose LLP
Jeffrey Horwitz, partner at Proskauer Rose LLP, will moderate “The Wall Street Outlook – Pretty Clear Right?”
The session will focus on the external events of eurozone countries (Greece, Italy, etc.) and how those will impact capital markets strategies for lodging companies. Horwitz said he will take a spontaneous approach with his panel rather than settling on fixed questions.
His main focus will be to get insight from panelists on where the capital markets are headed in the next 12 months. The group will touch on the equity market, REIT markets, financing opportunities, strategic transactions and strategic mergers and acquisitions, among other topics.
Horwitz believes it’s going to be a robust year for transactions in the hotel space: “I think there’s going to be an increase in the number of trades, and I think there’s going to be a lot of activity in the sector,”