5 things to know: 20 August 2014
 
5 things to know: 20 August 2014
20 AUGUST 2014 8:18 AM
From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:
144 UK Travelodge hotels sold in £520m deal
Broker Robert T. Koger sentenced to 11 years for fraud
Chinese money to fund $1b Caribbean project
HAMA: Customer acquisition costs outpace revenue in top segments
Latin American more popular with US travelers
By  
A package of 144 Travelodge hotels, all in the United Kingdom and known as the Grove Portfolio, has been sold to a consortium of investors, including Avenue Capital Group, GoldenTree Asset Management and Goldman Sachs, for an estimated £520 million ($867 million), according to CoStar Group.
 
According to the report, the three consortium members, which each purchased an equal one-third stake, “are the existing owners of Travelodge after rescuing the hotel company two years ago with a debt-for-equity restructuring which included writing off £235 million ($391 million) of debt.”
 
The hotels, approximately half of which are in the southeast of England and 11 of which are in London, were on the market via Aldersgate Investments, Lloyds Bank, Prestbury Investment Holdings and West Coast Capital.
 
 
Former hotel broker Robert T. Koger, owner of hotel brokerage firm Molinaro Koger, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for a series of fraud schemes involving the sale of several hotel properties. Koger pleaded guilty on 16 January 2014 to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
 
Charges included setting up a Ponzi scheme and the illegal flipping of hotels and promissory notes securing hotels in which Host Hotels and Resorts and others were victims.
 
Host’s general counsel Elizabeth Abdoo, in a prepared statement released following the sentencing, said, “Koger’s sentencing ensures that he can no longer abuse his trusted position as a broker to defraud his clients. Host is grateful for the government’s investigation and efforts.” Abdoo added Host will continue to pursue its claims against Koger’s law firm, Fox Rothschild.
 
 
A fraudster also convicted of running a Ponzi scheme has a connection with a newly announced $1-billion, Chinese-funded mega-resort earmarked for the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, according to Business Insider.
 
To be built on land once belonging to Allen Stanford, who was convicted of fraud in 2012 and sentenced to 110 years in jail, Beijing-based Yida International Investment Group will, according to the article, begin construction in 2015 on a 1,600-acre project. The project will include “several luxury hotels, hundreds of private homes, a school, hospital, marinas, golf courses, an entertainment district, horse racing track and the Caribbean’s biggest casino.”
 
Comprising land on the mainland as well as on numerous tiny islands, the project has the working name of “Singulari.”
 
 
The Hospitality Asset Managers Association released a report titled “The rising costs of customer acquisition” that shows revenue acquisition costs in upper-upscale and luxury hotels with brand affiliations in the United States and Canada outpaced hotel revenue growth from 2009 through 2012, according to a news release.
        
From 2009 to 2012, room revenue of this group increased by 23%, almost 7% compounded annually. The cost of customer acquisition from 2009 through 2012 grew almost as quickly as revenue, at just under 23%.
 
The report analyzed the financial results of 104 hotels and looked at both the external costs of brand allocations and third-party commissions, as well as the internal costs of marketing and sales programs, including local marketing, sales staffing and other expenses, including reservations staff.
 
 
Hotels.com’s hotel price index has shown that within the Americas, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru are growing as destinations for U.S. travelers, according to a news release from the online travel agency.
 
During the first half of 2014, Mexico City; Cancun, Mexico; Panama City; and Bogotá, Colombia, all jumped four spots, while Lima, Peru, made its debut in the list of 50 Most Popular International Cities for Americans at position 44.
 
Overall London and Paris retained the top two spots, respectively, while Toronto leapfrogged Rome. Visitors coming to the U.S. did not alter in their top-four picks, traveling to New York; Las Vegas; Orlando, Florida; and Los Angeles, respectively. San Francisco jumped above Miami to round out the top six.
 
Compiled by Terence Baker.
 

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