5 things to know: 2 February 2015
5 things to know: 2 February 2015
02 FEBRUARY 2015 10:10 AM
From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:
Wyndham buys Dolce in $57m deal
Anbang’s Waldorf Astoria purchase OK’d
Development continues as Macau’s gaming revenue plummets
Auction.com forms unit to focus on hotels
Ethiopia begins hotel star-rating program
This morning news broke that Wyndham Hotel Group acquired Dolce Hotels and Resorts, the global group and meetings hotel brand with 24 properties and more than 5,500 guestrooms, for $57 million in cash. The deal will boost Wyndham’s managed portfolio by nearly 40%, according to the news release, and Wyndham plans to continue to grow the Dolce brand alongside its portfolio.
Dolce president and CEO Steven Rudnitsky told Hotel News Now that Wyndham was a natural fit as a potential buyer when Dolce quietly began exploring opportunities to add capital and grow the company. 
“We were selectively having conversations though Morgan Stanley with various investment organizations,” Rudnitsky said. “Really because of our relationship with Wyndham and their interest in understanding and getting into more of the group business, we started having more substantive conversations. And it just made perfect sense for both parties.”
Dolce has four projects in its pipeline.
It’s official: China’s Anbang Insurance Group Company got the final approval from United States regulators to go ahead with its $1.95-billion purchase (or around $1.3 million per room) of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The deal, first announced in early October, calls for Hilton Worldwide Holdings to retain a 100-year management agreement for the legendary property, while the new owners will invest in a major renovation. Reuters reported the deal’s completion on Sunday.
The deal hit a few snags along the way, however, when the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States said in October it was reviewing the sale, citing possible security concerns. 
Macau is experiencing what some are calling its worst-ever downturn, as the country’s government reported today that “January gambling revenue in the territory fell 17% from the same period last year to 23.75 patacas ($2.97 billion),” as reported by The Wall Street Journal. This slump extends an eight-month period of gambling revenue declines, even as Macau casino operators are on a development binge that is expected to add 62% more gambling tables and 51% more hotel rooms by 2017, according to Union Gaming. 
The challenge facing casino-resort owners and operators, according to the article, is investing more into non-gaming facilities and activities as expansion takes place.
Auction.com, the Irvine, California-based online real estate auction house, last week officially formed a business unit to focus on selling hotel properties. Anthony Falor will lead the new division as managing director from the company’s Atlanta office, according to a company news release. In 2014, the company closed 76 hotel transactions, with 26 of those closing in the fourth quarter. 
Ethiopia has begun the process of assigning star grades to 600 hotels in the country, according to allafrica.com
Two hundred of the properties are in Addis Ababa, with the remainder being in the rest of the country. It took four years for the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism to devise the system.
"We are aware of the challenges in relation to hotel grading from the start, but only now have we become committed and integrated the goal as one of our growth and transformation plans," said Gezahegn Abate, international and public relation directorate director for the ministry.

Compiled by Stephanie Ricca.

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