The Blackstone Group has been very busy the last few years buying up hotel brands and lodging real estate. The low-profile New York-based company has in the past three years bought Wyndham, La Quinta, Extended Stay America, Prime Hospitality, Boca Resorts, several portfolios of hotels and today, MeriStar Hospitality in a $2.6 billion deal. Granted, the company has turned around and sold off some of the assets it has purchased (the Wyndham brand and AmeriSuites are two examples), but it has the foundation for a hell of a consolidated hotel brand company if it chooses to become the industry's next Starwood.
More likely, however, the company will probably continue to buy and sell and buy some more as long as the current upcycle in the hotel business remains in a positive trajectory. But then again, since these guys are so secret no one really knows what's on their mind.
In what could be a related development, Loews Corp. CEO James Tisch hinted last week that the company, which ran into a rough patch during the fourth quarter, would consider selling or spinning off its small, but prestigious Loews Hotels division. The hotel company, headed by bon vivant Jon Tisch, had revenues last year of $350 million, just two percent of Loews Corp.'s overall take.
The boys at Blackstone could buy that with their lunch money. Time will tell.