Hotel News

Thayer Hotel Investors gets D.C. area's largest hotel for $200 M In what reportedly was the country's largest hotel sale in almost a year - both in terms of property size and sale price - the Marriott Wardman Park, which is the largest hotel in Washington, D.C., and the eighth largest in the country, changed hands in January. Annapolis, Md.-based hotel investment group Thayer Hotel Investors bought the 1,338-room property from Boston-based John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. for a price in excess of $200 million.

By way of comparison, the 620-room Arizona Biltmore traded for $289.5 million in cash, stock and debt early last March to become the biggest single asset sale of 1998.

With 95,000 sq. ft. of dedicated exhibit space, 78,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 30,000 sq. ft. ballroom, the Wardman Park has the most convention space in the Washington area. The oldest portion of the hotel, Wardman Tower, dates to 1928 and not only has been home to three U.S. presidents but also was the broadcast site of Meet the Press for many years starting in 1947. Formerly a Sheraton property, the hotel was renamed last year when Marriott International took over management. A $50 million renovation of all guest rooms and public spaces is scheduled to be completed by the end of 1999.

The Plasencia Group of Tampa, Fla., represented the seller. Crestline spins off from Host, begins new year independently

Crestline Capital Corp. completed its spin-off from Host Marriott Corp. as scheduled and began the new year as an independent company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:CLJ). The Bethesda, Md.-based company now expects to grow "opportunistically" in its three lines of business: lodging, asset management services and senior living communities.

Currently, Crestline leases 121 full-service hotels - bearing the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Swissotel and Hyatt names - and subleases 71 limited-service hotels - under the Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott brand names - from Host Marriott REIT. Crestline also has a contract to provide asset management services for substantially all of Host Marriott's hotel portfolio.

Homewood reaches 75-property milestone, doubles in two years Homewood Suites Hotels, Memphis-based Promus Hotel Corp.'s new-build extended-stay brand, opened its 75th property Jan. 4 in Longview, Texas. Launched in 1989, the chain had 37 hotels open at year-end 1996. Fifteen opened by year-end 1997, and 22 were opened in 1998. In 1999, Promus plans to grow the Homewood chain to more than 100 properties. Currently 14 hotels are under construction and 19 more are in design.

Luxe formed to provide global reservations, develop franchise Luxe Hospitality Corp. has been formed in Los Angeles by hospitality entrepreneur Efrem Harkham and a group of investors. It plans to provide global hotel reservation and marketing services and to develop a new worldwide franchise.

MeriStar acquires Doral trademark, forms new unit WASHINGTON, D.C. - MeriStar Hotels & Resorts is making its move. The Washington, D.C.-based independent, non-branded hotel management company, which was formed last year when CapStar bought American General, has acquired the worldwide rights to the Doral trademark from Doral Hotel Management Corp. The trademark currently is used in the golf, resort hotel and executive conference center segments of the hospitality industry.

In conjunction with the deal, the company formed a new business unit, the Doral Division, headed by MeriStar's executive vice president of finance and development, John Plunket, to focus on further developing the Doral brand and on managing high-end, daily fee golf courses. MeriStar reports that the new division will actively consider upscale golf courses, resorts and conference centers for branding under the Doral name and is exploring extension of the brand into timeshare/vacation ownership and other related business opportunities.

Doral Hotels & Resorts' former CEO Bruce Blum has been named senior vice president of MeriStar Hotels & Resorts and will be responsible for establishing Doral brand standards, reflagging appropriate MeriStar-managed properties and overseeing international marketing activities.

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