5 things to know: 16 May 2019
5 things to know: 16 May 2019
16 MAY 2019 9:32 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Stock buybacks to continue at blistering pace
  • Park reopens Puerto Rico hotel
  • Hotel execs share insights on group
  • US hotels see mild RevPAR growth
  • A true industry disruptor: A Taco Bell hotel

Stock buybacks to continue at blistering pace: If you’re looking to quantify just how much money companies have been sinking into stock buybacks of late, The Wall Street Journal reports the S&P 500 would have been roughly 19% lower in the first quarter without buybacks. All in all, more than 80% of S&P 500 companies repurchased a total of $180 billion of their own stocks, the newspaper notes.

The trend isn’t expected to change either, which is a sign of continued optimism in the markets despite worries about things like a continued U.S.-China trade war.

“Companies will do a lot to avoid cutting or suspending a dividend, so if prospects deteriorate, buybacks are the first thing they take away,” said Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis Research Group.

Park reopens Puerto Rico hotel: After nearly two years being closed following damage from Hurricane Maria, The Caribe Hilton has reopened following a $150-million restoration process, according to a news release from owner Park Hotels & Resorts.

Park officials used the closure of the resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to make significant improvements at the property before reopening, including “a comprehensive renovation of all 652 guestrooms and public spaces as well as upgrades to all building systems and building envelopes to better fortify the exterior against future storms.”

“We have worked tirelessly to restore, reimagine and enhance the hotel, and we are confident that the finished product is worthy of the hotel’s legendary history,” Park chairman, CEO and President Tom Baltimore Jr. said in the release. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to the resort and to the wonderful island of Puerto Rico.”

Hotel execs share insights on group: The top executives at publicly traded hotel companies had a lot to say about group business during the recent earnings season, writes HNN’s Robert McCune. The segment seemed to buoy at least some companies through an otherwise weak quarter.

Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, noted group business is expected to “lead the charge” throughout 2019, and that was not an exception in Q1.

“If you look at the segments … (in Q1), group was a little bit better than we thought, and transient was a little bit worse than we thought. The net result … didn’t drag the overall answer down a lot,” he said.

U.S. hotels see mild RevPAR growth: Revenue per available room for the U.S. hotel industry increased 0.9% to $89.94 for the week ending 11 May, according to HNN’s parent company STR. The increase was fueled exclusively by an average daily rate increase of 1.2% to $131.72. Occupancy was down 0.3% to 68.3% for the week.

Houston, Texas, was the top performer among the top 25 markets with a 38.5% increase in RevPAR to $91.29.

San Diego reported the only double-digit decrease in RevPAR (-10.9% to $112.57).

A true industry disruptor: A Taco Bell hotel: Watch out Marriott International, there’s a new kid in town. Taco Bell has announced the limited time opening of “The Bell: a Taco Bell Hotel and Resort” in Palm Springs, California, on 9 August, promising “’Bell’hops and Baja Blasts, fire sauce and sauce packet floaties,” according to a news release from Taco Bell Corp.

The announcement notes the hotel will only be a limited time offering, although it doesn’t define what that means. Reservations open in June.

Compiled by Sean McCracken.

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