5 things to know: 23 September 2019
5 things to know: 23 September 2019
23 SEPTEMBER 2019 9:30 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Thomas Cook ceases operations
  • Hyatt sells Atlanta Regency for $355m
  • Markets uneasy amid trade worries
  • Has the downturn arrived?
  • Blackstone to buy five Greek hotels

Thomas Cook ceases operations: The oldest travel company in the world, Thomas Cook, has ceased operations and trading after efforts to avoid bankruptcy failed over the weekend. The U.K.-based company currently has roughly 600,000 travelers aboard, including more than 150,000 from their home country, sparking what Reuters referred to as “the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history.”

The company, which in addition to its Casa Cook hotel brand ran airlines and tour operations, had been in continuous operations since 1841 and has roughly 21,000 employees.

In an opinion piece on the company’s shocking closure, HNN’s Terence Baker notes the company was hemorrhaging money of late, announcing a £1.45-billion ($1.8 million) loss in the first half of 2019.

Hyatt sells Atlanta Regency for $355m: Hyatt Hotels Corporation continues to sell down owned real estate as the company realigns to a more asset-light corporate structure, as the company announced via SEC filings it has sold the Hyatt Regency Atlanta to an unnamed buyer for $355 million. The company also announced it expects to increase its full-year 2019 shareholder returns from $300 million to $500 million.

Hyatt will retain management of the property and notes the new owner intends “to invest significant capital into Hyatt Regency Atlanta over the next several years.”

Bisnow Atlanta reports the 1,260-room property was “designed by the famed Atlanta architect and developer John Portman.”

Markets uneasy amid trade worries: Stock indexes expected to open slightly lower today as investors have ongoing concerns about trade talk and are waiting anxiously for “a slew of economic reports to gauge the health of the domestic economy,” Reuters reports.

Stock indexes had their worst day in weeks on 20 September after U.S.-China trade talks hit an agriculture-related snag, but there is some hope as both U.S. and Chinese officials spoke of
“constructive” and “productive” deputy-level trade talks, the article states.

“While chances of a complete deal are pretty remote, people are pinning their hopes on any deal where they just stop the escalation (of the trade war),” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Has the downturn arrived?: In the first installment in a new series in which HNN’s editors try to answer your burning questions about the hotel industry, we take a swing at answering perhaps the most pressing questions for hoteliers today: Is the industry at or near a downturn?

Jan Freitag, SVP of lodging insights at HNN’s parent company STR, believes there’s still reason for hoteliers to be somewhat optimistic.

“So far the outlook for GDP is positive, according to our colleagues from Tourism Economics, hence we do not expect that lodging demand will decline,” he said. “It is true that growth in hotel demand will slow, but the outcome will still be positive, just not at the levels we have seen.”

Blackstone to buy five Greek hotels: Officials with Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe have announced a €178.6-million ($196.2 million) deal to purchase five hotels in Greece from Louis Group, according to a news release. The portfolio includes 1,464 rooms with one property in Crete and two apiece in Corfu and Zante.

Louis will retain operations of the properties, which will be controlled by Blackstone-owned HIP, one of the largest hotel owners in Southern Europe, the release notes. The deal marks HIP’s entrance into Greece.

“This transaction reflects our confidence in the Greek investment environment, and we hope to invest further,” said James Seppala, head of European real estate at Blackstone, in the release.

Compiled by Sean McCracken.

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