5 things to know: 20 February 2019
5 things to know: 20 February 2019
20 FEBRUARY 2019 10:38 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Host acquires 1 Hotel South Beach for $610 million
  • 2018 US hotel transactions set new record
  • Trump shows signs of easing off hard deadline in trade talks
  • Haiti objects to Expedia’s blacklisting its airports and hotels
  • Dutch hoteliers worried over Amsterdam’s tourist tax

Host acquires 1 Hotel South Beach for $610 million: Host Hotels & Resorts announced its acquisition of the 429-room 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, for $610 million, according to a news release. The property reopened in 2015 after a $300-million renovation.

“This is an extraordinary resort of an iconic and irreplaceable nature located on prime, beachfront real estate in the South Beach area of Miami Beach,” President and CEO Jim Risoleo said in the release. “The hotel has no near-term CapEx needs and carries a RevPAR of over $488, making it one of the top three in our portfolio. Our ability to convert high EBITDA multiple asset sales of non-core, high-CapEx and profitability-challenged hotels into a resort of this caliber, materially improving our overall portfolio, is an excellent example of disciplined and prudent capital recycling.”

2018 U.S. hotel transactions set new record: The latest Hotel Transaction Almanac from STR, parent company of HNN, shows transaction activity in 2018 was at its highest in the current cycle. There were 707 property sales totaling $29.5 billion in transaction volume, a 25% year-over-year increase in number of sales and a 49% year-over-year increase in volume over 2017 levels.

Upscale hotels accounted for the greatest share of hotel transactions at 26%, according to the data. The economy segment grew mainly because of Extended Stay America’s sale of three portfolios totaling 57 properties.

With transaction activity so high in 2018, HNN’s Danielle Hess reached out to hotel brokers to find out what they expect to see in transactions this year.

Trump shows signs of easing off hard deadline in trade talks: While speaking with reporters about the ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, President Donald Trump said the deadline to reach an agreement is “not a magical date,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The president’s language contradicts that of his top China negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has repeatedly said 1 March is the deadline.

The different stances on the deadline likely creates a problem for the Chinese, according to the article.

“They aren’t sure which approach to take more seriously—Lighthizer’s or Trump’s,” Cornell University China scholar Eswar Prasad told the newspaper, adding that additional time to negotiate pushes back more tariffs, but that also means the U.S. could ask for more. “If the deadline is extended, they could be asked for a great deal more in exchange for a little time.”

Haiti objects to Expedia’s blacklisting its airports and hotels: Violent protests in Haiti have closed the country’s schools and businesses and led the U.S., Canada and France to issue travel warnings. While international airlines continue to fly to the country, Expedia blocked users from being able to book flights and hotels there, angering the Haitian tourism sector, the Miami Herald reports.

The language Expedia displayed when users tried to book a flight through Haiti’s airports originally read “This airport is not a legal airport to book,” according to the article, but that later changed to “We could not find any airports that match your search.” The company cited the U.S. State Department’s Level Four travel warning as its reason for blocking the flights and hotels.

Hoteliers, restauranteurs and others in the tourism sector are saying this further hurts the country’s economy, as fewer visitors means they’ll need to lay off employees.

Dutch hoteliers worried over Amsterdam’s tourist tax: The City Council in Amsterdam plans to increase its tourist tax, causing hoteliers in the city to worry this will hurt budget hotels, DutchNews reports. The existing tourist tax increased to 7% of the price of a hotel room at the beginning of the year, and this new proposal would add a flat tax of €5 ($5.67) to €10 ($11.34) per guest.

Hoteliers in the city argue the additional tax would likely make the city too expensive for some tourists, the article states. They are also upset the new tax does not apply to Airbnb and other tourist rental companies.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten.

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