The past 18 hours have been a particularly busycycle for the hotel business. Here are the highlights:
Ã¢€¢ Morgan Stanley Real Estate bought CNL Hotels & Resorts for a whopping $6.6 billion, including assumption of debt. Morgan Stanley turned around and offloaded to Ashford Hospitality Trust all but eight of the 59 hotels in the portfolio for $2.4 billion. Morgan Stanley retains the cream of the crop, including three Waldorf=Astoria Collection hotels as well as the Doral resort, the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Marriott's Grande Lakes complex in Orlando and The Claremont Resort in Berkeley, CA. For its money, Ashford picks up 24 full-service and 27 select-service properties. This kind of transaction reinforces the notion that the hotel industry remains awash in capital. This is a big, but it won't be the last one of '07.
Ã¢€¢ The owners of the Beverly Hilton announced an ambitious $500-million redevelopment of the Beverly Hills, CA property that will include a 50-unit addition to the Hilton, a new convention facility, 120 condos and residences and a 120-room Waldorf=Astoria, the brand's first new-property.
Ã¢€¢ Hilton also made news in its boardroom with the announcement that Steve Bollenbach will retire as CEO at the end of the year. He'll then become co-chairman of the board. In related news, Hilton President & COO Matt Hart (and a likely candidate to add the CEO title) was elected to the Hilton board of directors.