Equity Inns opens its first development property At a total cost of approximately $8 million, Memphis, Tenn.-based Equity Inns Inc. has opened its first development property, a 125-room Hampton Inn & Suites near Memphis. Hampton Inn & Suites is a new product of Promus Corp., which is comprised of approximately one-third suites and two-thirds rooms.

Also in Equity Inns news, the company has completed the acquisition of two Residence Inns in Portland, Ore., and Boise, Idaho, for $30.5 million. In another transaction, Equity Inns also purchased a 120-room Residence Inn in Somers Point, N.J.

The Related Cos. forms new hotel venture, Starwood alliance New York-based The Related Cos. L.P. has formed a new hotel company,called Related Lodging Group, to develop, design, construct and own Class-A full-servicehotels in major metropolitan markets. Through a strategic alliance with Related Lodging, Starwood Hotels & Resorts will operate the hotels under its various brands, and it will have an equity interest in the hotels.

Related Lodging's first projectwill be a 531-room Westin Hotel in Bellevue, Wash., which is expected to break ground within the next year.

Host Marriott buys two Ritz-Carltons for $171 million

In two separate transactions, Bethesda, Md.-based Host Marriott Corp. has acquired the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix, and the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, Va., for $75 million and $96million, respectively. Host Marriott is currently in discussions with Pivotal Simon Group about a joint development to expand the Phoenix hotel, which consists of 281 rooms. The Tysons Corner project has 397 rooms.

Noble Investment begins work on four Southeastern properties Representing a total investment of $30 million, Atlanta-based Noble Investment Group has begun development of four new hotels in Florida and Georgia. These new developments will bring the number of properties owned and managed by the company to 19, with more than 1,500 rooms.

Included in the developments are a 102-room Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in St. Augustine, Fla., a 102-suite Fairfield Suites hotel in Jacksonville, Fla., a 120-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel also in Jacksonville and an 83-suite Fairfield Suites Hotel in Newnan, Ga.

LaSalle Hotel Properties acquires San Diego Princess Resort Acquiring the 44-acre San Diego Princess Resort for a cash price of $73 million, Chicago-based LaSalle Hotel Properties intends to rename the project as the San Diego Paradise Point Resort. The newly formed public REIT also plans to invest up to $8 million in capital improvements over the next two years to renovate and reposition the resort.

LaSalle will lease the hotel to an affiliate of Noble House Hotels & Resorts, which will operate the property. As part of its new strategic relationship with LaSalle Hotel Properties, Noble House will acquire $2 million of shares of common stock from the REIT.

New York-based Insignia/ESG Hotel Partners represented the seller in the transaction.

LaSalle Hotel Properties will invest up to $8 million in San Diego Paradise Point Resort.

You never know where a relationship can lead. Just ask InterBank/Brener's Brendan Sullivan: About four years after a U.S. client asked Sullivan to locate offshore investors - and Sullivan contacted someone he knew who had recently joined London-based Knight Frank International - Sullivan found himself at the NYU Hospitality Conference announcing that Knight Frank and InterBank/Brener Hospitality, in conjunction with Knight Frank Expotel, have formed a partnership, to be known as Knight Frank Access, to provide the hotel industry with an acquisition and disposition service on a global scale.

Under the organization, which will be "like an umbrella," with no shared ownership but structured to share fee income, according to Knight Frank's Derek Gammage, New York-based InterBank/Brener, headed by Sullivan, will serve the Americas; Sydney-based Knight Frank Expotel, headed by Bill Cross, will serve the Australasian and Pacific Basin markets; and Knight Frank, headed by Gammage, will provide services to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. In addition, former Hilton International Chairman and CEO Michael Hirst has been appointed as International Advisor to the Knight Frank Access team.

"It's an amazing time for the hotel industry, but we need each other," Gammage told NREI. "America has been a bit of a graveyard for us. Now, with InterBank/Brener, if you come to me, I can give you the world."