Pegasus Solutions CEO Mike Kistner gave perhaps the best description of the mood at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit: “It’s business-as-usual optimism,” he explained while sitting in the far quieter lobby of the JW Marriott at LA Live Wednesday morning as the conference and crowd dwindled. “It’s not the hopeful or cautious optimism of the last two years. It’s real.”

The industry is optimistic by nature, evidenced by the sometimes-rosy outlooks on display the last three years during lodging’s deepest downturn. This year, though, recovery is well underway and despite some lingering concerns, the vibe was positive, and it did seem real this time.

Even the Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council (IREFAC) panel of leading hotel real estate executives most affected by the struggling capital markets expressed more confidence than concern. Mit Shah, CEO of Noble Investment Group, said “there will be deals, but you need patience. Deals are taking longer because they’re more complicated.”

Mark Elliott, senior managing director of Hodges Ward Elliott, said transactions in the first half of the year would be slower, but then accelerate as the REITs recover stock prices. He predicted his firm would handle $5 billion in hotel trades this year, matching last year, with $3 billion coming in the second half of 2012.

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