Briefs: Former Anbang assets on the block; Marriott to leave Russia after 25 years

Former Anbang assets on the block: China’s Dajia Insurance Group Co. is reportedly considering the sale the Montage Laguna Beach in California and Four Seasons resorts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Scottsdale, Arizona. Proceeds could exceed US$1 billion, according to people familiar with potential transactions. Dajia took over operations of these struggling Anbang Insurance Group Co. assets when it was restructured by the Chinese government.

Moscow Marriott Royal Aurora Hotel

Marriott to suspend operations in Russia: Marriott International has announced it will suspend all its operations in Russia, a market where it has operated for 25 years, as the conflict in Ukraine stretches into the fourth month. The recently announced restrictions by the U.S., the U.K. and EU will make it “impossible” for Marriott to continue to operate its franchise hotels in the Russian market, the hospitality giant said in a statement. Terming it a “complex” process to end its operations in Russia, Marriott said it remains focused on taking care of its associates based in Russia. Since the war broke out, Marriott has deployed US$1 million in internal disaster relief funds for associates and their families to help with resettlement aid, including food vouchers, transportation assistance and legal and medical support. Additionally, 85 Marriott hotels have been providing accommodation to Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries and has provided more than US$2.7 million in hotel-level financing, fundraising and in-kind support. Marriott stated that it is now focused on hiring refugees, after having hired over 250 in 40 hotels in 15 countries across Europe. On March 10, the company announced it had paused the opening of upcoming hotels and all future hotel developments and investments in Russia, and closed its corporate office in Moscow.

US travel to Cuba about to reopen: The Biden administration is reportedly undoing some of the restrictions placed on U.S.t citizens for travel to Cuba, which former President Donald Trump imposed before the pandemic. While the timeline is unclear today, travelers will be able to travel to more destinations in Cuba as well as take group-based educational trips. The U.S. Transportation Department said on Wednesday that airlines will again be allowed to fly to Cuban destinations beyond Havana. Public charter flights will also be permitted to go to airports outside Havana after being suspended in early 2020.

US performance dips: Hotel performance across the U.S. fell marginally compared to the previous week, as per STR’s latest data through May 28.

  • Occupancy: 66.5% (+3.2%)
  • ADR: US$151.73 (+22.2%)
  • RevPAR: US$100.97 (+26.2%)

Among the top 25 markets, Phoenix posted the highest performance increases over 2019: occupancy (+19.6% to 69.9%), ADR (+50.8% to US$149.06) and RevPAR (+80.4% to US$104.14). San Francisco saw the only double-digit occupancy decline (-13.7% to 69.3%). The market also registered the only RevPAR decrease (-16.5% to US$141.21).

Sunstone closes Confidante Miami Beach acquisition: Sunstone Hotel Investors, Irvine, California, has completed the acquisition of the 339-key The Confidante Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, for US$232 million (US$684,000 per key). The group will invest US$60 million to reposition the beachfront property under Hyatt’s Andaz brand and expects the hotel to generate an 8% to 9% stabilized net operating income yield on the total investment in the hotel, including the repositioning. The renovation will start from Q4 2022 and is slated to be completed in the first half of 2024 and open as Andaz Miami Beach. Sunstone expects the property to generate US$3.5 to US$4 million of EBITDA during its ownership period this year. The acquisition was funded from available cash and with US$140 million of proceeds received from the company’s previously undrawn revolving credit facility.

Cambria debuts in Delaware: Cambria Hotels, a Choice Hotels International brand, has broken ground on the Cambria Hotel Rehoboth Beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The 114-key, four-story hotel is slated to open in 2024 and will be the brand’s first property in Delaware when it opens. The hotel is being developed by Tauhid Islam of Ocean City, Maryland-based Pinnacle Hospitality Group, a partner of Cambria Hotel Ocean City – Bayfront. Currently, there are 60 Cambria hotels in the U.S. and 70 additional hotels in the pipeline.

Seppeltsfield’s hotel in Australia gets approval: A new “6-star” luxury hotel, worth AU$50 million (US$36.06 million), proposed for Seppeltsfield’s winery in Barossa Valley in South Australia has been approval, allowing construction to begin from later this year. The Light Regional Council has greenlit the 12-story, 71-room hotel, called The Oscar. The hotel will feature suites and penthouses, all with their own private balcony. The property is expected to bring in an additional AU$90 million (US$64.92 million) in tourism expenditure for the region.

Sydney leads profitability in Asia Pacific: Among the major hotel markets in Asia Pacific, Sydney’s GOPPAR figure was the closest to its 2019 comparable, showed STR’s April 2019 P&L data release. After coming in at 51% of the 2019 GOPPAR figures in March, Sydney recorded an April GOPPAR of US$52.08, which was 82% of the 2019 comparable. Singapore also posted impressive month-over-month improvement, with an April GOPPAR of US$45.56. This was 54% of the pre-pandemic comparable after the market reached just 37% of the same comparable in March. Bangkok’s GOPPAR was 27% of its 2019 figures, up from 13% in March. Despite improving, Hong Kong’s GOPPAR stayed in the negative territory for the fourth consecutive month. Beijing was the only key market in Asia Pacific to post lower profitability from the last month.

Organization to empower women, minority leaders: Industry veteran David Kong, recently retired leader of BWH Hotel Group, has launched DEI Advisors, an Arizona-based non-profit organization to empower women and minority groups to achieve their career goals. The organization aims to collect and share insights and learnings from industry leaders and will prepare future leaders in the industry. The interviews and insights will be distributed via social media channels and can also be accessed through the organization’s website. Each interview will highlight an advisor who will provide insight, lessons learned, inspiration and motivation to viewers. Content will be provided weekly, with plans to repurpose the content and insights into a podcast and other resource materials. Principals of the organization include Kong, Rachel Humphrey and Lan Elliott.

USTA on employment data: Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry remains low, with only 84,000 jobs being added in May, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May employment report, the total nonfarm payroll employment jumped by 390,000 in May and the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%. As per the report, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 84,000 in May as job growth continued in food services and drinking places (+46,000) and accommodation (+21,000). Employment in the sector declined by 7.9% (1.3 million) when compared to February 2020. “With only 84,000 jobs added in May, leisure and hospitality employment remains 7.9% below pre-pandemic levels, with 1.3 million of these jobs still lost. While many industries have now nearly or fully recovered and are posting job openings focused on growth, the sector is desperately seeking to fill jobs just to recover to where it was in 2019,” Barnes said.

Forbes Travel Guide opens corporate retreat: Forbes Travel Guide has unveiled the Center for Service Excellence, a corporate retreat and learning experience, at Le Logis in southwest France. The center offers executive development programs aimed at leadership, emotional intelligence and team dynamics centered on a service-driven mindset featuring Forbes Travel Guide’s training program utilized in over 70 countries. The center’s programs offer customizable experiential activities to complement the center’s teaching. The sessions are expected to include culinary team building activities taught at the learning kitchen, mixology sessions offered in the spirits lab or personalized tours of local luxury goods purveyors like Cognac distilleries or factories that manufacture hand-crafted barrels. During the two-day minimum all-inclusive program, teams will enjoy full access to the renovated manor of Le Logis which comprises 14 rooms along with house cocktail and wine selection and nightly themed dinners, a heated outdoor pool, private cinema and a bar.

Saudi positive about travel: Saudis were found to be the most supportive of prioritizing health and sustainability before profit, as per the Future of Tourism Survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia. About 44% of respondents called for greater harmonization of health protocols and the use of technology to enable seamless travel, while 34% wanted to see greater sustainability at the heart of tourism. About 29% wanted to see health and sustainability prioritized over profits for the travel industry and 33% called for better financial protections for travelers — likely in response to the experience of the pandemic. Among respondents in Saudi Arabia, 58% said they were now more likely to travel domestically and were more optimistic about going on a holiday or business trip abroad within the next six months, reflecting the performance of the Saudi economy. Globally, 42% said they were likely or very likely to travel abroad for a holiday, compared to 39% who were unlikely or highly unlikely to do so. The survey was released before the 116th meeting of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization which will be conducted in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on June 7 and 8, hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.