Briefs: U.S. construction down | Brandt, DCC buy

U.S. construction pipeline falls: The total U.S. construction pipeline at the end of 2021’s second quarter stands at 4,787 projects/ 598,111 rooms, falling 14% year-over-year by projects from Q2 2020’s 5,582 projects/ 687,801 rooms, as per analysts at the Lodging Econometrics (LE). During Q1 and Q2 of 2021, 472 new hotels with 59,034 rooms opened in the U.S. LE is forecasting another 450 projects/51,754 rooms to open this year for a total of 922 projects/110,788 rooms by the year-end. This will represent a 2% increase in new supply for 2021. In 2022, 1,008 projects/113,871 rooms are expected to open, representing a 2 % increase in new supply. And, announcing for the first time this quarter is LE’s forecast for 2023, which LE is expecting 997 projects/115,271 rooms to open. This is again a 2% increase in new supply.

Greenbrier Hotel hit with IRS lien: Greenbrier Hotel Corp., the historic luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, faces a federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lien of at least US$1.07 billion, adding another concern for owner and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s business empire. The lien, coded as 941, was filed this past March 8 in Greenbrier County and indicates that the taxes date back to the 2018 filing period. The federal tax activated a series of liens on Justice entities in March, with some like this one filed on the same day Greensill Capital, the major lender for the Justices, filed bankruptcy. The IRS may also go after additional penalties, interests and costs.

Meyer Jabara Hotels’ addition to management portfolio: Meyer Jabara Hotels, the hospitality company headquartered in Danbury, Connecticut, has been selected by Atlantic Equity Partners to manage The Menhaden, an independent 16-room boutique hotel in Greenport, New York, on Long Island’s North Fork. The hotel opened in 2019 and has been performing robustly despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said Atlantic Equity Partners, a New England-based boutique real estate private equity firm. The third-party management contract expands Meyer Jabara’s independent luxury boutique hotel footprint.

CN Hotels sells Greensboro hotel: The Brandt Hospitality Group, headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, has purchased the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Greensboro Airport, North Carolina, from an LLC controlled by Greensboro-based CN Hotels for US$15 million. Built in 2017, the four-storey hotel has 103 suites and the property has a total taxable value of US$6.4 million, as per Guilford County records. This will be the first hotel in the Carolinas for Brandt, which has a portfolio of 12 other hotels across the U.S. CN Hotels has at least two dozen hotels in the Southeast, with 13 in North Carolina, including five in the Triad.

Acquisition of Marriott’s Seattle hotel: Dynamic City Capital (DCC), the Utah-based real estate investment fund, has acquired the 234-room AC Hotel by Marriott Seattle Bellevue, Washington. This is DCC’s fourth acquisition this year, after acquiring two San Diego/Bayside Hilton properties (the Hilton Garden Inn and the Homewood Suites by Hilton) in January and acquiring the Element by Westin’s Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center with 174 rooms in June. The acquisition of the AC Hotel Seattle Bellevue will help expand DCC’s presence in the Pacific Northwest.

USTA reacts to travel ban announcement: Hours after the U.S. announced it would not lift existing travel restrictions over concerns of the highly transmissble nature of the Delta variant of the COVID-19, the U.S. Travel Association urged the government to revisit its decision and pointed out that closing the borders hadn’t stopped the Delta variant from entering the country and that vaccinations were proving to be durable to the virus’ evolution. “Given the high rates of vaccination on both sides of the Atlantic, it is possible to begin safely welcoming back vaccinated visitors from these crucial inbound markets. We respectfully urge the Biden administration to revisit its decision in the very near term and begin reopening international travel to vaccinated individuals, starting with air corridors between the U.S. and nations with similar vaccination rates,” U.S. Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement. 

U.K. leads recovery in Europe: The U.K. has been leading Europe in hotel occupancy, with four straight weeks above 60% in the metric, as per STR data through July 18. The U.K.’s highest weekly occupancy level reached 63.5% during July 12-18, but was still significantly lower than the occupancy achieved during the comparable week from July 2019 (84.5%). The demand has benefitted from a successful vaccination program, phased reopening and improved travel sentiment, said STR director Thomas Emanuel. During July 12-18, some European countries showed continued week-over-week improvement in occupancy levels:

  • Ireland- 54.3%
  • Spain-53.7%
  • France- 51.4%
  • Italy- 51.1%
  • Poland- 50.1%
  • Switzerland- 44.0
  • The Netherlands- 43.6%

Hang Lung, Hyatt’s residence in Kunming: Hang Lung Properties, the property developer company headquartered in Hong Kong, has collaborated with Hyatt to establish the first Grand Hyatt branded Residences for sale in Kunming, China. The Residences will feature 254 apartments, including three penthouses each with their own private terrace and swimming pool. The project is expected to be launched in late 2022. The development is the first branded Residences project under the recently unveiled Hang Lung Residences portfolio, and will connect to the Spring 66 development, the only fully integrated mixed use complex spanning luxury retail, grade A offices and the 332-room Grand Hyatt Kunming hotel.

Joint venture buys Travelodge hotel portfolio: A new hospitality real estate joint venture between Melbourne, Australia-based Salter Brothers, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and Switzerland-based Partners Group has acquired 11 hotels worth AU$620 million (US$456 million) from Mirvac and NRMA. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The deal to buy the Travelodge hotel portfolio was the joint venture’s first transaction. The portfolio of 2,032 midscale hotel rooms across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle currently operates under the Travelodge brand, with Salter Brothers anticipating the hotels will operate under a new brand post-settlement and following an operator selection process.  

Befimmo partners with The Standard International: Befimmo, the Belgian real estate investor and a real estate investment trust, has partnered with The Standard International, the U.S.-based hospitality company, to open a hotel in ZIN — Befimmo’s ongoing redevelopment project of The World Trade Center towers 1 and 2 in Brussels, Belgium. The Standard, Brussels, will have 180 rooms, 20 branded apartments and will feature ground floor greenhouse and a rooftop with bars and restaurants. It will open in 2025. ZIN is a multipurpose project combining housing, working and leisure in one building.

Wyndham extends housekeeping program: Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has extended its housekeeping program that enables hotel owners to provide housekeeping at check-in and check-out, which will help with labor costs and reduce in-person interactions. The guestroom cleaning requirements mandates cleaning services to be provided upon check-out and/or every third day of a guest’s stay (unless more frequent cleanings are requested or required by local regulation). These requirements had been implemented from June 1, 2020 as part of Wyndham’s health and safety focused standards.  

Google gets 2 months to improve search results: EU has given Google two months to improve the way it presents internet search results for flights and hotels and explain how it ranks these or face possible sanctions. The final price for Google Flights and Google Hotels should include fees or taxes that can be calculated in advance, while reference prices used to calculate promoted discounts should be clarified, the EU executive and national consumer watchdogs, led by the Dutch agency and the Belgian Directorate General for Economic Inspection, said in a joint statement. Google has also been asked to revise the standard terms of its Google Store as some cases showed traders enjoying more rights than consumers. Google “welcomed the dialogue” and said it was working to see how they could make improvements.