Sunstone aims to buy US$1b of upscale hotels this year

ALISO VIEJO, CALIFORNIA Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. is planning to invest as much as US$1 billion this year to acquire upscale hotels in major U.S. cities.

The REIT, which has forfeited 10 hotels in the past two years, is targeting hotels with at least 400 guestrooms located in major markets on the East and West coasts. The first acquisition is Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square; Sunstone is paying US$37.5 million for the 62% of the property it does not already own, the REIT has announced.

Kenneth Cruse, Sunstone’s president and chief financial officer, outlined the REIT’s 2011 goals in an interview with Bloomberg.

Sunstone’s anticipated buying spree comes shortly after the resignation of President and CEO Art Buser, who was ousted after falling short of the company’s acquisition goals. Robert Alter, Sunstone’s founder and executive chairman, will take on a higher-profile role in acquisition efforts in the near term.

Although it is firmly in growth mode, Sunstone is nevertheless open to selling hotels that do not fit with its renewed core strategy, Alter says.