By Joe Brancatelli
Hotel owners in 2010 are caught in the same kind of financial crunch that first affected homeowners in 2008. The value of their properties have plunged and many properties are now worth less than their outstanding mortgages. The result? Lots of management changes and switches in brand affiliations, especially in and near major business-travel communities.
Four Seasons is finally out as manager of Aviara, the fancy resort near San Diego. After almost a year of haggling, nasty public comments, roadblocks, accusations of fiscal turpitude and arbitration, the hotel’s owners will pay Four Seasons an undisclosed sum to go away. Effective May 8, the 329-room resort will become the Park Hyatt Aviara.
Starwood has sold off two of its W Hotels in New York, The Court and The Tuscany. (Old-timers might remember these hotels as Doral properties.) Both properties have become part of the newish St. Giles chain, which is based in Britain and has generally focused on budget properties.
Ritz-Carlton is out as the manager of the luxury hotel in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn; the name, the blue glasses and that pompous lion all disappear on June 2. On the other hand, the recently renovated Hotel Baronette near the Twelve Oaks Mall in suburban Novi is picking up a major brand name; the 149-room property is now a Renaissance Hotel. The hotel was built in 1990 by a Japanese developer who thought he could capitalize on the large number of Japanese nationals coming to Detroit to work in the automotive field.
Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of JoeSentMe.com, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.