Briefs: US tightens travel norms; Salamander to manage in Aspen

US tightens travel norms: The Biden administration is enforcing tighter travel restrictions within the U.S., after health officials on Wednesday confirmed the country’s first case of the omicron COVID variant in California. All in-bound international passengers will be required to test for COVID within 24 hours of departure and masks have been mandatory on all domestic flights and public transport till March 18, 2022. The new norms are applicable to all travelers, irrespective of their vaccination status and will start next week. President Biden ordered precautionary air travel restrictions last week for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Naminia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini and Malawi.

Omicron fear fuels wave of cancelations: As more countries report cases of the omicron variant of COVID, hotels are witnessing a wave of cancellations for Christmas as travelers change their travel plans and countries tighten travel requirements. Best Western GB, which runs 300 hotels in the U.K., says three-quarters of its hotels have witnessed room and event cancellations. Restrictions on large gatherings has also forced travelers to change holiday plans, corporate meetings and big parties. In the U.K., where the government has mandated all incoming travelers to take a PCR test, hoteliers are seeing cancelations beyond Christmas.

Pebblebrook acquires in La Jolla: Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Bethesda, Maryland, has acquired the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa in La Jolla, California, for US$108 million. Noble House Hotels & Resorts will continue to manage the 210-room resort, which will become a part of Curator Hotel & Resort Collection. With this acquisition, Pebblebrook’s portfolio now consists of 53 properties, including 11 drive-to, independent lifestyle resorts. Pebblebrook funded the purchase with around US$46 million of cash on hand and assumed around US$62 million of existing non-recourse, secured debt.

The soon-to-become Aspen Meadows By Salamander

Salamander to manage Aspen Meadows Resort: The Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C. headquartered global nonprofit organization, has selected Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Middleburg, Virginia, to manage its 98 all-suite Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado. Salamander will work with the Institute over the next five months and assume management of the property on May 1, 2022. As part of the resort’s renovation, a multi-million-dollar project will be undertaken to upgrade all the rooms, which is expected to be completed by early 2023. The 40-acre property will be rebranded as Aspen Meadows By Salamander.

Habitas appoints CEO: Habitas has appointed Guy Heywood as chief executive officer of hotels, overseeing the management team to support its global growth. Heywood will oversee all operations across all current and future projects of the company. Previously, Heywood was the chief operating officer at Six Senses Hotel Resorts Spas. Habitas’ pipeline consists of 20 projects, with six additional properties set to open in 2022.

Record US performance: Hotel performance in the U.S. came in higher than any other Thanksgiving week on record, as per STR’s latest data through November 27.

  • Occupancy: 53.0% (+4.6%)
  • ADR: US$128.41 (+14.3%)
  • RevPAR: US$68 (+19.6%)

Among the top 25 markets, Dallas saw the largest occupancy increase over 2019 (+12.2% to 54.8%), while Oahu Island saw  the steepest occupancy decline from 2019 (-25.3% to 58.5%). The largest ADR increase was recorded in Phoenix (+35.1% to US$143.30). None of the top 25 markets posted lower ADR decline than the 2019 comparable. The largest RevPAR deficits were in Oahu Island (-20.7% to US$147.63) and San Francisco/San Mateo (-18.1% to US$76.37).

Life House raises $60 million: Life House, the New York-based boutique hotel operator, has raised US$60 million in a Series C funding round led by new investors Inovia Capital and Kayak. Existing investors — Tiger Global, Thayer Ventures, Derive Ventures, JLL, Sound Ventures, Trinity Ventures and Cooley LLP — also participated in the funding, taking the company’s total raise since it was founded in 2017 to over US$100 million. The company also announced that its software was “comprehensive and mature enough” to sell directly to international hoteliers and operators that want to own on-site management of hotels. The company said the new capital will be used for hiring and building its sales team. Currently, Life House manages about 50 hotels in North America.

Rosewood Riyadh opening announced: Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ Rosewood Riyadh is set to open within the mixed-use development project Diriyah Gate in the Saudi Arabian capital in 2025. Rosewood Riyadh will mark the brand’s second property in Saudi Arabia and will feature 202 rooms and sites and 48 Wadi Suites ranging from one to three bedrooms. The property will also have four restaurants and bars and a children’s club. Rosewood Riyadh is the eighth property opening announced by the brand in 2021. Rosewood’s global expansion strategy includes 25 properties in the pipeline.

Meyer Jabara adds to portfolio: Main Street Community Capital, Dubuque, Iowa, has selected Danbury, Connecticut-based Meyer Jabara Hotels to manage the 116-room Mason City (Iowa) Hyatt Place and Conference Center. This is the third Hyatt Place in Meyer Jabara’s portfolio. Adjacent to the hotel, Main Street will build a conference center that will connect to the Music Man Square/Meredith Wilson Museum by skywalk and accommodate 1,500 attendees. The project is expected to break ground in spring 2022 and will open in summer 2023. The design concept of both the hotel and conference center will be developed by DLR Group, Omaha, Nebraska.

Radisson Blu grows in Chile: Radisson Hotel Group Americas has signed the 276-key Radisson Blu Plaza el Bosque Santiago in Nueva Las Condes district in Santiago, Chile. The 15-story hotel, which opened in 2014, is currently operating as Hotel Plaza el Bosque Nueva Las Condes and will open as a Radisson Blu property in the first half of 2022. As part of the transformation, the hotel’s rooms and common areas will be upgraded, while new technology will be introduced. Radisson Hotel Group Americas has more than 1,500 hotels in operation and under development across 120 countries.

Artotel Group expands in Indonesia: Artotel Group, Jakarta, added its second property in Yogyakarta, Indoesia,­ by converting a 141-room 5-star hotel into Artotel Suites Bianti — Yogyakarta. As part of the transformation, the hotel’s façade, public area, rooms and the three existing F&B outlets will be upgraded. Artspace art gallery will also be included. The renovation process will be done over three months and the refreshed property, which will be operated by Artotel, will open in March 2022. This will be Artotel’s second property in Yogyakarta.

Best Western appoints general counsel: Best Western Hotels & Resorts has appointed Jay Pricher as general counsel. Pricher, who joined the organization in 2009, has previously served as vice president of legal. In his new role, he will provide counsel, guidance and leadership on legal matters regarding Best Western’s corporate affairs and membership. He will also advise and assist the board of directors and company’s membership regarding the company’s regulatory documents, membership duties, rights and obligations.

La Quinta by Wyndham launches in China: Wyndham Hotels & Resorts announced the debut of its La Quinta by Wyndham brand in China, with the opening of La Quinta by Wyndham Weifang South slated for later this month. Located in Weifang, the hotel consists of 200 rooms and suites, 3,400 square meters of conference and banquet space and a 1,500-square-meter pillar-free ballroom. The hotel marks Wyndham’s latest addition to its Asia Pacific portfolio, which consists of 1,600 properties in 20 markets and territories.

Monarch Alternative Capital grows portfolio: Monarch Alternative Capital, New York, has acquired the SpringHill Sites and TownePlace Suites Orlando Theme Parks/Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, Florida. Monarch purchased the recently-constructed 335-key, dual branded property at a discount to replacement cost in an off-market transaction due to the pandemic-induced disruption. The 180-room SpringHill Suites Orlando Theme Parks/Lake Buena Vista is a limited-service hotel, while the 155-key TownePlace Suites Orlando Theme Parks/Lake Buena Vista provides extended stay options for both business and leisure travelers. HHM Hospitality, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will be managing the portfolio. Monarch’s presence in Orlando now represents more than 1,500 rooms across four hotels.

CoralTree to manage Hyatt: CoralTree Hospitality, Greenwood Village, Colorado, has taken over the management of the 253-room Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country in Santa Rosa, California. The hotel includes three restaurants, a wine tasting room, an outdoor pool, spa tub and a 24-hour fitness center. CoralTree provides marketing licensing, hospitality and asset management services to 22 hotels and resorts across the U.S.

U.S. market report: U.S. RevPAR is expected to see a 56.2% surge in 2021, 20.2% in 2022 and increase at a 17.1% CAGR from 2020 through 2025, according to the latest Market Intelligence Report for 44 markets by Lodging Analytics Research & Consulting (LARC). U.S. hotel property values are projected to be 10% below 2019 levels by the end of 2021, on par with 2019 values in 2022 and 8% above 2019 values by 2025. ADR and hotel values will recover to 2019 levels by 2022, while RevPAR and hotel EBITDA will reach 2019 levels in 2023. Occupancy will stabilize just below 2019 levels by 2025.

Mohari invests in Riviera Dining Group: Mohari Hospitality, Nicosia, Cyprus, has taken a significant minority stake in luxury restaurant business Riviera Dining Group, Miami Beach, Florida, to fund its expansion plans and support the creation of new concepts. This is the first time Mohari is investing directly in the F&B sector. Supported by Mohari’s investment, Riviera Dining has lined up an array of new concepts, including Casa Neos, a 30,000 square feet destination on the Miami River in Brickell in Miami. The destination will feature a five-room boutique hotel and a rooftop lounge, members-only beach club, and an open-air restaurant. With the help of Mohari’s investment, Riviera Dining hopes to expand in more markets like New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the U.S., along with London, Dubai and Mexico City.