Hotel Sector Not Out of the Woods Yet
The recent iGlobal Forum Global Hospitality & Lodging Investment Summit 2011 was well attended, and the panelists were honest in their assessments of the lodging sector’s near-term future. There are some signs of improvement, but our assessment as audience members is that calling it a "recovery" is premature. There is still more talk (hope) of activity than actual transactions — group bookings remain shaky and are transacted on the basis of higher occupancy without higher rates, and the number of maturity defaults looming on the hospitality horizon remains daunting.
The plan of action for early 2012? Well, it continues to include seeking out assets in distress for acquisition of the loan, the asset or the owner to get to a price at which some form of transaction can occur; hoping that the special servicers and lenders begin to move more assets through the system; and anticipating that the lodging REITS start buying again in early 2012. The outlook is further impacted by the macroeconomic issues roiling the euro zone, most notably Greece and Italy, as well as concerns about the U.S. economy and a lack of significant job growth. So far, the best advice we can offer is to remain focused, stay informed and manage your expectations.