Independent, Midscale Hotels Provide Best Buying Opportunities

Although the biggest and most expensive distressed hotel assets have garnered the lion’s share of attention over the past 18 months, in reality it’s the upscale and midscale hotels without food and beverage that have been hit hardest, according to two new reports from Lodging Econometrics.

In April, the Portsmouth, N.H.-based hotel researcher first offered its listings of distressed hotel assets and halted construction projects to clients looking for investment opportunities.The reports include property facts and contact information for ownership groups and primary lenders of distressed assets in the U.S. The reports include construction projects that broke ground but later were halted. They paint a picture of widespread distress affecting the hotel sector.

“These are some of the early investment opportunities surfacing in the lodging business,” says Patrick Ford, president of Lodging Econometrics, which not only tracks development projects around the world, but also the portfolios of lodging investors.

“Many of these opportunities are in prime locations, have nationally recognized brand names and might not have experienced such difficulty if not for the financial crisis,” says Ford. “These projects could offer prime returns for investors throughout the next upswing.”

When the reports were first compiled, they included almost 200 distressed assets and 120 halted construction projects. Six weeks later, the numbers had grown to 229 distressed assets and 156 halted projects [Figures 1 and 2]. The reports are updated weekly as more distress is discovered or resolved.

Of the 229 distressed assets, only 23 fall in the luxury segment, while 34 are upscale, 50 upper upscale and 48 midscale without food and beverage. On the halted construction report, only eight hotels are in the luxury segment, 53 are upscale and 36 are midscale without food and beverage.

“In this last cycle, the upscale and mid-market without food and beverage went through the roof,” Ford explains. Brands like Choice’s Cambria Suites, Starwood’s Aloft and Element and IHG’s Hotel Indigo made their debut, while mainstays like Courtyard by Marriott, IHG’s Holiday Inn Express and Hilton’s Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn grew like wildfire.

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