ALIS is Abuzz with Deals

Nearly 2,000 hotel executives showed up in sunny Los Angeles in January for the Americas Lodging Industry Summit. Very seldom, however, were all of them in the same room at the same time. While the general and breakout sessions were well attended, the real action — dealmaking — was taking place in countless meeting rooms, hospitality suites, poolside cabanas and the Hyatt Regency Century City's various bars and restaurants.

Those who attended the sessions heard a lot of good news, especially concerning the continued inflow of capital to the hotel market and the generally slow trickle of new lodging development.

A report released at the conference by Ernst & Young predicted that real estate private equity funds will channel as much as $20 billion into lodging investments this year. As E&Y's National Director of Hospitality Services Michael Fishbin said, “We expect investor appetite for hotel deals to grow in 2006, especially in major markets, where rooms rates have shown strength and occupancy rates have improved.”

Contrary to accepted wisdom, the report also predicted that the increased capital interest in hotels will spur an increase in new hotel development. Fishbin believes many developers will pre-sell their projects to capital sources as a way to kick-start new lodging development.

Like most industry conferences, ALIS was also filled with award presentations. Among the most prestigious is the International Society of Hospitality Consultants Pioneer Award, which this year the group gave to H.P. Rama, chairman and CEO of JHM Hotels. Rama is a former chairman of AH&LA and one of the founders of the Asian American Hotels Owners Association.

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