November 16, 2005

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is selling $4.1 billion of assets, representing 38 hotels, to Host Marriott. Under the terms of the agreement, Starwood will retain management of the properties -- 20 Sheraton hotels, 13 Westins, one St. Regis hotel, two Ws, one Luxury Collection hotel and one nonbranded hotel -- for 20 years from the date of the sale's completion. Starwood will have the option of extending its management contracts for two additional 10-year management terms. Of the 38 hotels, 28 are in North America, six in Europe and two each in Asia and Latin America. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2006, at which time Host Marriott will change its name to Host Hotels & Resorts. "This transaction puts a strategic stake in the ground, accelerating Starwood's transformation from a real estate company with some hotel brands to a consumer lifestyle company with a branded hotel portfolio at its core," said Steven J. Heyer, Starwood's CEO.

The popular cruise port of Cozumel, Mexico, reopened to passenger ships on Monday for the first time since Hurricane Wilma hit last month. The Mexico Tourism Board announced that 12 cruise ships would dock in Cozumel this week. The port will hold a weeklong fiesta with music, dance performances, art displays and street vendors. Nearby ports of Progreso and Costa Maya were unaffected by the hurricane.

The 580,000-square-foot Puerto Rico Convention Center opens Friday in San Juan. The center has 152,700 square feet of exhibit space, 36,400 square feet of meeting space and a 39,500-square-foot ballroom. The center is in the Puerto Rico Convention Center District, a $415 million, 113-acre retail-and-entertainment mecca that is about two-thirds complete. A 500-room Sheraton headquarters hotel with 63,000 square feet of meeting space will open in 2008.

Officials at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago are considering adding up to 600 rooms to the 800-room hotel. A spokesperson said the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns the property, is looking to hire an outside consultant to conduct a feasibility study within the next 60 days.

LXR Luxury Resorts, the new portfolio of mostly ex-Wyndham properties, announced plans last week to renovate the 507-room Rihga Royal Hotel in New York City and the 200-room Bel Age in West Hollywood, Calif. After a complete transformation, the properties will be called The London NYC and The London LA. British designer David Collins has been called on to create the interiors, British chef Gordon Ramsay will operate the restaurants, luxury concierge service Quintessentially will be on hand for VIP requests and a Golden Door Spa will open at the Los Angeles property. The London NYC debuts next fall; The London LA in spring 2007.