Host Hotels & Resort won’t buy D.C.’s Grand Hyatt

Based on Host Hotels & Resorts Inc.’s earnings, it’s more likely that economic uncertainty, not financial instability, drove the hotel company’s decision not to purchase the Grand Hyatt in D.C.

That could mean other potential hotel buyers may be similarly cautious when eying the Hyatt, at least in the short term.

Host’s decision, which was announced Tuesday, means the company is forfeiting a $15 million deposit that it made on the hotel. The Bethesda-based company disclosed its original agreement to buy the property in a regulatory filing back in July.

Despite Host’s decision not to buy the property, it has been relatively active in the market in the past year, buying 14 hotels. Though, in September, Host also canceled its plans to buy a St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Dana Point, Calif.

In a statement Tuesday, Host said it will resume acquisition activity next year.

Like many hotel companies, Host saw its stock price fall in the third quarter by 35 percent, likely due to uncertainty surrounding the economic climate. But the quarter in general was a strong one for the company compared with the same time period in 2010. Owned hotel revenues increased 15 percent in that time to $1.1 billion. The 14 new properties the hotel bought brought in $99 million in revenue during the quarter. And quarterly net loss for Host was $35 million, compared with $61 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Although the economic uncertainty could quiet hotel acquisitions for the rest of 2011, and even early 2012, there still are plenty of hotel purchasers active in the market — particularly real estate investment trusts, many which are based in D.C. — should the Grand Hyatt seek another buyer. The hotel is owned by D.C.-based Quadrangle Development Corp., which did not immediately respond to queries on whether it would pursue another buyer.

Bethesda-based Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE: PEB) has found the local market attractive for hotel purchases, but has focused more on what it calls “upper-upscale” properties. Additionally, Virgin Group’s fledgling hotel arm has been scoping out the market and says it will explore properties in D.C. with the intent of rebranding. Bethesda’s DiamondRock Hospitality completed its acquisition of the Courtyard Denver this summer, and it also agreed to sell off three properties for $262.5 million during the third quarter, boosting its financial performance and freeing it up for future acquisition possibilities.

Despite recent caution, 2011 is still shaping up to be an active year for hotel sales, at least compared with recessionary lows. So far this year, 266 hotels have changed hands nationally, compared with 199 in 2010 and 97 in 2009, according to data from New York-based research company Real Capital Analytics Inc. The Washington area represented 23 of those properties this year, 38 properties in 2010 and just seven properties in 2009.


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