Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks with the US hotel group Starwood to acquire St Regis properties in New York and San Francisco, according to Bloomberg.
The talks come at a time when hotels in Qatar feel the heat from low oil prices.
During the first quarter, the average revenue per available room, a key measure of a hotel’s profitability, decreased by 20.4 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to Hotstats data released yesterday. The average occupancy rate declined by 7.5 percentage points as average room rate fell by 12.3 per cent during the same period.
The sale, if it goes through, of the luxury properties in New York and San Francisco would be a part of the US company’s asset-light strategy as it prepares for a takeover from Marriott International next quarter.
Qatar Investment Authority and Starwood Hotels and Resorts did not respond to queries for confirmation.
The St Regis New York has 238 rooms, while the San Francisco property has 260 rooms.
In Middle East and Africa, Starwood’s revenues per available room fell by 9 per cent and the average daily rate by 8.7 per cent in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, according to Starwood’s financial results released this week.
The company has 53 properties in the Middle East, including 25 in the UAE. It expects to grow the portfolio in Middle East to 100 hotels by 2020.
Starwood is also seeking to sell five hotels in the US, including the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, according to Bloomberg. The hotel is one of the largest in Hawaii.
The hotel group is also in talks with Nasdaq-listed Interval Leisure Group for the sale of Starwood’s holiday ownership business, Vistana Signature Experiences. It is expected to go ahead this month.
In February, Dubai-based Al Habtoor Group acquired the historic Hotel Imperial in Vienna from Starwood for US$78.8 million. In September, Qatar’s Katara Hospitality bought The Westin Excelsior Rome for €222m (Dh932.8m). Starwood sold The Gritti Palace in Venice in May last year to Nozul Hotels and Resorts, a wholly owned subsidiary of Doha-based Jaidah Holdings, for €105m.
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