W-hoa: Owners To Turn W San Diego Over To Bank

San Diego is often referred to by its sobriquet: "America's Finest City." For Sunstone Hotel Investors, they've seen rosier days in this SoCal destination. The real estate investment trust (REIT) is prepared to turn its 258-room W San Diego hotel over to its lenders after it expects to default on its June mortgage payment after an unsuccessful attempt to renegotiate for lower interest payments. 


Travel Agent contacted Starwood headquarters in White Plains on Monday and a spokesperson said that, "as of right now, the hotel is still open as a W." We will have more specific information later in the day, so check back.

Unsurprisingly, Sunstone blames the predicament on continued deterioration in demand at the luxury hotel level. Additionally, San Diego of late has absorbed more high-end supply such as luxury boutique hotel Sé San Diego and, ironically, three additional Starwood-operated hotels are in the vicinity: The US Grant and two Westins. (Starwood operates the W brand).

Sunstone purchased the W San Diego in June 2006 for $96 million from developers. The AP reports that "since Sunstone feels the W San Diego is now worth much less than what it owes, the company would rather turn it over to the bank than have hefty interest payments continue to drain cash from its balance sheet."

As of March 31, the Sunstone owned 43 hotels in the upper-upscale segment operated under brands including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Fairmont and Starwood.

"We continue to run our business with the expectation that 2009 will be one of the deepest cyclical troughs the lodging industry has endured," said Arthur Buser, president and chief executive of Sunstone. "While we are generally pleased with our results thus far this year, as our recent revenue declines are largely the result of lower rate, rather than reduced occupancy, we expect margin control will become increasingly difficult."

Visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

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