A look back: 2018's top investment/development stories

Wyndham is proving that diversification pays off as it integrates AmericInn into its system, spins off its two core business units and finalizes the acquisition of La Quinta Holdings.
Wyndham announced plans to acquire La Quinta in January. Photo credit: La Quinta Holdings

It was a busy year for the global hospitality industry, with mergers, acquisitions and development keeping the industry on the upper end of the cycle for another 12 months. There were some major deals, some notable rebrandings and new steps into different business models, all of which sets up hoteliers for a strong 2019.

Here's a look back over some of the bigger moments of the year. 

Wyndham Worldwide Buys La Quinta for $1.9B

The year kicked off with a big buy: Wyndham Worldwide Corp., a holding company for Wyndham Hotel Group, announced it would buy La Quinta Holdings’ hotel operations for $1.9 billion, adding the brand’s nearly 900 midscale and economy properties to its portfolio.

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The deal came just as La Quinta was setting up its own spinoff, with the company’s real-estate business becoming its own separate entity known as CorePoint Lodging. The deal, completed in May, gave CorePoint 316 properties and approximately 40,500 rooms, all included in the Wyndham acquisition.

Hyatt Expands Portfolio with Acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality

In October, Hyatt Hotels Corporation signed an agreement to acquire Two Roads Hospitality, an international lifestyle hotel management company headquartered in Denver.

Through the addition of Two Roads, its established lifestyle brands and the management agreements for the majority of its 85 properties in eight countries, Hyatt expanded its brand presence into 23 new markets. Once complete, the acquisition will bring more than 16,450 guestrooms into Hyatt's portfolio for a total of more than 210,000 guestrooms across 835 hotels worldwide. The deal was completed in December.

Wyndham Sells Knights Inn Brand to Red Lion 

Ahead of Wyndham Worldwide spinning off its hotel business into two separate and publicly traded companies, the company sold its Knights Inn brand to RLH Corporation for $27 million in April. At the time of the deal, there were around 350 Knights Inn hotels operating across North America and a pipeline of 47 hotels.

The transaction closed in the second quarter.

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas Becomes a Waldorf Astoria

In May, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group received notice of termination of its management agreement for Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, following the sale of the hotel by CityCenter Holdings, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Infinity World Development Corporation. CityCenter Holdings sold the property for $214 million to an undisclosed buyer, and the management agreement ended later that summer.

Several days later, Hilton confirmed that Waldorf Astoria will assume full operation of the property, with plans to "re-imagine and renovate the hotel with brand touches and improvements." The rebranded property officially opened in August.

Jennifer Fox leaves Millennium & Copthorne Hotels

Jennifer Fox, group CEO of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, stepped down three months after taking up the position.

M&C said Fox and the London-based hospitality business “mutually agreed” she would depart the company effective immediately. As part of her departure, Fox was reportedly paid roughly $1.3 million in salary, bonus, pension compensation and other benefits. 

Caesars Grows its Hotel Brands

During June’s NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, Caesars Entertainment President and CEO Mark Frissora detailed how the company is turning four of its signature hotels into brands that are open for licensing around the world, growing inot new markets beyond the gaming hubs of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

The Caesars Palace brand will apply to luxury hotels, while Cromwell will cover the luxury lifestyle/boutique sector. Flamingo will be the upscale brand and Linq will be the upscale select-service flag.

Marriott Partners with Hostmaker on Home-Sharing Pilot

In April, Marriott International, already the largest hotel company, joined Hyatt Hotels Corporation and AccorHotels Group in the world of home-sharing. 

In order to break into the sharing economy, Marriott entered into a temporary trial with Hostmaker, a London-based, homestay property-management company. By visiting TributePortfolioHomes.com, travelers could book a stay in London homes that will be considered members of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio. The pilot program also was expanded to Paris, Rome and Lisbon in October.

Greece's "Reckless" Tourism Tax

Just as the year kicked off, Greece implemented a 'stayover' tax that went into effect just as the country wrapped up an auspicious 2017 with a 9-percent increase in tourism arrivals, bringing the total to more than 30 million visitors. 

The Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers attacked the tax, with president Yiorgos Tsakiris arguing the tax would cause a decrease in the demand and competitiveness of the Greek tourism product. “Either directly if passed on to consumers, which means that its price will rise, or indirectly, if it is absorbed by the hotels,” he said. This, he added, would mean Greek hoteliers would automatically see a drop in revenue—“and, consequently, to their financial results, which will reduce investment and lead to a downgrading of the quality of the services provided.”