Amid transformation, Starwood sticks to old formula

The asset-light approach is a strategy most hotel companies today are onboard with: selling owned real estate and concentrating on generating revenue through franchising and management fees.

It's a tactic Wall Street and shareholders seems to like.

As Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide continues its transformation and new direction, asset light remains old hat. The latest is the sale of The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., to Host Hotels & Resorts for $400 million, or around $622,000 per key for the 643-room resort property.

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The hotel will subsequently undergo a complete renovation. Starwood will continue to operate the hotel under The Luxury Collection brand, part and parcel of the asset-light strategy: sell, but stick.

“This transaction, on the heels of our sale just a few weeks ago of The Gritti Palace in Venice, marks another important step towards Starwood achieving our stated goal of completing $800 million in asset sales by the end of 2015. The Phoenician is a one-of-a-kind asset and will remain an extraordinary resort in The Luxury Collection...which Starwood is now setting out to transform into the world’s largest luxury hotel brand.”

“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Host Hotels & Resorts and look forward to working together to ensure the continued success of this spectacular resort,” said Simon Turner, president of global development for Starwood. “Starwood continues its focus on selling its owned properties to the right long-term partners, in order to create value for our shareholders. The strength and depth of the global capital markets and robust lodging industry fundamentals create an environment where we are continuing to see strong interest in our remaining assets from a broad, diverse and high-quality array of investors worldwide.”

The Phoenician opened in 1988 on a 300-acre setting at the base of Camelback Mountain. It currently has nine food-and-beverage outlets, approximately 83,500 square feet of indoor meeting space, a 27-hole golf course, seven outdoor pools and a 25,000 square-foot spa and fitness center.

It will be the 36th Starwood property owned by Host Hotels & Resorts.

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