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October 23, 2008

Cloudy Skies


Our headline riffs on the wide-ranging predictions offered at NYCREW's "Doom and Gloom or Sunny Skies" '09 hospitality outlook, held last night at the Sheraton Manhattan in Times Square. The bad news: the U.S. has lost 760k jobs, unemployment is at 6.1%, one out of every 416 homes has foreclosed, and home sales are down 40%. The good news: While these factors will negatively affect the hotel market in the near future, it's an expected overcorrection and the long-term forecast looks brighter. (We love happy endings.)


These experts predict softening next year, even in hot hotel markets like New York and San Francisco, and they expect a decrease in travelers, more cost-efficient companies, choosier lenders, and more cautious investors. Panelists included HEI Hotels & Resorts SVP Jin Lee, Westbrook Partners VP Jennifer Rosenblum, Cushman & Wakefield Sonnenblick Goldman EVP Mark Gordon, Starwood Hotels VP Laura Benner, Scotia Capital gaming and leisure chief Michael McCarthy and moderator Elif Bali, an SVP at Loews Hotels. Michael tells us he plans to stay in a Loews hotel soon when he takes his daughter to Disney World for the first time. Elif insists he's not a compensated spokesperson, and, in fact, it's the other way around—Scotia finances the hotels.


There will be bright spots. The panelists agree distressed assets will come onto the market, offering investment opportunities; capital will increase, although more expensive; and, CMBS should be back within 12 to 18 months. Also, rising cap rates will level off by the end of '09 or '10, when RevPAR begins to see positive growth again; meaning, now is the time to start renovations and ground-up developments in preparation for the next up cycle. Above, the panelists mingle with NYCREW board members: Elif, Mark, Jin, Laura, Jennifer, NYCREW president Anna Cassan De Valry, Michael, Ferzan, Robbins & Associates' Elizabeth Muskat (NYCREW president-elect), HSBC Bank's Kate Stentebjerg-Olesen and Cole Schotz's Wendy Berger.


Premier Partners' Ruth Furst, left, a 25-year industry vet, offered three words of advice: Tough it out. Even though business is slow, she's confident New York will bounce back. NYU Real Estate Institute's Orit Manham, Rhodes Associates' Ellen Haber and Westcoast Group's Louise Guido offered no argument.


The Conference Bureau's Sierra Yaun and Harry Javer are still recovering from The Lodging Conference 2008, held in Phoenix last month. Despite the economy, it was well attended, leaving conference producer Harry "very happy."


Schonbraun McCann Group's Jennifer Wang with C&WSG's Lisa Mazzanti. Jennifer recently graduated from Cornell. She chose a great time to enter the market!


Sklar Realty Group's Lydia Sklar, BLDG Management's John Smallwood and Herrick Feinstein's Douglas Heller and Paul Shapses. Lydia (an NYCREW board member), recently repped the owner in lease negotiations with the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America (or, DebRA), noting that non-profits are doing well in this office leasing environment.

Arent Fox
Leo A Daly
Drinker Biddle
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