FelCor Lodging welcomes weary North American travelers looking for a little luxury. One of the top hotel real estate investment trusts in the US, FelCor owns interests in about 65 properties with roughly 19,000 rooms in more than 20 US states and Canada. Most are upscale hotels operating under the Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Doubletree, Sheraton, Westin, Renaissance, and Hilton brands. The properties are managed by Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Fairmont. It also has several independent hotels in New York. FelCor's portfolio is concentrated in major metropolitan and resort areas of Florida, California, and Texas.
California is FelCor's largest market, accounting for about a quarter of its total revenue. Florida and Texas represent 15% and 9% of sales, respectively. Recently, FelCor has been growing in Midtown Manhattan, a new market for the hotel REIT.
Felcor's sales grew 2% in 2011 vs. 2010, marking the second consecutive year of sales growth, following a steep decline during the recession. Indeed, FelCor's sales are still shy of their pre-recession high, which topped $1 billion. 2011 marked the fourth consecutive year of unprofitability for FelCor, although the company narrowed its losses. The hotel REIT benefitted from an increase in business and leisure travel in 2011, while new hotel construction remained at historic low levels. Sales were driven by both higher occupancy and room rates. Also, recently acquired hotels, including the Fairmont Copley Plaza (August 2010), and Royalton and Morgans (both in 2011) contributed to sales growth.
After selling nine hotels in late 2010 for a total of about $222 million (the proceeds from which were used to pay down debt), FelCor embarked on a buying spree in Midtown Manhattan -- a pricey real estate market indeed. In 2012, it acquired the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square for $115 million, after purchasing two other hotels in the neighborhood -- The Royalton and Morgans -- for $140 million in 2011. The 2011 transaction marked the company's first foray into the attractive New York City market and furthered its strategic plan of expanding into new metropolitan areas.
In 2011, Felcor spent $92 million, primarily to renovate six hotels and redeveloping significant portions of the Fairmont Copley Plaza and Morgans. Upon completing the work at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in 2012, FelCor repositioned the hotel closer to its luxury competitors, including upgrading 12 rooms to Fairmont Gold, adding a new rooftop fitness center and spa, and redeveloping the food and beverage outlets and the public areas. In early 2012, the REIT began marketing an additional 10 hotels for sale. – less