Starwood Hotels to Pocket $229M in Sale of 3 Assets in Italy

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has just struck a deal with EST Capital to sell three of its hotels in the Italian markets of Venice Lido and Asolo for $229 million. Among the three properties involved in the transaction are Westin Excelsior and the Hotel Des Bains on the island of Venice Lido, as well as the Villa Cipriani in Asolo. Additionally the binding agreement encompasses an unspecified amount of office, retail, and storage space also in Asolo. “This transaction is part of a strategy already announced to operate an asset right portfolio of hotels with the right balance between owned, managed and franchised hotels,” a Starwood spokesperson told CPN today. The disposition, he said, is not an indication of plans to retreat from certain markets in Italy. “Starwood is expanding its brands footprint in all markets in EAME, from East Europe to Dubai and in all major destinations.” If all goes as planned, the transaction with EST Capital will close during the fourth quarter of 2008. Negotiations are currently in the works for Starwood to maintain its role as manager of the Venice Lido properties. Over the last couple of years, Italy has held onto its position as one of Continental Europe’s most vibrant hotel markets, along with France and Germany, as per real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ Hotel Investment Highlights report. While there was just a limited number of hotel transactions in Italy last year, the amount of money involved in those few trades was substantial. By mid-year, approximately $556 million in single-asset transactions had transpired. Taking advantage of the market’s heat, other hotel companies are either entering Italy or expanding their presence in the market. Last spring Hilton opened the 263-room beachfront Hilton Portorosa, its second Hilton property in Sicily and its second Hilton Worldwide Resort property in the country. Additionally, Starwood will debut its W Hotel brand in the country with a 76-room property in Milan in December of this year. A leading international hotel and leisure concern, Starwood owns, operates and franchises upscale lodging properties under a list of brands that includes St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element. The company boasts a portfolio that encompasses about 890 properties and spans more than 100 countries.