This is not just a Bay Area “doom loop” story, as Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust is handing back the keys to 19 U.S. hotels, four of which are in Oakland, Newark, and Walnut Creek.
One of the primary fallacies of the media-hyped San Francisco “doom loop” narrative is the assumption that retail closures and challenging economic headwinds only apply to San Francisco. When the owners of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 hotels announced they were surrendering those properties to their lender, media reports tied this to the Nordstrom closure and the ills of the Westfield Center shopping mall.
But it’s hardly a San Francisco problem when a Dallas-based hotel chain announces it's abandoning 19 of its hotels nationwide, surrendering these properties to their lenders in cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Plano, Texas. None of the closures are in San Francisco, but the Bay Area News Group reports that four East Bay hotels are being surrendered as part of this debt offload.
Four East Bay hotels will be given to lenders in brutal lodging market https://t.co/iCKkr2NjSN— East Bay Times (@EastBayTimes) July 10, 2023
The four are all chain hotels owned by Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust. Per the News Group, the East Bay hotels are the Courtyard by Marriott Oakland Airport in Oakland, Courtyard Newark Silicon Valley in Newark, Residence Inn San Jose Newark in Newark, and Embassy Suites Walnut Creek in Walnut Creek.
The SF Business Times points out these surrenderings were announced Friday, and that “the properties failed to meet debt yield tests or attract offers for more than the debt that is owed.” That publication notes that Ashford Hospitality Trust is keeping 15 of their hotels secured by commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) loans, including the Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley.
“This is a prudent economic decision that reflects a comprehensive capital management process by the Company, which explored and assessed multiple options for these assets including refinancing, extensions, and potential asset sales,” Ashford Trust CEO Rob Hays said in a release. And golly, we’re sure seeing a lot of this wealthy companies not paying their bills being framed as a “prudent economic decision” these days.
Trouble in Republican megadonor paradise: Monty Bennett's Ashford Hospitality Trust "plans to hand back the keys for 19 hotels after failing to meet debt yield tests on maturing loans." https://t.co/nqf9LLNogD— steven monacelli 🆓 (@stevanzetti) July 10, 2023
And there is some hay being made that that Ashford Hospitality Trust’s parent company Ashford, Inc. is helmed by Republican megadonor Monty Bennett, who gave at least $3.8 million to the RNC and the Trump camping in 2020, and also just happened to get $58 million in PPP loans before returning them amidst backlash.
These four East Bay hotels are unlikely to close — the banks will probably just shop them to new owners. And as with the SF Hilton and Parc 55, the public announcement of the nonpayment could indicate this is just be a negotiating tactic to redo the terms of some or all of these loans.
But this clearly marks that other cities are having hospitality and hotel downturns too. Similarly, there was some local media skirmish last week that San Francisco Airbnb bookings were down, supposedly because of the bad press the city is getting. But Airbnb listing revenue is falling all over the country, including in supposedly red-hot Austin, Texas. So there’s clearly a nationwide hospitality downturn, one that’s far more complicated than many headlines suggest.
Image: Jamal C via Yelp