Hotel visionary and billionaire Barry Sternlicht is unwinding his Westin hotel portfolio in Canada with the sale of three luxury hotels in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.
The trio of Westins is considered a "rare portfolio of assets" and together they are expected to fetch between $475-million and $525-million, according to Curtis Gallagher, vice-president of hotel investments at Cushman & Wakefield, who was hired to sell the properties.
"There is very little comparable product available for sale right now. We have received interest from all over," he said.
Over the past few years, Mr. Sternlicht and his Starwood Capital Group private investment firm have sold two other Westin hotels in Canada in what are considered some of the country's most lucrative hotel deals: The Westin Bayshore in Vancouver was sold for $288-million and the Westin Harbour Castle on Toronto's waterfront was sold for as much as $400-million.
The latest Starwood Capital hotel sale comes amid strong job creation in Ontario and as Alberta's economy shows signs of life.
Although hotel occupancy rates in Edmonton hit a five-year low of 55 per cent last year, rates in Calgary are rebounding, according to data from Smith Travel Research. Ottawa is the country's third-strongest market for hotels after Vancouver and Toronto and last year reached its highest occupancy level in five years at 75 per cent.
Hotels in Edmonton and Calgary had some of their best years during the oil boom, when occupancy rates were comparable to Toronto's levels.
"We are off those years, but you can see the upside. We are moving in the direction back towards higher," Mr. Gallagher said.
The four-star properties were put on the market on Friday and the first round of bids are expected in the second half of March.
The Ottawa Westin, with 492 rooms, is in the heart of the city by the Rideau Canal and next to a shopping mall and convention centre. The Calgary location, with 525 rooms, is in the city's downtown core and also close to a convention centre. The Westin Edmonton, with 416 rooms, is within the city's financial district.
Two new Westin hotels are being developed in Calgary and Edmonton, although Mr. Gallagher said they are not in the same location. "Ours are right downtown."
Although Starwood Capital owns the three Canadian Westin properties, Marriott International Inc. owns the Westin brand and manages Westin and Marriot hotels as well as other brands such as St. Regis, W Hotels and Sheraton.
Connecticut-based Starwood Capital was founded by Mr. Sternlicht and manages about $56-billion for its partners and clients.