(PEB) Pebblebrook Hotel Trust Acquires West Los Angeles Hotel

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB), a real estate investment trust (REIT), has recently acquired W Los Angeles – Westwood – a 258-room luxury full-service hotel in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, for $125.0 million. The transaction is the third of its kind in the Los Angeles market, after the acquisition of the 237-room Mondrian Los Angeles in West Hollywood in April 2011, and the 310-room Sheraton Delfina Santa Monica in Santa Monica in November 2010.

The hotel was acquired from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT). Post-acquisition, the hotel will continue to be managed by Starwood according to a 40-year agreement to continue operating the hotel under the W flag. The deal reinforces a long-term association with Pebblebrook as it manages two of its other hotels, namely The Westin Gaslamp Quarter hotel in San Diego, California, and W Boston in Boston, Massachusetts.

The acquired property is strategically located in a dynamic, high-barrier-to-entry market adjacent to one of the most popular shopping, dining and entertainment destinations of the region. With an estimated 25 million tourist visits annually, Los Angeles is arguably the second-most visited city by overseas visitors. This has fueled steady growth in demand for upscale accommodation over the years, which in turn has also benefited from a historically high supply-constrained environment.

With the acquisition Pebblebrook has added a prize cap in its feather that is likely to be accretive to its earnings. On the other hand, the asset sale is part of the long-term asset-light strategy of Starwood, which aims to unlock real estate value by giving away ownership of selective assets and retaining the brand name instead. This in turn ensures a steady management fee while lowering variable costs, thereby offering more financial flexibility.

The hotel features luxurious all-suite guest rooms with state-of-the-art technology and entertainment facilities. In addition, the hotel showcases expansive landscaped outdoors, a heated modern pool and cabana filled relaxation area, a casual poolside bar and restaurant. The hotel also offers 3,300 square feet of indoor meeting space and an upscale spa, a fully-equipped 24-hour fitness center, a 132-space parking garage with valet service, and a high-design music-oriented bar.

Pebblebrook and Starwood are further mulling over a multi-million dollar public space renovation exercise to renovate the restaurant, the ground floor lobby, lobby bar and public space, and upgrade and refurbish the meeting space and pool area. With the current acquisition, Pebblebrook has increased its portfolio tally to 24, comprising $1.9 billion worth of invested capital since its initial public offering in December 2009.

Pebblebrook currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. We have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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