Starwood signs deal to sell St. Regis Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Starwood signs deal to sell St. Regis Aspen

St. Regis Aspen

ASPEN – The owner of the St. Regis Aspen has found a buyer for the hotel after listing it for sale almost two years ago, a company spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. reached an agreement to sell the property to 315 East Dean Street Associates Inc., according to Gigi Ganatra Duff, Starwood’s senior director of global public relations. The buyer is a Delaware corporation represented by Bangkok-based OptAsia Capital Co., Starwood said in a statement.

OptAsia is a “boutique investment bank specializing in the real estate and hospitality sectors,” the company’s website says. No further information on the buyer it is representing in the St. Regis deal was immediately available.

The anticipated sale date is “on or around Sept. 30,” Duff said. The sale price wasn’t disclosed.

The hotel had an actual value in 2010 of $79.5 million, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office. A Starwood subsidiary listed as Starwood Aspen Realty LLC owns the property.

Starwood will continue to operate the hotel, one of Aspen’s signature properties, through a long-term management agreement, which was a requirement of the sale. It will be business as usual at the property, with no change in operations, service or staffing, Duff said.

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The St. Regis has 179 guest rooms and suites, along with conference space that makes it attractive for business groups, and a ballroom popular for private and public events.

Additional hotel rooms were converted to 25 fractional ownership suites earlier this decade. They are managed separately from the hotel. A representative of Starwood said previously that the fractional ownership units wouldn’t be part of a sale.

The total size of the St. Regis complex is 243,040 square feet, according to the assessor’s office.

Starwood owns and operates luxury and upscale hotels and resorts around the world. Its portfolio totaled 979 hotels, with roughly 292,000 rooms in about 100 countries, as of Dec. 31, 2009, according to the company’s website. But in 2006, the global chain shifted its focus.

“We have implemented a strategy of reducing our investment in owned real estate and increasing our focus on the management and franchise business,” the website said. “In furtherance of this strategy, since 2006, we have sold 60 hotels for approximately $5.2 billion.”

The Aspen hotel was listed for sale in November 2008. In addition to a long-term management contract, Starwood aimed to secure a commitment for capital investments in the hotel as part of the sale, Starwood representatives previously told The Aspen Times. Surrendering ownership while retaining management was viewed as a quicker way to infuse capital into the hotel.

A source who claimed to have knowledge of the deal but who didn’t want to be identified said the sale agreement includes ten of millions of dollars in renovations invested by the buyer.

If the sale goes through, it will be the second time the lucrative property near the base of Aspen Mountain has changed hands – and brands. The hotel opened as a Ritz-Carlton, but the luxury chain abandoned the property in August 1997 in a fight with the former ownership group. Starwood bought the Aspen hotel a short time later and changed the hotel to a St. Regis.

Starwood said in a prepared statement that guests of the hotel won’t notice any type of change.

“St. Regis Aspen won’t skip a beat in ensuring [that] there is no interruption to the signature St. Regis service and exceptional guest experience which distinguishes St. Regis properties around the world and has made the hotel one of Aspen’s finest addresses,” the company’s statement says. “We are proud of the hotel’s performance and remain committed to providing our guests with a flawless experience at every turn and are confident we will continue to do so.”

scondon@aspentimes.com