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At Mid Year 2006 14 hotels in California's Riverside County
 have Sold for $51.6 million
By Kimberly Pierceall, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Oct. 2, 2006 - Hotel developer Noel Heller couldn't replicate Palm Springs' Riviera Resort and Spa, so his company, HBF Holdings bought it rather than build a resort from the ground up.

Heller was one of several hotel buyers who spent more than $3 billion in the first six month of 2006 buying high-profile California properties, according to a mid-year sales survey from Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group.

Because the spending spree follows a record-breaking $4.5 billion spent statewide last year, sales in Riverside County appear deceptively sluggish compared to impressive hotel deals elsewhere, said Atlas Hospitality President Alan Reay.

So far this year, 14 hotels in Riverside County have sold for $51.6 million, compared with 23 hotels sold for $109.6 million in 2005, but Reay says more are on the market.

Orange County's $330 million Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel and San Francisco's $440 million Westin St. Francis, sold this year and were both large contributors to hotel sales that exceeded $3 billion statewide.

Arizona-based HBF Holdings and Noble House Hotels and Resorts paid $21.5 million for the 476-room Riviera Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, making it Riverside County's largest hotel sale, according to the report.

Host Marriott Corp. likely paid much more for the 512-room Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, Reay said. Because the company bought it as part of a $3.76 billion 34-hotel portfolio, Atlas doesn't include an estimated individual price in the county's sales number.

Buyers are seeking limited-service hotels that cater to business travelers and families and that dot Riverside and San Bernardino counties, Reay said.

Among the eight hotels sold in San Bernardino County in the first six months of the year, the 161-room Best Western Ontario Airport Motel sold for $9 million in April and the 117-bed E-Z 8 Motel in San Bernardino sold for $6.7 million, contributing to a 100 percent increase $34.6 million worth of hotels sold this year in the county.

FOR SALE: In the first six months of 2006, 192 hotels have been sold in California worth $3.1 billion* compared with $1.8 billion in 2005, according to an Atlas Hospitality Group survey.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY:

--2006: 14 hotels sold for $51.6 million

--2005: 23 hotels sold for $109.7 million

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY:

--2006: 8 hotels sold for $34.7 million

--2005: 5 hotels sold for $17.2 million

*Totals don't include hotels sold as part of portfolios

Source: Atlas Hospitality Group Mid-year California Hotel Sales Survey

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To see more of The Press-Enterprise, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.PE.com.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

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