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Small Hoteliers in Tampa Bay Area Taking it on the Chin
with Bankruptcy Filings Rising

By Michael Sasso, Tampa Tribune, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jun. 2, 2010--TAMPA -- Small hoteliers are taking it on the chin, with at least four in the Tampa Bay area seeking bankruptcy protection since March.

Last week, the owners of a 75-room Hampton Inn, 11740 Tampa Gateway Blvd. in Seffner, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa. Chapter 11 allows a company to reorganize its finances while protected from creditors.

The hotel's owners opted for bankruptcy when Bank of America started foreclosure proceedings, according to bankruptcy court documents. The bank claims it is owed at least $5.5 million.

Revenues at the Seffner hotel fell about 30 percent last year from 2008, although revenues have picked up recently, the owner of the motel, Llenroc Hospitality, says in documents.

Other small hotels also are looking to refinance or discharge debts in bankruptcy lately.

In mid-April, Grayl's Hotel, a small Spanish Mission-style hotel overlooking the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront, filed for bankruptcy protection. In court documents, its owner says cash flow has suffered in the past two years, leaving it unable to pay its recurring bills.

In early April, the owners of a Best Western All Suites franchise, at 3001 University Center Drive near Busch Gardens, sought Chapter 11 protection. The 150-room hotel said its revenues had fallen 63 percent from 2006 to 2009.

Finally, in mid-March, owners of a Comfort Inn on Oakley Boulevard in Wesley Chapel filed for Chapter 11. In documents, the motel says reduced cash flow caused it to file.

While each hotel has its own problems, hotels of all stripes have suffered through the recession and had to cut prices.

Last year the average daily rate for a hotel stay was $92.69. That was down from $103.88 in 2008, according to figures from Tampa Bay & Co., the county's tourism marketing agency.

Reporter Michael Sasso can be reached at (813) 259-7865.

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