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WestCoast Hospitality Corp. Identifies the
 11 Hotel Properties Being Sold

By Jonathan Nelson, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Dec. 1, 2004 - The Red Lion Hotel at the Quay, which already has added new beds and high-speed Internet access, is due for further improvements as part of a $40 million companywide refurbishment.

WestCoast Hospitality Corp., operator of the 160-room waterfront Quay, which also includes restaurant and meeting space, is embarking on the company's most significant improvement program at a time when the travel industry is rebounding. The investment will improve customer comfort, technology and the appearance of 31 properties.

To pay for the $40 million face-lift, WestCoast said Tuesday it is selling 11 properties. They include:

  • an office-retail complex,
  • the WestCoast Ridpath and Budget Inn in Spokane;
  • Red Lion hotels in Aberdeen and Yakima; Idaho Falls and Boise, Idaho; Kalispell, Mont.; and Hillsboro, Bend and Klamath Falls, Ore.

Julie Langenheim, WestCoast investor relations manager, said the hotels being sold are in cities where the Spokane-based company operates multiple properties.

It has not been determined how the Quay will benefit from the latest infusion of cash. Langenheim said the company hopes to have a blueprint by January that outlines the work to be done at each hotel.

The 38-year-old Quay has already benefited from an $11 million investment WestCoast spread across its hotels earlier this year.

The company added pillow-top mattresses, upgraded pillows and is using new linens to dress beds in triple sheeting. Air-conditioning units were improved, and wireless, high-speed Internet access is provided for guests as part of a companywide program to increase the comfort level of its properties.

Langenheim said general areas of focus for improvement will be continuing to replace old beds with the new version, upgrading bathrooms and replacing worn carpeting.

The fate of the Quay has gained increasing scrutiny as a hotel and conference center takes shape in downtown Vancouver. That facility, to be operated by Hilton Hotels, opens next summer.

WestCoast leases its Vancouver riverfront property from the Port of Vancouver. Records show rent payments have dropped from a high of $334,144 in 1996 to $224,442 in 2003. Those payments are formulated using occupancy rates.

WestCoast officials don't disclose occupancy rates for specific properties. Companywide occupancy for the first six months of the year was 54.8 percent, up 4.2 percent from the previous year, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Hotel-restaurant revenue for the first half of the year was up 2 percent to $79 million.

WestCoast, which is publicly traded on the New York Stock exchange, closed Tuesday at $5.07 a share, down 12 cents.

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