The CRE crunch continues claiming victims, with the latest being the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. And while Stuyvesant Town is some dinky little project somewhere on the East side of New York (or so prevailing thought runs), which few care if it goes belly up or not, the fat cats that frequent the opulent hotel on 58th street next to the brothel, pardon, gentlemen's club, which is Tao in all but name, may be a little more concerned about this one. In addition to the Four Seasons, three other luxury hotels, which back a loan sent to a special servicer 10 days ago include the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Montecito, the ritzy Las Ventanas in Cabo, the destination of many a banker closing dinner, and the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito.
The special servicing action has forced S&P to place 15 classes of bonds backed by a $425 million loan to Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts on "credit watch with negative implications." The catalyst for the action and the transition to special servicing was prompted by a staggering drop in cash flows from properties which came 46% below S&P expectations. The loan, which matures in January 2010, and which investors were hoping to recoup full principal on, may now be looking at substantial losses. And due to the declining cash flow, the loan would not qualify for an extension as it is in breach of it debt service coverage ratio.
More indicative of the collapse in the luxury hotel segment is the drop in occupancy for the four properties from 69% in the last fiscal year to a meager 58% recently. Alas the Ty Warner penthouse pictured insert unfortunately does not seem to be seeing a lot of action (if any) these days.
The full blown impact of CRE deterioration on the hotel industry could escalate rapidly: according to RealPoint there are over 1,500 loans with a total balance of nearly $25 billion which may be in danger of default.
The silver lining: REITs now see cap rates at or below 6% in perpetuity... Which unless they are seeing something in the ultraviolet end of the electromagnetic spectrum that is invisible to everyone else, is almost believable.