Michael Barnello, president and CEO of LaSalle Hotel Properties (NYSE: LHO), joined REIT.com for a video interview at REITWeek 2017: NAREIT’s Investor Forum at the New York Hilton Midtown.
Following a series of deals to sell hotels from its portfolio, LaSalle doesn’t have any immediate plans to acquire more assets, according to Barnello. He described the current landscape in the lodging sector as a “seller’s market.”
“We’re always looking, but from our perspective, the deal has to make sense for us to invest in it,” Barnello said. At the moment, buying back LaSalle stock offers a better use of the company’s capital, according to Barnello.
Regarding guests’ tastes and preferences, Barnello said they continue to gravitate to hotels that offer experiences. LaSalle tends to cater to that audience through its independent properties.
Barnello said he expects the completion of the merger between RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE: RLJ) and FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. (NYSE: FCH) to be one of the major stories in the lodging REIT sector in the second half of 2017. He noted that public-to-public mergers between hotel REITs have been scarce throughout his career. “That would be a big accomplishment,” Barnello said.