06/29/2012

$230 Million Loan Sought for Aruba Resort

The owner of a resort hotel and casino in Aruba is shopping for a $230 million mortgage to retire the property’s existing debt.

The 441-room Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is controlled by Caribbean Real Estate Opportunity Fund, a vehicle backed by Whitehall Street Real Estate and hedge-fund operator Perry Capital. Fund manager Caribbean Property of New York would prefer a floating-rate loan, but is also entertaining bids for fixed-rate financing. Jones Lang LaSalle is shopping the assignment. Both securitization shops and banks are looking at the proposal.

The fund bought the leasehold interest in the hotel-casino complex in 2006 for $237 million and performed a substantial renovation. Deutsche Bank originated the existing $230 million debt package in 2007. It includes a $125 million senior mortgage and three slices of mezzanine debt.

The Aruba Marriott is on the island’s northwest shore, in a section known as Palm Beach. It encompasses a 17,000-square-foot casino and seven restaurants. The property is adjacent to two Marriott time-share vacation properties, which have a combined 1,200 units.

The resort has benefitted from a general rebound of the Caribbean hotel industry in recent years. Hotel occupancy in the region rose 2.6% last year, to 61.8% overall, according to Smith Travel Research. Average daily rates were up 2.6%, to $167.54, and revenue per available room increased 5.2% to $103.57 — the highest levels in each category since 2008.

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