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Oakland A's Owner Wolff Considers Selling His Hotels

By Tavis J. Hampton | April 6, 2011

Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff says the time may soon be right for his real estate firm, Maritz, Wolff & Co., to part ways with approximately $500 million worth of hotel property, and return that cash to investors.

In the 1990s, according to Bloomberg, Wolff started acquiring luxury hotels at a time when onlookers considered the moves risky investments.  Those risks paid off, but lately the firm has trimmed its portfolio down to nine hotels, among them the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan.

Deco Suite at The Carlyle in Manhattan
Deco Suite at The Carlyle in Manhattan

Wolff believes his firm can make good money on the hotel sales because A) they are not in a rush to sell them and can therefore set ideal prices, and B) they do not have the "pressure that public companies have".  Ultimately, the goal is to sell while hotel values are regaining strength after the recession slump.

At a time when most would consider it a buyer's market, Wolff and his REIT Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. would rather be on the selling end, making them contrarian investors.  According to those who know him well, Wolff sees far in the future when it comes to real estate and is able to make calculated risks that pay off in the long term.

“I have no emotional ties to any property,” Wolff said. “They are inanimate objects. That’s the only way we can be fair to our long-term investors who trust us to do what’s best.”

Tonga Room Restaurant at the Fairmont in Sanfrancisco
Tonga Room Restaurant at the Fairmont in San Francisco

Maritz, Wolff & Co. is the creation of Phillip Maritz and Lew Wolff.  The company has full or partial ownership of numerous luxury hotels, including Fairmont San Francisco, The Carlyle in New York, Park Hyatt in Sydney, Four Seasons in Toronto, and The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.  Its holdings are valued at more than $1.5 billion.

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