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LOS ANGELES, Calif.— At the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) awards luncheon today, executives and companies responsible for the most influential hotel industry deals in 2015 were honored with prestigious ALIS awards. Nominees are considered for the awards based on outstanding business performance in various industry sectors and determined by ALIS sponsors and delegates. This year’s winners include:

Development (Full Service) of the Year 2015
1 Hotel South Beach – Miami, Fla.
The 426-room 1 Hotel South Beach was developed in a joint partnership with Starwood Capital Group’s Barry Sternlicht and LeFrak’s Richard LeFrak and is managed by SH Group.

Development (Select/Limited Service) of the Year 2015
Aloft South Beach – Miami Beach, Fla.
The 235-room Aloft South Beach was developed by JMH Development and Madden Real Estate Ventures and is managed by Highgate.

Single Asset Transaction of the Year 2015
Waldorf Astoria New York – New York, N.Y.
Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. acquired the Waldorf Astoria New York from Hilton Worldwide and Blackstone for US$1.95 billion.

Merger & Acquisition of the Year 2015
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC / Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Group, LLC
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC acquired Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Group, LLC for US$430 million.

Jack A. Shaffer Financial Advisor of the Year 2015
Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Managing Director, JLL Hotels & Hospitality

JP Ford chaired the ALIS Development of the Year committee, John R. Karver chaired the ALIS Single Asset Transaction of the Year committee, Jackson Hsieh chaired the ALIS Merger & Acquisition of the Year committee and Thomas J. Corcoran chaired the ALIS Jack A. Shaffer Financial Advisor of the Year committee.

Hasmukh P. (H.P.) Rama, chairman of the board and CEO of JHM Hotels, was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. This prominent award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the hospitality industry over his or her lifetime through their actions, deeds, and great accomplishments.

Co-hosted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and Burba Hotel Network (BHN), the  ALIS event features an extensive array of seminars and panels hosted by leading experts and investors discussing important trends and identifying new opportunities. T

Like most everyone else on the East Coast, many hotels are still reeling from the effects of the season’s first blizzard. When a major weather event halts all travel activity, it can be both a blessing and a curse for hoteliers—guests who can’t get to your property have to cancel, but on the other side of the coin are the people stranded by the storm. Read more here.

Mobile technology was the focal point of conversation during the first day of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles. Panelists from Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Google deliberated ways to simplify and enhance the guest experience, while improving hotel operations through smartphone technology. As pressures to release guest-oriented mobile apps grow, these hotels’ primary focus remains on quality and impact on guest loyalty, rather than how quickly they can generate the potential apps, panelists said. To read more, click here.

Cuba’s tourism industry is struggling to keep up as a record number of visitors from around the globe are flocking to the Caribbean island. International buzz ignited after the United States and Cuba agreed to restore diplomatic relations, with many travelers clamoring to see the country ahead of the U.S. tourism surge. Cuba welcomed a record 3.52 million visitors last year, a 17.4 percent increase from 2014, according to Reuters. While American travel to Cuba is still restricted to visitors who fall into one of 12 categories, including those on religious, sporting, or educational exchanges, American visits in 2015 managed to rise 77 percent to 161,000, Reuters reports. To further facilitate travel, the United States today announced changes to its sanctions on Cuba, lifting export payment and financing restrictions and facilitating airline travel. Many of the island’s 63,000 hotel rooms are already booked through 2016. Cuba is looking for foreign investment to meet growing demand, with plans to reach 85,000 rooms by 2020. To learn more, click here.

A recent United States Transactions Trend Report from Lodging Econometrics (LE) has found that hotel transactions in 2015 hit an eight-year high. Last year, there were a reported 1,575 individual hotel and portfolio transactions (excluding merger & acquisition activity), compared to 1,491 in 2014. The 1,575 hotel transactions in 2015 are still 28 percent lower than the peak of 2007, which had 2,178 transactions.

According to the latest United States Construction Pipeline Trend Report from Lodging Econometrics (LE), the total U.S. hotel construction pipeline ended 2015 with 4,413 projects/546,135 rooms. This is the highest year-end total since 2008, but still below the 2007 cyclical high of 5,438 projects/718,387 rooms.

There are 1,312 projects currently under construction, up 226 projects or 21 percent year-over-year (YOY). Projects scheduled to start in the next 12 months, at 1,926 projects, have shown significant increases, adding 575 projects and are up 43 percent YOY. Projects in early planning, with 1,175 projects, decreased by 33 projects and are down 3 percent YOY.

While speaking at the 2016 U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., yesterday, Airbnb’s head of global policy, Chris Lehane, had an interesting offer for the powerful men and women in attendance: To team up and Airbnb would start collecting more taxes. This flies in the face of the lodging industry, which has been outspoken in its disapproval of the way Airbnb runs its business, especially how Airbnb hosts tend to break a litany of local laws and regulations by renting out rooms full time. To read more, click here.

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