Las Vegas Sun

December 1, 2015

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Westin Casuarina faces hardships amid economic downturn

Westin Casuarina

The owner of the Westin Casuarina Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas isn’t commenting on how the property is performing during the recession, but real estate watchers say the 826-room property may face foreclosure.

Fitch Ratings today downgraded a class of Wachovia Bank Commercial Mortgage Trust securities issued in 2005, citing several problem loans around the country.

One of the loans that was pooled and sold to investors in the Wachovia securities is secured by the Westin Casuarina on Flamingo Road just east of the Las Vegas Strip.

The Wall Street Journal reported in August that, according to debt rating agency Realpoint, the Westin Casuarina was four months delinquent on its $150 million mortgage.

Both Realpoint and Fitch have reported the loan has moved into special servicing.

They say the property’s owner, hotel operator Columbia Sussex Corp. of Crestview Hills, Ky., has requested loan modifications while the special servicer pursues the foreclosure option.

Like other Las Vegas properties, the Westin Casuarina has suffered during the recession with Fitch reporting occupancy there averaging 60 percent in the 12 months ended in September 2009.

That’s down from 61.5 percent in the 12 months ended in June 2009.

As the property is privately owned, more current numbers are not available.

By trying to maintain relatively high rates, the occupancy at the hotel in 2009 ran well below the citywide rate, which in September 2009 was 83 percent.

Fitch reported in January that for the trailing 12 months ended in June 2009, the average daily room rate was $118.67 and revenue per available room per day (REVPAR) was $72.98, with REVPAR down 26 percent from year end 2008.

The property generated cash flow of $7.9 million during the 12 months ended September 2009, well short of annual interest obligations of $11.9 million, Realpoint reported, according to the Journal.

Fitch noted the former Maxim was constructed in 1977 and underwent an extensive repositioning and a $90 million renovation in 2002, when it reopened under the Westin brand.

Besides the hotel, the Westin Casuarina includes a 13,500-square-foot casino with 265 slot machines and 10 table games, as well as a 25,000-square-foot convention center.

A call for comment to Columbia Sussex hasn’t been returned.

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