Thursday, April 08, 2010

A $230 Million Mortgage with a $70 Million Chaser

St. Regis Monarch Beach, the posh Orange County resort tarred in a public backlash to corporate travel spending, has a new owner after a transaction that values the property at about $235 million.

Seattle real estate investment company Washington Holdings said Tuesday that it had taken control of the five-star resort and golf course in Dana Point. The venue gained notoriety in 2008 when American International Group Inc. sponsored a luxury retreat there just days after accepting a federal bailout.

Like other hotels, the 400-room resort was hammered by the downturn in the economy. It was further battered as corporate executives canceled meetings and retreats at upscale resorts in part because they didn't want to appear to be living large while a recession squeezed the middle and lower classes.

With the St. Regis at ground zero of the so-called AIG effect, which helped stifle corporate events across the country, group bookings at the hotel plummeted.

Previous owners had refinanced the hotel at the top of the market in 2007, loading it with debt that became burdensome when the economy turned sour. The senior mortgage of $230 million was held by Prudential and Washington Holdings. A secondary loan of $70 million was held by Citigroup Inc.

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