Magna buys Comfort Suites at BWI


An Annapolis-based hotel company announced yesterday its purchase of the Comfort Suites Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The Magna Group, which owns and operates nine hotels, including three in Maryland and others in Maine and Canada, bought the 137-suite hotel for $12.45 million, said Robert Indeglia, executive vice president of Magna Hospitality Group.

The hotel, which has about three dozen employees, opened in 1997, Indeglia said. Its former owner is the Buccini-Pollin Group, which put it on the market last summer.

Indeglia said the property was attractive because of "its location and our understanding and faith in the growth and expansion of BWI."

He said there are no immediate plans to expand the hotel, although the suites will be renovated with new carpet, bedding and drapes.

Indeglia said he considered the acquisition wise, even though the hotel investment market has lagged since Sept. 11, 2001.

"Am I concerned about airline travel as it relates to hotels?" Indeglia asked. "We're always concerned, but we are longtime participants in this industry. Our industry is cyclical in nature, and we believe in the long-term growth in our industry. While air travel is down now, it won't be down forever. And while hotel occupancy, in general, may have decreased since Sept. 11, it won't stay down forever."

Heywood T. Sanders, professor and director of the public administration division at the University of Texas, San Antonio, said the success of the venture "depends on what the traffic looks like at BWI these days, particularly with Southwest [Airlines], which - at a time when the major airlines face very difficult financial situations, and in some cases bankruptcy - seems to be able to fly profitably. It may be the case that they see a market there."

There are about a dozen hotels near BWI airport, including a full-service Marriott.

The Comfort Suites, which Indeglia says is the limited-service hotel closest to BWI, offers oversize suites with combined living and sleeping areas.

Dave Pollin, president of the Buccini-Pollin Group, said the organization received about six bids on the Comfort Suites. He declined to say how much the hotel cost when it was built in 1997. "We decided to market the hotel in the middle of 2002," he said. "It was a stabilized asset, we were happy with it, but in order to redeploy capital into other projects, we selected this one to sell. The investor community has a lofty impression of BWI. We had a lot of interest and numerous parties bidding on the hotel."

Buccini-Pollin's hotel development and operations group, based in Alexandria, Va., has more than 1,000 employees at 11 hotels, including SpringHill Suites by Marriott at BWI, Pollin said.

Magna's co-investors on the project are Nutmeg Partners and Greenfield Partners, both of Norwalk, Conn., Indeglia said.

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