Articles Posted in Outlook and Trends

Published on:

20 December 2020

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Hotel Lawyer: What stance should hotels take on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations?

Most of the world has been anxiously waiting for the “silver bullet” of an effective COVID-19 anti-virus vaccine to save lives, reopen business, save severely damaged hotels and restaurants, and restore public confidence. The FDA approval of the first two US vaccines and the massive distribution immediately thereafter is projected to provide sufficient doses of the vaccine for about half the US population by March 2021 and 100% of the population by the Summer of 2021.

But almost before the anti-virus vaccine distribution started, a significant faction of anti-vaxxers started challenging the effectiveness and desirability of taking the vaccine. Many such advocates said they do not want to take the vaccine, or at least want to wait. Some raised questions about the vaccine’s effectiveness and side effects. Issues of allergic reaction and religious conviction (against the vaccine) were raised. “Social control” issues started to shape the debate and the controversy. It is ironic that so many are fighting for priority to get the vaccine first while others fight attempts to force vaccination.

So, what should hotels do to protect their employees and guests? Can – or should – hotel employers mandate vaccination for their public-facing workforce? What are the important legal and business considerations in charting the right course? CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

10 December 2020
Click to see our category-killer experience with hotels. See also our distressed loan credentials and The Lenders Handbook for Troubled Hotels. And click here for the latest blog articles on loan modifications, workouts, bankruptcies and receiverships, and outlooks and trends.

Most of the receiverships in the United States are state court receiverships. But lenders seeking the relief and protection of receiverships are giving new consideration to filing in federal court.
Our partner Nick De Lancie took the lead in putting together this summary of some key factors in making this choice today.

Time for a new look at
Federal vs. State Receiverships

Many state courts are closed or backlogged

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, getting receivers appointed in many state courts may be difficult. Some state courts are effectively closed, others are backlogged, and still others have temporary restrictions on receivership or foreclosures proceedings that push receivership applications even further down the stack.

Federal courts are generally open and working. Federal courts, however, have generally been proceeding with their cases in a more-or-less normal fashion. Even though federal courts do not have the quick receivership hearings that some states permit in ordinary times, federal receiverships, which are not commonly used by secured creditors, can be a very useful remedy for defaulted loans. This is particularly true even when state courts are fully “open for business” where the borrower’s operations and the creditor’s collateral are located in multiple states.

Similarities to state receiverships. Federal receiverships are similar to traditional state court receiverships but they have nationwide scope and may avoid many of the problems that arise from seeking and using multiple receivers, each from a court in a different state. They are historically recognized by federal law and are recognized and governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

19 November 2020

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Hotel Lawyer: Is the hotel industry on the verge of salvation, or precipice of despair?

We are less than a week from Thanksgiving and a lot of new data has been released in the past few days, with important implications for the hotel industry and the economy. Some highlights discussed below are:

  • An American Hotel & Lodging Association survey taken November 10-13, 2020, provides a grim short-term forecast for the hotel industry, saying 71% report they can last only 6 months more, and 34% can last only 1 to 3 more months.
  • A City National Bank (CNB) report provides a November 18 update that new COVID vaccines now claim 90% or higher effectiveness; they might become available in December and be widely available by spring 2021.
  • The same CNB report projects short-term pain (rising COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations) a decrease in consumer activity, and contraction for the economy (driven by COVID) – but projects a strong economic recovery starting with the second half of 2021.
  • CNB Report warns that its projected recovery in for the economy and markets is “unconditionally dependent on [the COVID] vaccine ending the pandemic.”

The AHLA Survey

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) issued a press release on November 19, 2020 with the results of a survey taken November 10-13, 2020 with 1,200 respondents. The survey indicates widespread hotel closures and failures unless there is significant federal economic relief to survive the devastating loss of travel and tourism.

  • 71% of hotels report they will only be able to last 6 more months at current projected business, and 34% say they can last only 1 to 3 months longer.
  • 82% of hotel owners say they cannot obtain additional debt relief from their lenders beyond the end of the year.
  • 59% of hotels says they are in danger of foreclosure by their lenders due to COVID-19.
  • 52% say they will close without additional federal assistance, and 98% would apply for and use another round of Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

15 September 2020

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Boutiques may be adapting faster than other hotel sectors, but still hurting

The theme of the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association’s (BLLA) upcoming Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit is “Dare to Adapt” and there are some compelling arguments as to why the boutique space may be able to adapt to the current economic crisis faster than other sectors in the hotel industry.

“Boutiques can pivot easily,” said Frances Kiradjian, Founder and CEO of the BLLA. “They can make decisions quickly without checking in with brands.”

Take cleaning, an area of great to concern to guests in the current COVID-19 environment. As new information and cleaning methods come to light, boutiques can implement them quickly. As Kiradjian said, “By design, some boutiques have a smaller footprint and fewer rooms, smaller elevators, smaller public spaces, and dedicated staff members who care about delivering a customized experience for each guest.”

Guy Maisnik, Vice Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group, who will moderate the panel “Protecting Your Assets Amid a Pandemic” at the BLLA’s Digital Summit, agrees that boutiques have great flexibility, and being nimble and able to change quickly is critical in this market.

“For one thing, many hotels have gone toward smaller guest rooms and larger indoor communal public spaces,” he said. “Obviously, such configuration does not work in this environment.”

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

25 June 2020

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Meet the Money® Online: CMBS Special Servicing FAQs
for CMBS borrowers, investors and holders

A virtual roundtable of current perspectives, challenges and opportunities for hotel and retail projects

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® is excited to announce that next up in our Meet the Money® Online series is a virtual roundtable discussion among some of the top experts in the complex world of CMBS. If you are a CMBS borrower, investor or holder – or are involved in properties affected by CMBS – you will not want to miss this important conversation.

The online event will take place on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 10:30 AM PDT / 1:30 PM EDT. Register now.

Join our experts online for this 1-hour event which will answer the questions most frequently asked of CMBS special servicers and will also cover important considerations that CMBS holders, borrowers and investors often miss, including:

  • What are special servicers seeing now after the first wave of COVID-19 relief requests? How are forbearance requests being handled?
  • Which loans have larger underlying issues that will require a more complicated and protracted workout?
  • What are the critical appraisal and valuation issues today? What does stabilized value look like, and what assumptions are going to be used?
  • What are the most important effects of Pooling and Servicing Agreements? What do the documents say (or don’t say)?
  • What inconsistencies are showing up and where are they coming from?
  • What are the red flags for loan modifications (or purchase/sale) that could affect the all-important CMBS tax structure?
  • What impact does securitization structure—REMIC, Grantor Trust, CLR/QRS—have on workouts?
  • Can a “special purpose entity” file bankruptcy with independent directors and other bankruptcy remote features in loan documents or corporate structure?
  • Can a hotel be considered “single asset real estate” (or SARE) for streamlined bankruptcy purposes, and why do creditors care?
  • What should we anticipate moving forward?

The program will be moderated by Jim Butler, Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, a founding partner of JMBM, and one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. Devoting 100% of his practice to hospitality, Jim is author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® which focuses on representing hotel owners, developers, and capital providers. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

13 May 2020

Click here to see How JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you, here for the latest articles on the coronavirus and here for the latest materials on loan modifications, workouts, bankruptcies and receiverships.

COVID: First of kind Wisconsin Supreme Court decision strikes down state’s stay-at-home order by vote of 4 to 3

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued his stay-at-home order for nonessential businesses on March 18. On April 16, he extended the order until May 26. Reports say that the governor declined to negotiate with legislators two weeks ago on a compromise to the terms of the restrictive order, preferring to see what the court decided.

It was a winner-take-all decision. This evening, that order was invalidated and the court refused the state’s request for a six-day stay to allow GOP lawmakers and the governors to work out new rules. As a result, all state restrictions are now removed on social gatherings or business.

After a 90-minute online video conference hearing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, the court today issued a decision striking down the governor’s order.

The court ruled that the government exceeded the statutory authority granted during an emergency, characterizing the order as “confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel and closing businesses.”

Justice Rebecca Bradley was one of the concurring justices. During oral arguments last week, she asked the attorneys defending Andrea Palm, Wisconsin’s top health official the following question:

Isn’t it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work, among other ordinarily lawful activities?

The state argued that the legislature gave the health department officials such power, and said people will die if the court strikes down the order. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

30 April 2020

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Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus.

Note: If you are an individual consumer with coronavirus-related travel issues, please do NOT contact us! We do not represent individual consumers. We advise businesses on major contracts, investments and financing. 

Hotels have seen substantial losses in revenue in the wake of the coronavirus, and face the uncertainty of an economy which may take months or years to recover. For many, insurance payments may assist in keeping their business afloat, but few hotel owners or lenders are making claims. JMBM partner Guy Maisnik explains how some hotels may qualify for Business Interruption insurance coverage for COVID-19.

– Jim

Business Interruption Insurance may cover hotel losses
from COVID-19 shelter with judicial claims

Many coverage exclusions focus on disease, not government shelter orders

by
Guy Maisnik

Hotel owners and underwriters have seen the economic prognosis for hotels for the next twelve to twenty-four months, and it does not look good. Modern America 2.0 will not be the America of January 2020 for a long time.

The “V” uptick in the U.S. and world economy will come when the world can pass the “middle aisle test,” as in when will you comfortably: 1) take the middle seat in public transportation and travel; 2) sit on a bar stool or restaurant counter between two others; and 3) attend sports or entertainment events or other public gatherings. Until then, the bottom of the economic “U” may feel like an eternity.

A mistake not to pursue claims

So, what does this have to do with insurance? Everything. Because insurance payments might sustain your business until your guests can pass the middle aisle test. By now, you have read a number of articles written by lawyers and consultants on business interruption insurance – some more measured and analytical and others more aggressive.

Many hotel owners (or their lenders, surprisingly) are not bothering to make insurance claims at the advice of their insurance agents or counsel. These advisors believe there is a low likelihood of making a successful claim based on the 2006 Insurance Services Office (ISO) circular – Form CP 01 40 07 06, which excludes from coverage the loss or damage caused by “virus, bacteriaum or other micororganism that induces or is capable or inducing physical distress, illness or disease.”

In our view, this is a mistake. We believe hotel owners and capital providers should carefully review their insurance policies and coordinate with their consultants, lawyers and brokers to determine whether an aggressive approach is possible.

Policy exclusions are narrowly construed

First, all business interruption insurance policies are not the same. A sophisticated buyer of insurance services – and its legal counsel – will have their policies carefully analyzed. Depending on the policy and applicable law, there can be meritorious arguments in support of coverage, even if a hotel is open and operating.

Second, history and case law are replete with apparently so-called airtight policy exclusions only to find a court holding an insurer liable for coverage. Katrina is the most notable example, with insurers paying out approximately $900 million in coverage notwithstanding flood exclusions. Recently, the Seventh Circuit held that a manufacturer’s insurer must cover its insured, a designer and builder of anaerobic digesters, under its errors and omissions policy for claims alleging breach of contract, despite an express exclusion in the policy for claims arising out of a breach of contract. Similarly, the Ninth Circuit held that a war exclusion did not apply when an entertainment production company incurred damages as a result of Hamas rocket attacks.

The point is that insureds who purchased business interruption insurance and paid expensive policy premiums, should strongly consider pursuing coverage, even if not apparent under the precise language of a policy, particularly taking into account the policy terms, applicable law – both case and statutory – and prior judicial decisions.

The case for income loss coverage

The coronavirus pandemic caused states, cities and counties throughout the U.S. to impose social distancing measures in the form of stay at home, shelter in place and other executive type orders, and required businesses to close and remain closed until otherwise directed. Excluded from such orders were so-called essential businesses, which often included hotels. Regardless of whether a hotel is open or not, such closure and limited closure requirements seriously crippled virtually all hotel revenue demand drivers (i.e., businesses, restaurants, entertainment venues, schools, and so forth). This has had led to disastrous consequences for hotel businesses, severely reducing demand, disrupting operations and supply chains, causing a loss of income. The income losses will extend well beyond the date such orders are removed.

Hotels are suffering damages in a variety of ways as a result of COVID-19 and the shelter orders, most notably income loss, fixed expenses during partial or total closure, structure contamination, reputation damages and third-party claims.

Insurers will aggressively defend

True, there are hurdles to overcome. Given the state of the insurance industry and the large number of claims being made, it is unlikely that your insurance company will simply roll over and write a check. The insurer’s first (and not only) defense will likely be “virus, bacteriaum or other micororganism” exclusion from coverage under its policy, and that further the 2006 circular specifically addresses loss of business income. Hotel policies may also explicitly exclude coverage for property damage and loss resulting from viral and bacterial contaminants such as SARS, MERS, avian flu and the coronavirus. Insurers may even bring their own claim in a separate suit for declaratory relief that there was not an insurable event, which under a business interruption policy is generally defined as a direct physical loss or damage. Regardless, courts may well determine that business interruption and losses were caused by governmental order and not a viral pandemic.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

17 March 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on distressed hotel loans, here for The Lenders Handbook for Troubled Hotels, and here for articles on the coronavirus.

 

Hotel owners, operators and lenders are under stress – hotel defaults, layoffs, and shutdowns loom. Prompt action is critical.

For the last three to five years the pundits have increasingly speculated that the longest economic recovery in history could not endure and that we were due for a recession. We hope that the extraordinary measures being taken now may defer some of the worst fears, but clearly the US economy has been plunged into distress, and the pain is particularly acute in hotels, restaurants and related travel and tourism businesses.

The shelter at home edits of the Federal, state and local governments are literally requesting that people stay at home for the next two weeks. Many hotels have plunged into single-digit occupancies and slashed revenues to cover fixed and operating expenses. Restaurants struggle to see if they can survive on takeout and delivery services alone. Furloughs and layoffs are imminent.

Lenders and borrowers alike are seeking relief, clarity, and resolution. It feels like some blend of the 1990s and 2008. And it is time to go back to the basics or distressed loans: Quick assessment, preparation of plans, transparency, communication, and cooperation for mutual benefit.

The lawyers who comprise JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® have extensive experience and resources that can help hotel stakeholders answer these questions. The issues involved are too numerous to address in one article, and the answers will vary widely depending on each hotel asset and how it is structured.

Today’s article will address how the “structure” of hotel ownership and operations impact the interests of the various stakeholders.

  
Coronavirus: Creative strategies to mitigate financial impact
Loan defaults, lender rights & recapitalizations
by
Jim Butler and Guy Maisnik
JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®

Facing the realities of low hotel occupancy and dwindling operating revenue

Lenders, equity providers, borrowers and operators are facing hard realities regarding the performance of their hospitality assets due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the parties’ rights? What remedies can be pursued? What is the best approach for both the short term and the long term?

Understanding the structure of the hotel asset will help stakeholders answer these difficult questions.

The “operating business” is key

It is often said that hotels are a special real estate asset with an operating business. It really is the other way around: hotels should be thought of as a unique operating business first, within special purpose real estate. This is true not just for hotels, but for assets like timeshares, casinos, gasoline stations, movie theaters, and restaurants. The operating business comprises a large component of the asset’s value.

It is also the operating business that raises thorny problems when cash flow drops dramatically due to matters outside the control of any party – such as a global pandemic or a declaration of national emergency.

Identify and work with all stakeholders

It would be a serious mistake for any stakeholder to believe it holds all the cards in directing the final outcome on asset direction following a calamity. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

20 February 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on the impact of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus continues to be of global concern, and remains an issue the hospitality industry should be tracking, both for economic and legal reasons. Bob Braun discusses whether the virus may trigger a force majeure event for hotel operators and owners, and what that might mean for a property’s performance obligations and other operations.

— Jim
Coronavirus as Force Majeure Event:
What Hotel Owners and Operators Should Consider
by
Robert Braun

Coronavirus (COVID 19) has been a leading news item for more than a month now, competing and often pre-empting other national and international news items. For the hospitality industry, the virus has created severe disruptions in the largest single source of tourists. Hotel companies, both inside and outside of China, have warned of reductions in revenues, and as the virus continues to spread, the trend does not bode well. Like the SARS virus of 2002-2003, coronavirus has the potential to disrupt travel for months, and the travel industry will take time to recover.

Performance Tests and More
The most immediate effect will be seen by hotel companies when they review upcoming financial statements and see shortfalls. This could, among other things, cause some hotels to fail their performance obligations, giving owners the right to terminate a management agreement (unless the hotel operator exercised a right to cure the shortfall). At that point, hotel operators are likely to claim that the impact of the virus constitutes a force majeure event, which would require performance tests to change the performance obligations. For more details on performance tests, see our article on Hotel Management Agreement Performance Standards.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

31 January 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus and here for the latest on force majeure.

Note: If you are an individual consumer with coronavirus-related travel issues, please do NOT contact us! We do not represent individual consumers. We advise businesses on major contracts, investments and financing. 

On January 31, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared the Wuhan coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. The numbers of confirmed cases, as well as the death toll continues to climb. (For current statistics, see the Center for Systems Science and Engineering’s online dashboard that pulls data from the World Health Organization.)

Containing the spread of the disease is of global concern. Beyond the serious human health impacts, businesses worldwide expect disruptions in supply chains for manufactured goods, evidenced by the S&P’s sharp decline on January 31st. The U.S. has issued a “Do not travel to China” advisory, major U.S. airlines announced cancellations of flights to China, and President Trump announced a travel ban on foreign nationals who have traveled to China.

Hoteliers have their own causes of concern.

Chinese nationals comprise the largest tourist market in the world with 159 million outbound tourists in 2019, accounting for 12.2% of all outbound travelers globally and US $275 billion spent. If you cater to even a small percentage of these tourists, their absence will affect your bottom line.

  • Do group travel organizers have contractual obligations to your hotel if they cancel trips due to the coronavirus?
  • If travelers in your hotel infect other guests or your workforce, what is your liability?
  • If you have hotels in China, what responsibilities do you have toward foreign guests who cannot easily return to their home countries?
  • What do you do if your employees refuse to come to work for fear of becoming infected?
  • What policies and procedures should you put in place for managing these kinds of crises?
  • What exactly does your insurance cover?
  • How can you find experts who can help?

CONTINUE READING →

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