Cendant acquires Wyndham brand
Locally, that would give Cendant the management rights to Wyndham Orlando Resort on International Drive, a 1,051-room hotel owned by the Illinois Teachers Retirement System.
But the deal's long-term effect would be to provide Cendant's Orlando-based time-share group, anchored by Fairfield Resorts, with an upscale hotel brand.
That means Cendant could more directly compete with Marriott, Hilton, Starwood Resorts and other big time-share players by opening Wyndham time-share resorts or rebranding some of its Fairfield or other properties.
Franz Hanning, head of Cendant's global time-share operations, said the addition of the well-known brand would give the company "a potentially powerful competitive advantage," particularly in urban markets where Wyndham typically operates.
"This makes a lot of sense for us," Hanning said in a telephone interview Wednesday, though he added it was too early to discuss details since the acquisition has not been completed.
Cendant said it expects to close on the deal with New York-based Blackstone Group next month, subject to regulatory approval.
Blackstone bought Dallas-based Wyndham International Inc. earlier this summer for about $1.44 billion plus about $1.8 billion in debt. Now it is spinning off the Wyndham brand while keeping many of the upscale Wyndham properties. Blackstone has created a new brand for those properties, including one in the Orlando area. The former Wyndham Palace Resort and Spa, for example, was renamed the Buena Vista Palace last month and remains a part of Blackstone's new hotel-brand group, LXR Luxury Resorts.
Another Wyndham-branded property in the Orlando market, the Wyndham Palms Resort & Country Club, is not part of the latest deal, Cendant and Wyndham representatives said. That time-share property is owned by Tempus Resorts of Orlando. Cendant and Wyndham representatives said they were uncertain what the sale might mean for the Wyndham Palms name, and a spokesman for Tempus could not be reached for comment.
Cendant already owns a number of hotel brands that together operate more than 70 hotels in the Orlando area -- among them Days Inn, Ramada, Howard Johnson and Travelodge, all more moderately priced hotels. Adding Wyndham to the portfolio will give the company a long-sought luxury name as well, said Stephen Holmes, chairman and chief executive officer of Cendant's Travel Content Division.
"Seems like we've been looking forever," Holmes said of the search for a top hotel brand. "We've seen many opportunities in the past but not with this combination of brand recognition and presence" in the upscale market. "Now it's just a matter of putting resources behind it."
If the deal closes, Cendant will pick up franchise agreements for 82 Wyndham International hotels nationwide and management contracts for another 29 Wyndham hotels. No actual properties are involved.
A spokesman for Wyndham in Dallas said employees were notified of the Cendant deal Wednesday but said no decision had been made about operations at the Dallas headquarters.
Jerry W. Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5721.