Barry Sternlicht sees ‘frenetic summer’ travel

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Barry Sternlicht sees 'frenetic summer' travel


Billionaire investor Barry Sternlicht told CNBC on Wednesday that the recovery in travel to the United States is on track – at least in parts of the country like Florida – after a Covid-induced slowdown.
“We see all of this pent-up demand coming back. It’s going to be a frenzy this summer, “Miami-based Starwood Capital Group president and CEO said on” Squawk Box. ”

For example, OpenTable’s Miami restaurant attendance data shows that many days in March were higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Sternlicht also said that one of his company’s hotels in the area, 1 Hotel South Beach, was “early in February of this year, before 2019”.

His comments on Wednesday offer a glimpse of the rebound in the US economy from the coronavirus crisis, which devastated sectors like leisure and hospitality. In February, the number of people employed in recreation and hospitality was still nearly 3.5 million fewer than in February 2020, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

However, expectations of significant economic improvement in the coming months are rife. Last week, the Fed raised its projections for U.S. gross domestic product, forecasting an increase of 6.5% in 2021.

“The recovery is well underway,” Sternlicht said, while highlighting recent comments by President Joe Biden that states must open up Covid vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1.

Vaccines are seen as essential to enable the rebound, giving Americans more confidence to engage in economic activities they refrained from during the pandemic, such as vacations and travel.

As of Tuesday, about 25% of the U.S. population received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 14% were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sternlicht believes congested demand will also boost the apartment market in the coming months.

“There are 5 million people who live with their parents. They all go back to the apartments as soon as their jobs return, and people will go back to the office, ”said Sternlicht, whose Starwood Capital focuses on global real estate investments. , hotel management and the energy sector. The Sternlicht-based company also launched Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 1995, which was acquired 20 years later by Marriott International.

“You see people saying they want to meet their people in person. … One of our companies signed a $ 350,000, 15-year lease in Germany in Berlin, ”Sternlicht added.

He compared the desire to be in the office to those who still enjoy seeing movies in theaters despite the advent of digital streaming. “The truth is, it’s a social event,” he said. “People will go back to the cinema and go back to the office.”

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