NEW YORK CITY—JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality experts say the sector is on track to reach $25 billion in transaction volumes in the US in 2014, has learned EXCLUSIVELY.

Driving the forward momentum is an abundance of equity capital—led by private equity and REITs but also including a diverse array of other investor types, including off-shore buyers;  strong debt markets, including the re-emergence of the floating rate CMBS market; the resurgence of the resort sector and  rising revenue per available room (RevPAR).

“With $8.3 billion already tallied in hotel transactions in the US, 2014 is on track to contribute to the hotel sector’s momentum,” says Arthur Adler, Americas CEO and managing director of JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. “There is plenty of available capital chasing assets ranging from high-profile full-service hotels to select service portfolios to resorts in markets across the spectrum.”

When it comes to U.S. hotel acquisitions, nearly 60% of transaction volume can be attributed to private equity, REITs and off-shore capital. Private equity continues to lead the pack and accounted for one-third of transactions so far this year. While private equity funds pursue product across the spectrum, primary targets include large select service portfolios, luxury resorts and big ticket full-service hotels.  

REITs continue to prove they are a force to be reckoned and their purchasing volume is anticipated to reach $5 billion this year. REITs target high-quality, branded assets in primary markets.

Rounding out the top three buyer types is foreign capital. Offshore investors are expected to account for a projected $3 billion in transactions in 2014. Asian investors were the most active in 2013, and for 2014 buyers from the Middle East are in the lead.

Resorts were hit hard by the downturn since the demand fundamentals for two of its largest guest segments—leisure travel and group business—took longer to recover. However, resorts are proving worth the wait as sales transactions for the asset class reached $2 billion during the first five months of 2014. Recent high-profile resort transactions include The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami which sold for $213 million in January 2014, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua which sold for $142 million in February 2014 and the Parrot Key Resort in Key West which sold for $100 million in May 2014.

“During the first quarter, resort assets notched nearly 30% of total transactions as consumer confidence continues to make gains,” says Adler. “Competition is high as resorts under construction make up a mere one percent of the supply of resort properties in the U.S., meaning the sector will experience strong gains in RevPAR as demand continues to grow.”

High-quality asset transactions have dominated much of 2014′s market activity. The average price per room of trades during the first five months of the year is up 15% from the same prior-year period, driven by continued RevPAR increases. This year marks the fifth consecutive year of RevPAR growth since the downturn, and the momentum shows no signs of slowing.

Secondary markets like Denver, Nashville and Phoenix have experienced exceptional RevPAR growth, all posting double-digit increases thus far in 2014.

“As 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year of RevPAR gains, we believe that the lodging industry is solidly in the middle of a long-term upward trajectory,” Adler concludes. “We believe that this cycle will extend longer than the nine-year run that took place from 1992 through 2000.  As we look toward the next two quarters of 2014, we anticipate investors will continue making investments in the lodging sector to capitalize on the sector’s strengthening recovery. Strong debt capital markets, plenty of equity capital and more available product have led to positive investor sentiment and rising liquidity.”