DALLAS-Though total revenues and RevPAR decreased during thefirst quarter 2010, officials at locally-based Ashford HospitalityTrust Inc. said during an earnings conference call Thursday thatthey saw a steady increase in room rates from month-to-month duringQ1. The self-administered real estate investment trust’s assetsinclude 102 hotels.

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The trust reported total revenue decreased by 7.6% for the firstquarter to $217 million, from $234.9 million in Q4 2009. Also,revenue per available room decreased 4.1% in Q1.

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However, CEO Monty Bennett said during the call that RevPARturned positive in March. "Over the last three months, we have seena significant improvement in the lodging industry," he said. "Forinstance, in our portfolio we experienced a RevPAR decline of 11%in January, a decline of 5% in February, and an increase of almost3% in March. This is a fairly rapid recovery and a very positivetrend."

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The REIT also was able to restructure loans and repurchase 5.1million common shares for $29.1 million in the first quarter, saidtrust officials. There is one problem property: the company hassuspended making mortgage payments on a $5.8 million loan set tomature in January and secured by the Courtyard Hartford-Manchesterin Manchester, CT. The loan is now in special servicing and thecompany intends to seek an extension on the loan.

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Bennett said the company remains on track for a targeted capitalspend of $87 million for 2010 to selectively upgrade hotels toimprove competitive positions in the market. "We also expect tobenefit from very limited new supply in our markets," he said.

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