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WICHITA, KS-Candlewood Hotel Co. says its occupancy increased to 72.6% in the first quarter, compared to 71.1% in the first quarter of 2001. But an indication that corporate business travel has been slow to recover is a 7.4% decline in revenue per available room to $40.72.

Hotel officials have attempted to keep occupancy rate up by reducing the hotel rates. As a result, the average daily rate fell to $56.06 from $61.89 in the first quarter of 2001.

Hotel operations revenue for the three-month period ended March 31 was $30 million, down slightly from $31.2 million for the same period in 2001.

Income from hotel operations was $9.8 million for the first quarter of 2002, compared with $12.4 million for the comparable period in 2001.

The company reported a one-time $8.6 million asset impairment expense in the 2002 first quarter, as part of the previously announced sale-leaseback transaction with Hospitality Properties Trust. Loss before preferred dividends was $11.7 million for the quarter compared with a loss of $741,000 for the same time period in 2001.

Adding in the payout preferred dividends, the net loss was nearly $13.7 million.

Candlewood Hotel Co. owns, operates and franchises 78 hotels under the Candlewood Suites and Cambridge Suites names.

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