SAN DIEGO-The San Diego hotel market continues to make waves with the recently-completed Hilton Garden Inn in Rancho Bernardo selling for $34.5 million. Hospitality REIT Apple Suites picked up the 200-room property, adding to their 64-hotel portfolio.

The seller was Bernardo Ventures LP, a joint venture between Presidian Companies of San Antonio and Pacific Hotel Investors, based in Santa Barbara. Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels arranged the transaction.

Completed in December 2004, the Hilton Garden Inn “has seen extraordinary gains in both average daily rate and occupancy,” says Los Angeles-based John Strauss, a senior vice president for Jones Lang LaSalle. Strauss says that given the accelerated movement of the hotel market, the acquisition will be among the county’s prime assets.

Driven by biotechnology, the high tech industry and defense firms, Rancho Bernardo is becoming one of San Diego’s fastest growing submarkets, according to Strauss. The Hilton Garden Inn is located along Interstate 15, approximately 24 miles north of Downtown San Diego.

Earlier this month, reported that the Embassy Suites Hotel in La Jolla sold for $100 million to hotel REIT Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc., and the 68-room StayBridge Suites Hotel in Downtown San Diego was sold to Trendwest Resorts Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

The StayBridge Suites Hotel opened in 2004 and was sold by an affiliate of Shapery Enterprises. Shapery will maintain a presence Downtown, with plans to build a 40-story high rise condominium on what is now the hotel’s parking lot. Once complete, the two properties will share parking and amenities.

According to a 2006 hospitality report released by Marcus & Millichap, the San Diego market had among the highest average daily rates in California, at approximately $125 per day. Occupancy is forecast to increase 100 basis points this year to 73.3%, and more than 1,300 new rooms are expected to be added to the market in 2006.

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