Orange County's third-largest hotel, the Anaheim Marriott, has been sold to a group of Japanese companies for about $65 million.
Selling was Equitable Real Estate Investment Management Inc., the largest real estate investment company in the United States and an arm of the huge Equitable life insurance and financial services company.
Buying the hotel was what Equitable described as a group of major Japanese financial institutions, mostly life insurance companies.
The hotel was one of 15 buildings around the country offered as a package to Japanese investors by Equitable's new Tokyo office. Total price: $258 million.
It was Equitable's first such major deal with the Japanese, said Jim Carlson, a senior vice president in Irvine for Equitable Real Estate.
The Anaheim Marriott is doing well, Carlson said, and was included to balance the package of buildings geographically. It was the only hotel included; most of the rest of the buildings were offices, Carlson said.
This was the first major hotel in the county to be bought by the Japanese. Marriott will continue to operate the hotel, which opened in 1981 and was expanded in 1983.
Construction of hotels in Orange County has far outpaced demand for rooms. But Anaheim does better than much of the rest of the county because it attracts a large number of business people to the Anaheim Convention Center as well as tourists to Disneyland. The occupancy rate of Orange County hotels is expected to improve as the recent wave of hotel construction tapers off.
The Marriott sale is just one example of increased Japanese investment in Orange County real estate as foreign investors move from major U.S. cities into the suburbs in search of offices and hotels to buy.
"In buying property here, we run into Japanese investors all the time," Carlson said.
The Anaheim Marriott, with 1,042 rooms, is smaller than only the Anaheim Hilton and Towers and the Disneyland Hotel, also in Anaheim.
Disneyland Hotel could soon be on the block itself, since Disney says selling it will be one of the company's options early next year when it acquires the hotel's owner, Wrather Corp. in Beverly Hills.
Disney will continue to manage the hotel under a 25-year contract.
A spokesman said Friday that Disney had not yet made a decision on whether to sell the hotel.