Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 | 2:30 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
Desert Blue resort
Four days after lodging giant Wyndham Worldwide Corp. reported a huge loss because of the economic slowdown, Wyndham's timeshare unit said Tuesday it’s suspending construction on its high-profile Desert Blue resort in Las Vegas.
The Wyndham Vacation Ownership resort near the Rio hotel-casino is planned to consist of 19 stories with 281 condominium-style units. Martin-Harris Construction Co. and its subcontractors had completed the building shell on the 14.75-acre site, which has a high profile because of its proximity to Interstate 15, the Las Vegas Strip and Flamingo Road.
"We have temporarily suspended construction," said Lisa Burby, vice president of corporate communications for Wyndham Vacation ownership. "This is a temporary situation. Desert Blue remains in our plans. It’s still a priority for us."
Wyndham Worldwide of Parsippany, N.J., one of the nation’s largest hotel companies with brands such as Days Inn, Hawthorn, Ramada and Super 8, on Friday reported a loss for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 of $1.356 billion, or $7.63 per share, because of $1.378 billion in noncash charges for restructuring and writing down the value of assets because of the recession.
Net income before the special charges for the quarter of $84 million, or 47 cents per share, was up slightly from the 2007 quarter.
"There are several special items in the fourth quarter results for 2008, including a goodwill impairment charge, restructuring costs and foreign currency conversion losses. If you remove those items, Wyndham Worldwide produced operating income growth in the fourth quarter and full year 2008. These positive operating results reflect our resilient business model and proactive efforts by the management team to reduce costs, improve productivity and grow market share,” Chief Executive Stephen Holmes said in a statement.
In Las Vegas, Wyndham is a big employer with some 1,650 Vacation Ownership workers at four resorts and in corporate offices. With the completion of Desert Blue, Wyndham had planned to have up to 2,400 units in Las Vegas associated with its portfolio of products. The company trimmed its local workforce by about 115 jobs in late 2008 as it downsized in response to the economic slowdown.
Burby stressed that the suspension of work on Desert Blue is temporary, but said there is no forecast on when work would resume or be completed. The original completion date had been announced as early 2010.
She said Las Vegas remains an important market for the company and that there’s still demand for vacation properties.
"People are still going on vacation. People want to use their timeshares," she said. "By and large our operations in Las Vegas remain the same."
Steve Green can be reached at 990-7714 or [email protected].