Sternlicht sees housing recovery, but trouble for tourism industry: VIDEO

July 20, 2012 03:00PM

The numbers say it, the headlines say it, and now Starwood Capital CEO Barry Sternlicht, the man building five hotels in New York City, says it, too: the housing recovery is real. But in an appearance yesterday on CNBC, the private equity mogul and former head of Starwood Hotels also voiced concern for the future of the United States travel industry (see video above).

“You can’t get a hotel room [in the city], but you also can’t get a visa to get into this country,” Sternlicht said. “People want to come here but we’re losing marketshare in travel and travel is a great business because the average American who doesn’t have the skillset to work at Yahoo! or Google can work in a hotel.”

Of course, Sternlicht is in the process of building a hotel on Brooklyn Bridge Park, a Baccarat Hotel at the old Donnell Library site in Midtown, and hotels at 1414 Sixth Avenue and 237 West 54th Street among others.

At least America will benefit from the jobs that come from the housing recovery, Sternlicht said. But he was careful not to credit politicians for the improvement. Sternlicht also said he, along with many investors, is trying to capitalize on demand for single-family rentals.

“With interest rates where they are the downside [of renting single-family homes] is modest. The upside is unknown,” he said. “You will get better-than-Treasury returns. What you will make ultimately will depend on how much confidence people have in the housing market.”