Westin hotel at DIA evaded Denver officials’ attempts to dig into its operations and finances, audit says

The Denver Post: City auditors came up short in their attempts to dig into the finances and operations of Denver International Airport’s on-site hotel because of resistance from the operator, according to a new report out Thursday.

The publicly owned facility was part of a $720 million project that also constructed a transit center beneath the Westin-branded hotel as the terminus of a commuter rail line from downtown Denver. Hotel profits above a certain threshold are supposed to go to DIA to help repay project bonds — a milestone that the 519-room hotel hasn’t yet passed, despite better-than-projected revenue each year since its November 2015 opening.

“This is a transparency and accountability issue,” Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien said in a statement. “If we could not get the documents needed for the audit in a timely manner, how could the airport be doing regular monitoring on its own to assure the proper care and management of the hotel?”

The new audit report says auditors ran into a significant hurdle in trying to assess not only the Westin’s balance sheet but how the hotel is run: DIA’s contract with Marriott International, which owns the Westin brand, contradicts the city charter by restricting the city’s ability to perform a full public audit. It allows Westin to guard proprietary information.

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