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) -- Shares of

Sonesta International Hotels

( SNSTA) soared 7.5% Monday after the hotelier said Friday it returned to year-over-year profitability on an uptick in group and convention bookings.

Sonesta booked quarterly profits of $657,000, or 18 cents per share, a staggering improvement compared with year-earlier losses of $109 million, or 3 cents per share.

Sonesta, which operates hotels near Boston and New Orleans, and in international destinations ranging from Egypt and Costa Rica to Brazil and Peru, said an uptick in group and convention bookings helped it grow quarterly revenue 16.5%, to $20.5 million.

Results were particularly strong at Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston and Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans. Improved demand, particularly from the group and convention market segments, contributed to higher revenue as business and corporate bookings picked up.

Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston generated 13% more revenue in the first half of 2010 due to a 17% jump in revenue per available room, or revPAR, a key metric of the hotel industry. Average daily room rates were flat year-over-year, but occupancy at the Boston location increased by 10%, thanks in part to a 23% jump in group bookings.

Revenue also improved by 13% at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans where revPAR grew by 14%. Occupancy improved by 9% in the first six months of 2010, while the average daily rate edged up 1%.

Sonesta shares gained 7.5% to close at $14.50 Monday. Elsewhere in the small-cap hotel sector, shares of

InterContinental Hotels Group

(IHG) - Get Intercontinental Hotels Group American Depositary Shares (Each representing one) Report

edged 0.2% lower, a week after the operator of InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels increased its dividend by 5% to 12.8 cents per share.

>>InterContinental Dips Despite Profitability

Shares of

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-- Reported by Miriam Marcus Reimer from New York.


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