Six of New Zealand's biggest resort hotels have been sold by Australia's largest hotel investor to an American business for A$115 million ($149 million).

In the largest hotel real estate sale this year, Novotel and Ibis properties in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown have changed hands.

The vendor is Australia's Tourism Asset Holdings which was listed in 1996 but privatised a few years later.

The buyer is America's Host Hotels and Resorts, which in 2005 bought a big hotel portfolio from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, under brand names including Westin, Sheraton, W, St. Regis and The Luxury Collection. Host was called Host Marriott Corporation until four years ago.

It has properties in the United States, Belgium, Britain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain and now New Zealand.

Matthew Eady, Tourism Asset's chief executive, said his business wanted to put its energies into its home country.

"TAHL's strategic preference is to focus its capital and resources within Australia," he said.

This year Tourism Asset sold the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel in Sydney to LaSalle Investment Management for A$130 million. Eady said the sale was of more than 1000 rooms at the Novotel and Ibis in Ellerslie (Auckland), the Novotel and Ibis in Wellington, the Ibis Christchurch and the Novotel Queenstown.

"The final result is an excellent outcome for TAHL shareholders.

"While we do believe the New Zealand hotel market performance will continue to improve in the medium term, TAHL's strategic preference is to focus its capital and resources within Australia given its unique hotel market dynamics," Eady said.

The Australian business has kept the Novotel and Ibis hotels in Rotorua.

Dean Humphries, national hotel director of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in Auckland, said the Host deal was a huge vote of confidence in New Zealand.

"This is a big transaction after the sale of the Hyatt in Auckland a few weeks ago. There is investment demand for good quality hotels with high occupancy, well-maintained and well-positioned."

Eady said no hotel broker was involved in the six-hotel deal.

"The hotels were held by TAHL as a mixture of leases and management agreements with Accor, but the sale structure incorporated new management agreements between Host and Accor."