PATRIOT AMERICAN RESTRUCTURES In an attempt to pay off its debts, Patriot American Hospitality Inc. has merged into its operating arm, Wyndham International Inc., and changed from a real estate investment trust (REIT) into a tax-paying corporation in March. Patriot founder Paul Nussbaum stepped down as CEO, handing control to Wyndham International CEO James Carreker.

Since its formation in 1991, the Dallas-based trust has become owner or manager of 460 luxury hotels in North America, the Caribbean, Britain, Italy, and France. As a REIT, Patriot had to pay out 95 percent of its net income as dividends; as a tax-paying corporation, profits from Patriot properties are retained by Wyndham, which will save some $125 million annually before taxes.

Patriot, which was the country's second largest REIT, took on significant debt in the past two years by acquiring Interstate Hotels Co., Summerfield Hotel Corp., and Wyndham Hotel Corp. Since the January 1998 deal with Wyndham, more than a dozen Patriot properties were converted to the Wyndham brand, including The Buttes resort in Tempe, Ariz., El Conquistador Resort and Country Club in Puerto Rico, the Peachtree Conference Center in Atlanta, and the Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa in Walt Disney World.