HVS EMEA Hospitality Enews - Week Ending 28 September 2007

The latest hospitality news from Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Whitbread Slices Up The Tulips

Whitbread has acquired Golden Tulip (UK) and an associated company Pilot Hotels. For its £44 million, Whitbread gets five hotels in the UK and one in the Republic of Ireland (a total of 770 rooms) that operate under either the Tulip Inn or the Golden Tulip brand (the Tulip Inn Manchester, being under separate ownership, is not involved in the deal) and nine sites in the UK that will supply another 1,300 rooms as they come into operation over the next two years. Whitbread is to spend £9 million converting all 15 of the leasehold hotels into Premier Inn properties. As a result, the brand will make its debut in the Republic of Ireland (at Dublin airport), a country that Whitbread wants to explore further. Golden Tulip Hospitality will fill the void by spending an initial £50 million on acquisitions; the company wants to develop 20 Tulip Inns and ten Golden Tulip hotels in the UK over the next five years.

Hilton Garden Inn And Hampton Court Russia

Rostick is the Russian glue holding together a sandwich formed from Immo Industry Group, of Belgium, and the Jersey-based Belgravia Financial Services Group. The joint venture company thus formed ImmoRosIndustry, which Belgravia is financing to the tune of US$2 billion initially, is to develop industrial real estate projects across Russia and the CIS. Each development will have either a Hampton by Hilton hotel or a Hilton Garden Inn under an agreement to be signed by Belgravia and Hilton Hotels Corporation. Hilton wants to have 25 such hotels (a total of 3,000 rooms) in Russia over the next five years. The first property that is expected to open (in the second quarter of 2008) is a Hampton by Hilton hotel in St Petersburg. The Belgravia/Hilton arrangement opens the door too to markets in central Europe and elsewhere in eastern Europe.

If At First You Don't Succeed…Try Oslo Properties

The logo of Norwegian Property is likely to be the picture accompanying the words “If at first you don’t succeed…” in any new edition of A Hotelier’s Treasury of Illustrated Proverbs. At the end of August the company put in an offer of NKr82.5 (approximately €10.4) for each share in its compatriot Norgani Hotels, only to be shunned in favour of Aberdeen Property Investors, as it trumped that bid with an offer of NKr88.5 (€11.2). But Norwegian Property refused to be defeated, despite seeing Aberdeen’s offer being recommended to shareholders. It set to work, acquiring a stake of 18% in Oslo Properties, which on 14 September already held 13.2% of Norgani’s shares. Oslo Properties put in an offer of NKr94 (€12.1) a share and saw this offer accepted. Oslo Properties expects to complete next month the takeover of the fifth-largest hotel property investor in Europe.

Jumeirah Makes A Trip To Majorca

Jumeirah, the hospitality company from Dubai, will have its first European resort and spa development when the Jumeirah Port Soller opens in early 2010. The company has taken a long-term lease on the 120-room, five-star resort from the owner, the German open-ended property fund WestInvest InterSelect. The resort in Port de Sóller, on the island of Majorca, is being developed by WingField Corporation, which has its headquarters in Brussels.

Kingdom Holding Company Refinances The George V

Kingdom Holding Company, the Saudi Arabian firm chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has refinanced one of the world’s most renowned luxury hotels: the 245-room Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. The company made proceeds of SR285 million (US$76.2 million) as part of its strategy to extract value from its hotel portfolio. Prince Alwaleed purchased the hotel in 1996 for US$178 million and reopened it in December 1999 after a two-year renovation that cost US$125 million.

Luxury In A Mauritian Balaclava

The Luxury Collection brand had not been to Mauritius before, so Starwood Hotels & Resorts invited it over to the island to meet its friends and sign a long-term management agreement. Those friends are BK Trading and Hakam Masani, who control not only Sagar Hotels & Resorts (the owner of Starwood’s other property in Mauritius, the Le Meridien Hotel Ile Maurice) but also Blue Ocean Park, the second signatory to that management agreement, which covers The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa. This 193-room property is set to open in the first half of 2008 in Balaclava, on the island’s northwest coast.

Auf Wiedersehen Arabella

Four is the number of Westin hotels in Germany now that The Westin Grand Frankfurt has officially joined the gang. It was goodbye to the ArabellaSheraton Grand Hotel, which put on its new face after extensive renovation work. The 371-room, five-star hotel remains in the ownership of Schörghuber Corporate Group through its wholly owned subsidiary Arabella Hotel Holding International.

Dusit Ties Up A First Hotel In Egypt

Dusit Hotels & Resorts, of Thailand, is to leave its first impression upon the sands of Egypt. The company has signed an agreement with United Company for Tourism & Real Estate Development that will bring the 203-room Dusit Thani LakeView Cairo to the LakeView development in the New Cairo district. The first two phases in the opening of the resort complex will see the arrival of the hotel in June 2008 and a set of 106 serviced apartments in December 2008.

Journey To Al Reem Island; Mövenpick Arrives In Marina

The mixed-use Marina Square, which is scheduled to open in 2009, will be the first part of the Al Reem Island development to become operational. Expect to see Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts at the ribbon-cutting ceremony; the company has signed an agreement with Tamouh Investments, one of the companies behind the island development off the coast of Abu Dhabi, to manage the 445-room, five-star Mövenpick Hotel Al Reem. Celebrate the arrival of this new property by cheering in the lift as it transports you from the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, in Jordan, to the edge of the briny waters. The lift is part of the remodelling work that has added 24 rooms and suites to the five-star property, raising the room count to 358.

D4 Takes On Three In Dublin 4

The former Jurys Ballsbridge, The Berkeley Court and The Towers are set to reopen with new identities and under new management two years after Jurys Doyle Hotel Group sold the site in Dublin which the properties occupy. The renamed Ballsbridge Court, Ballsbridge Towers and Ballsbridge Inn, which share a total of some 600 rooms, will be operated by D4 Hotels, which is headed by John Brennan. The site is owned by Séan Dunne, whose company Padholme bought it for €260 million in October 2005. Meanwhile, the Jurys Inn brand is looking to make further inroads into the UK market; plans have been drawn up for a 226-room hotel in Derby and a 170-room hotel in Exeter. Both properties could be open in 2009.

Barrett's G Plan

Gerry Barrett, the head of Irish property developer and investor Edward Holdings, is reportedly interested in finding new spots for the G Hotel concept. A 103-room example of the concept has been open in Galway since November 2005 and it is thought that Barrett might introduce the G brand at Bow Street magistrates’ court in London. Edward Holdings acquired the building in 2005 and has plans to convert it into a luxury hotel. A G Hotel might also be opened in Dublin. One might well say “gee” when one hears the news that Edward Holdings has also completed the purchase of Ashford Castle, the 85-room, five-star hotel in Cong, Co. Mayo, for a reported €50 million. The new owners are expected to move in in March.

Tradewinds Breezes Into Bosnia

TCB Wakil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tradewinds Corporation, an investment holding company from Malaysia, has completed its acquisition of a stake of 99.71% in MHTTP Bristol for US$4.5 million. The stake was put up for sale in April by the Bosnian government. TCB Wakil is to invest an additional US$15.8 million in completing work started by Grand Hotel Bristol on a hotel in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Tradewinds’ hotel and resort subsidiary currently has ten hotels in Malaysia and one in Vietnam.

Events This New Year's Day In Östersund

Choice Hotels Scandinavia will relieve Pandox of the operation of the Radisson SAS Hotel, Östersund on 1 January 2008 after the two companies signed a revenue-based lease agreement. The 176-room hotel in the city of Östersund, in central Sweden, will remain under Pandox’s ownership and will take the Clarion brand. Elsewhere in the country, NCC Construction Sweden has attracted Elite Hotels and RBS Nordisk Renting to its Saltsjöqvarn mill building in Nacka, on the outskirts of Stockholm. The property is to be transformed into a 187-room hotel in work that should be finished by February 2010.

For Park Inn, Five Years Equals One Century

Five years on from signing up its first Park Inn property, Rezidor Hotel Group has made it to number 100 in a territory conquered by the brand comparatively recently: Scotland. The Park Inn Aberdeen, on the country’s northeast coast, will have 184 rooms and is due to open in summer 2009. A few months before that the city of Aberdeen will be welcoming a boutique hotel to its midst. Bancon Developments, which submitted its proposals earlier this year, has had its plans to build a 100-room hotel on the site of a former bowling alley officially approved.

The Real Hotel Company Reports Its Interim Figures

The Real Hotel Company, which owns, leases and manages a combined total of 65 hotels in the UK, France, Belgium and Germany, has reported its results for the six months to 30 June 2007. The figures show that the operating loss of £1.4 million recorded in the comparable period of a year ago narrowed to £0.6 million and that turnover increased by 8.1%, to £38.7 million. Like-for-like RevPAR across the company’s hotels in the UK rose by 6.5%, to finish on £25.26. Two more hotels of the Sleep Inn marque will be joining that portfolio before the year is out. One property in each of Glasgow and the town of Braintree, in Essex, will take the total number of Sleep Inn hotels in the UK to 11.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 20-27 September 2007

Whitbread - Renewed bid speculation circulated the markets.

Accor - Late last week Oddo Securities lowered its rating from 'Buy' to 'Add' and cut its target price from €77 to €70 on reported gloomy prospects for 2008 coming from the US market.

NH Hoteles - The share price fell as investors locked in profits.

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Adrian Jones, EMEA Hospitality Enews Authorajones@hvs.com