HVS EMEA Hospitality Enews - Week Ending 19 October 2007

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

JER Partners Buys Morethanhotels (Yes, It Gets Two Sites As Well)

JER Partners has completed its purchase of Morethanhotels. The US private equity firm is reported to have paid around £115 million for a company that owns and operates 11 hotels (1,270 rooms) across England under the Express by Holiday Inn franchise. Morethanhotels also has two sites under development near the NEC in Birmingham that will add around 180 rooms to the portfolio. JER is interested in making further investment in the budget hotel sector in the UK over the next three to five years.

Marriott's Nordic Pursuits

Here’s something to cheer up those long winter nights in Scandinavia: news that Marriott International is to introduce its Renaissance, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott, and Courtyard by Marriott brands into Norway, Sweden and Finland. The company has signed a franchise agreement with Scandinavian Hospitality Group that will result in the opening of a total of 15 hotels across those three countries over the next six years. The Courtyard by Marriott brand will be the first to make its presence felt; in 2009 a 272-room hotel will open in the Kungsholmen district of Stockholm and a 155-room hotel will arrive at the airport in Kristiansund, on Norway’s western coast. Courtyard by Marriott is a busy brand: it has been back for a third visit to the Czech Republic. A 195-room hotel in the city of Plzeň comes about thanks to a management agreement signed with ECM Hotel Operations Plzeň.

Scandic Reinforces Its Presence In Stockholm

Seventeen…no, wait…that’s now 18 properties in Stockholm for Scandic Hotels. The Swedish company has teamed up with its next-door neighbour Öyer Invest, a property company from Norway, to build a hotel in Kista, in the suburbs of the Swedish capital. Construction work on the 400-room property is set to begin next spring, with the hotel due to open in autumn 2009. If you can’t wait that long, then there is always the Scandic at Norra Bantorget to enjoy – and the opening of this 181-room hotel is less than a month away. The property is the former Best Western Wallin Hotel and is owned by Stockholm City Conference Centre.

Raffles Cracks France

The Raffles brand will be seen in France for the first time from winter 2008 after Raffles Hotels & Resorts signed an agreement with the company Royal Monceau to manage the Le Royal Monceau in Paris. The historic 152-room hotel, which is owned jointly by French entrepreneur Alexandre Allard (the president of Royal Monceau) and the Qatari firm Barwa Real Estate, is to spend 2008 making itself look lovely for its new manager. Luxury abounds in southwestern France too, where, after consultation with FIB, the owner of the Grand Hotel in Bordeaux, Rezidor Hotel Group has had a change of heart and has decided to open the 150-room hotel under the Regent rather than the Radisson SAS brand.

Golden Tulip Hospitality Has Plans For Belgium

Golden Tulip Hospitality has given a soft opening to the 170-room Golden Tulip Antwerp Centre and a promise that Belgium and neighbouring Luxembourg will see more of its hotels before 2012. The company has five hotels in Belgium, three of them in the city of Antwerp, and wants to build at least another ten over the next five years in cities including Bruges, Ghent, Ostend and Louvain. Luxembourg has so far mustered but one hotel: the Golden Tulip Hotel Central Molitor.

Millennium (UAE) & Copthorne (Russia)

Millennium & Copthorne (M&C) is to manage its first hotel in the emirate of Ras al Khaimah. The company has signed an agreement with real estate developer RAK Properties on the Millennium Mina Al Arab Resort, one of the many hotels that are to be built at RAK's Mina Al Arab waterfront development. M&C is set to have a first hotel to manage in Russia too. The company's Singaporean owner City Developments has formed a US$125 million joint venture with Golden Orchard Hotels, having taken a 50% stake in Soft Proekt, the owner of the four-star Iris Congress Hotel and a set of serviced apartments on the outskirts of Moscow. The hotel of more than 200 rooms is likely to take the Copthorne brand. The joint venture plans to build a mixed-use complex, including business and conference facilities, on vacant land next to the hotel.

Banyan Tree By The Pool And At The Races

Keep your Banyan Tree well watered and it will flourish even in the driest of climates. That might be why Meydan has chosen to place the 60 villas of the Banyan Tree Meydan around a swimming pool, creating in the process the first resort in Dubai to have all of its villas thus located. Then it’s off with the goggles and on with the binoculars to continue the Banyan Tree experience at the nearby racecourse, where the company is to operate The Meydan hotel. All of the five-star property’s suites overlook the course from the grandstand.

Principal Purchases

The Times reports that Principal Hayley Group expects by the end of next month to have completed the purchase of three hotels in England operated by Marriott International. Principal Hayley, which recently changed its name from Principal Hotels after its purchase of Hayley Conference Centres in May, is set to pay a total of a reported £50 million for the 180-room Renaissance Solihull Hotel, on the outskirts of Birmingham, the 157-room Renaissance Derby Nottingham Hotel and the 114-room Sheffield Marriott Hotel. The three properties, which are to be rebranded after the deal completes, are part of a package of five (the others being the Grantham Marriott Hotel and the Inverness Marriott Hotel) put up for sale in May by Quinlan Private and its joint venture partner Igal Ahouvi Group. The five hotels are in turn drawn from the collection of 47 Marriott-operated hotels in the UK that the joint venture acquired in April from Royal Bank of Scotland for around £1.1 billion.

Warimpex Grasps Andel's In Poland

Warimpex, the real estate investor and developer from Austria, has paid an undisclosed sum for a plot of land in the city of Poznań, in western Poland. The land comes complete with permission to build a four-star hotel, so the company will waste little time in getting to work on the construction of a 240-room property with the Andel's brand. This hotel, which is set to open in the second quarter of 2009, will, like its stablemates in Prague and the Polish city of Cracow, come under the management of Vienna International Hotels and Resorts. Elsewhere in eastern Europe, the Corinthia Aquincum Hotel in Budapest has changed its name to Ramada Plaza Budapest. Corinthia Hotels International will continue to operate the 310-room property in the Hungarian capital. Corinthia Group and Wyndham Hotel Group agreed last year that 15 hotels in Europe and Africa owned by Corinthia would take either the Ramada Plaza or the Wyndham brand.

KSL Capital Partners Looks To Invest In Europe

KSL Capital Partners is a private equity firm from Denver that has invested in a range of leisure and travel businesses in its native North America. A company that is doing very well over there is looking to be equally successful over here, in the form of KSL Capital Partners International. From its base in London the new company will invest in Europe and beyond under the stewardship of Adrian Constant, a former Vice President (Europe) at Orient-Express Hotels.

Manchester Derby

When you are destined to be just shy of 100 metres in height and stand in the city of Manchester, adopting an unusual name is unlikely to mask your presence. So a 24-storey building that is to be built near the Spinningfields mixed-use development will call itself simply The Manchester. Work on the property, which will have a 200-room, five-star hotel on its first 12 floors and 200 apartments in its upper half, is set to begin next year and take until early 2010 to complete. Equally explicit is the company name Derby Riverlights: it gives us the names of another English city and a development therein. (And those wondering where the city of Riverlights is ought really to hide their shame behind an atlas.) The company is to add a 110-room Holiday Inn to its mixed-use scheme, the construction of which is scheduled to start in January.

Fresh Bouquets For Roberts (No Tulips)

Peter Roberts' hotel management company Countrywide Leisure Management held the master franchise on the Golden Tulip and Tulip Inn brands in the UK until the launch of Golden Tulip UK (GTUK) in 2002, when it passed the baton on. Roberts was appointed managing director of GTUK, which had cultivated six hotels and had another nine under development before Whitbread came calling last month and bought up the business for £44 million. GTUK's franchise agreement was thus extinguished but Peter Roberts was not put out. He now burns brightly at the head of Countrywide Hotel Acquisitions, which will do for Whitbread much as it did for GTUK: seek out sites and hotels, but for the Premier Inn brand this time around.

Whitbread High On Strong Coffee

Hot Costa coffee and the ever perky Premier Inn hotels will have kept shareholders in Whitbread buzzing throughout their perusal of the company's figures for the six months to 30 August 2007. Costa saw its revenue grow by 21.1% on the previous year's comparable, to £98.1 million. Premier Inn returned revenue of £264.1 million: an increase of 14.4%. Whitbread's total revenue came to £590.2 million, an increase of 10.8%. The company made a pre-tax profit before exceptionals of £99.4 million, up 13.3% on the previous year's comparable.

Three-Quarters Gone And Accor Is Doing Fine

Revenue of €6.1 billion for the first nine months of 2007 was 8.5% more than Accor made in the first three quarters of 2006. The company's hotels contributed around €4.4 billion to the total, an increase of 8.4% on the 2006 comparable, with properties in the midscale and upscale sectors combined providing slightly under half (approximately €2.5 billion) of that amount. RevPAR among midscale and upscale properties in Europe of €69 was an improvement of 8.3%. In the RevPAR contest in the economy sector, hotels in Europe saw off their rivals in percentage terms: Europe up 5.7% (to €41), the USA 2.2% (US$32).

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 11-18 October 2007

Whitbread - Prices on the London market fell earlier in the week. Whitbread recouped early losses thanks to positive broker comment. Goldman Sachs, for example, raised its rating from 'Neutral' to 'Buy' and its target price from 1,184p to 1,984p.

InterContinental Hotels Group - Lehman Brothers initiated its coverage with an 'Overweight' rating and a target price of 1,350p.

Accor - The Paris markets were lower as oil prices rose. Jefferies International reiterated its 'Buy' rating and gave a target price of €83.

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