Recent hotel deals and news – The Hotel Property Team

Dev Anand, Managing Partner of The Hotel Property Team (THPT) explores the latest hotel sales and acquisitions and applies his 30 years of experience on current global developments.

The historic Adelphi has opened it's doors again after an extended renovation closure and is a welcome re-addition to the NY scene. Elsewhere we see more properties in the pipeline in Saudi Arabia and ask questions on what impact this will have on Dubai in the coming years. Westin is set to make its debut in London and we witness, for perhaps the first time, a planned hotel closure two years in advance. Explore this and more below.

New Radisson Blue Hotel in Al Ahsa, Saudi Arabia

Located 60km inland from the coast of the Arabian Gulf the hotel will be just 14km southwest of Al Ahsa Airport which welcomes weekly international flights. The area, according to the Guinness World Records, has the world’s largest self-contained oasis and as part of the KSA Vision 2030, the country plans to sustain tourism growth by investing in numerous entertainment projects in the region.

The Radisson Hotel Group has 40 hotels and more than 10,000 rooms in operation and under development across the Kingdom. This new hotel will be their twelfth in the Eastern Province. It is interesting that they are developing outside of the mainstream cities and adds to the school of thought that Saudi may well take over from the UAE as the place for expats to reside and visit in years to come.

Whilst we have no factual evidence for this, various operators in the UAE argue that after the Expo 2020, the tax being introduced for expats combined with the huge property growth/prices in Dubai may mean the eventual ‘upset of the apple-cart’. One can see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman preparing for Saudi to take over the power base in years to come, but this is purely speculation!

The real $64,000 question is will either country accept gambling. When Caesars Palace opened, albeit non-gaming, resorts in Dubai, one wonders what do they know that we don’t?

The Saudi Future

The project pipeline in Saudi Arabia is impressive. Between 2018 and 2021 and beyond, a total of 144 new projects are slated to be built, most of them concentrated in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah. These hotels will bring an additional 56,106 new guest rooms and suites to the Middle Eastern country.

Saudi is a wealthy nation with some of the most luxurious properties in the world, so no surprise that the new hotels will be high end. 85 projects will be of a first-class standard, while the remaining 59 will be luxury. Watch this space.

Palladium Hotel Group announces new brand – ‘Bless Collection Hotels’

With the first hotel to open in November 2018 in Madrid, the group are targeting the contemporary luxury market. The appetite for expansion follows recent successes with the group’s upscale brands and expansion opportunities in target destinations. Spanish HQ Palladium are an interesting company with 48 hotels in six different countries, 14,000 rooms under nine brands, including TRS, Fiesta, Ushuaia Unexpected, Ayre, Only You plus a Hard Rock franchise. The parent company is Grupo Empresas Matures (GEM).

The interesting question is why hotels feel the need to often create new brands? I think the major chains are in distinct danger of:

  • Confusing the market (professionals as well as end-guests) as to the differentiation (or not) of their brands. Just look at Marriott with their 30 brands and the likes of Hilton, IHG, BW all have 15 odd each.
  • The overlap of their brands – which one does the millennial generation fit into for example?
  • The critical mass required for any given brands to achieve penetration and recognition – Avid, Tapestry, Curio, Aloft, Even, Hualuxe, Canopy – how many frequent travellers would know these names?

Westin Hotels & Resorts to debut in London

Opening 2020, with 200 guest rooms including 29 suites and a Presidential Suite, the hotel will be a key part of the redevelopment of the former Queensbridge House site. Highly visible from the South Bank, the hotel will also benefit from panoramic views over the River Thames and will complete the northern riverbank walkway between the Tower of London and Millennium Bridge.

4C Hotel Group is the buyer/owner and the hotel will be managed by RBH (the new name for  Redefine BDL)… for Marriott, this will be the debut for the Westin brand in the United Kingdom.

We wonder if, as we already have a W Hotel, that W is the trendy end of Westin? I think Hilton did a wise thing five/ten years ago when they recognised that they had a “HILTON” presence in the UK but consciously needed to develop DoubleTree and Hampton and other of their brands in the UK and Europe and set about doing just that.

The historic Adelphi Hotel again graces downtown Saratoga Springs, NY

Set on Broadway in the heart of downtown, the Adelphi was the last of the grand 19th century hotels still operating as a hotel, its lobby and its rooms a throwback to days when travellers didn’t necessarily expect luxury, when a quaint historicism was enough of a draw during the warmer months when the hotel was open. Closing in 2012, the new Adelphi was expected to make its debut in the spring of 2013, but the 150-year-old building wasn’t ready and surprises along the way delayed things.

Now that the hotel is open again with its location near the horse-racing track and close to New York City, we believe the hotel should thrive with close to perfect management and marketing strategies. They have a genius idea of offering a special rate for those who live within 50 miles. We once advised a hotel near Stansted, with a thriving restaurant but poor walk-in overnight business to include tent cards in the restaurants to prompt: “Having dinner – stay the night for £15” which worked a treat. The locals drank good wine at dinner and the hotel had £15 in the till otherwise for an unsold room plus same again for breakfasts in the morning. The local community also marketed the hotel to their friends and family.

Four Seasons Vancouver to close in 2020

Owner Cadillac Fairview Corp., which also owns the Pacific Centre shopping mall attached to the hotel, have announced the closure of its 30-storey hotel located in the city’s downtown core.

It’s an interesting move as often hotels don’t announce that they will close with such a long lead time – 18 months!

Now that its in the public domain it must have been agreed behind the scenes for sensible terms with the owner/freeholder. Four Seasons has the sense of knowing when to quit. A similar example in Canary Wharf, London is, what is now the Canary Riverside Plaza….. this was once a Four Seasons.  In Vancouver, with a reputation to uphold, it means guests should have faith in that they will perform till the last.

The hotel says while that location is closing, they do plan to relocate, although they will not say where. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, launched by Isadore Sharp, opened its first hotel in downtown Toronto in 1961, with a commitment to distinctive, quality service that came to include European-style concierge services and other luxuries as it opened operations around the world.

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