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.

London sees a number of changes take place over the last few months; Queensgate purchases the large Grange Hotels for a tidy £1bn, The Arch is sold and set to become The Prince Akatoki and the Barclay brothers pick up The Beaumont. Elsewhere robots are on the scene at a future hotel in China. Explore these stories and more below.

Hotel Properties’ (HPL) Associated Firm Buys Castello del Nero Tuscany for €39.5m

Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) have announced said that its associated company plans to buy for an estimated 22.6 million euros (S$35.4 million) the freehold interest of a 740-acre site in Tuscany, Italy that is occupied by a five-star hotel and a fully consecrated chapel.

The purchase of the site was made through buying up the entire corporate capital and voting rights of Castello del Nero, a company incorporated in Italy. This was done via a wholly owned unit of Leisure Ventures, in turn an associated company of HPL.

HPL/Como are a serious player with 35 hotels and this adds nicely with Castello. THPT are proud to have been involved with the marketing of this property. Forbes report that Ong Beng Seng and his wife Christina Ong as being 16th richest people in Singapore. They also own the Mulberry handbag-maker in London. At 73 Mr Ong Beng Seng shows no sign of slowing down.

Queensgate Buys four Main Grange Hotels in London for £1bn

The Matharu Brothers, who have built up Grange hotels from humble beginnings with The Adelphi Hotel on Cromwell Road, London Kensington. The brothers – Harpal, Raj and Tony – and are all approaching retirement age. A sale of the four hotels could allow one or more of the brothers to exit the business.

The Grange brand covers 17 properties with all but one of them in London (Bracknell). The portfolio is made up of the 433-bedroom Grange St Paul’s, EC4; the 370-bedroom Grange Tower Bridge, E1; the 307-bedroom Grange City Hotel on Cooper’s Row, EC3 (pictured left); and the 207-bedroom Grange Holborn.

Great move for both parties…the word was whether they would sell the smaller hotels, but clearly the bigger ones have the attraction for someone like Queensgate. A good price per key for Grange.

Barclay Brothers Land The Beaumont, London

Amongst much competition over the past few months, Grosvenor Estates finally selected The Barclay brothers, via their Ellerman Hotel Company vehicle. The brothers own The Ritz London, newspapers like the UK’s Daily Telegraph, whole islands like Brecqhou, off Sark in the Channel Islands and much else! Previously they owned The Cavendish Hotel, which they sold to Ascott, and The Howard hotel, both in London

Its thought to be around £130m so £1,780,822 per key and GM James Soerensen, who joined the hotel in 2016, has stressed that it will be “business as usual”.

It was widely thought that Minor Hotels, who have a small stake in Cobin & King, would secure the hotel, but we guess they got outbid. At £1.8m it is almost in the trophy hotel price-range.

London’s The Arch Sold to Japan’s StayWell Holdings

AB Hotels – owned by father & son team, Abraham and Rafi Bejerano, opened in 2010. Their chairman was the iconic Willy Bauer, until 2016, who was known as the man that bought The Savoy back to its past glory, during his eight year tenure in the 1980s. AB also own Sopwell House in St Albans and the Crowne Plaza Resort in Colchester, Essex and despite having no intention to sell, were approach and the rest was history.

StayWell Holdings, a subsidiary of Prince Hotels Inc. a hotel and leisure company in Japan, headed up by Simon Wan plan repositioned the hotel as ‘The Prince Akatoki’ and extensively refurbish before being unveiling next year. There is a strong focus on ‘Japanese culture and hospitality’ planned.

This is StayWell’s 2nd UK hotel, with the four-star, 253 room Park Regis in Birmingham. I think we’ll see more in Europe in the next few years.

Alibaba Group Unveils its First ‘Future Hotel’

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has unveiled its first “future hotel,” also known as “Flyzoo Hotel,” in Hangzhou, China. The unmanned hotel marks the company’s entrance into the Internet of Things sector.

The hotel’s operation relies on smart interactive technologies, particularly facial recognition. A one-metre high robot serves as a receptionist, remembering guests by using facial recognition technology. The hotel also uploads guest details to the country’s national public security system via a machine located in the lobby. FlyZoo still employs humans—to run housekeeping.

Robots can be found everywhere in the hotel, and they guide guests by providing recorded voice messages and accompanying them during their stay. Guests also can control indoor temperatures, lighting intensity, household appliances through their voices.

This puts paid to the argument, “AI/Robots can never replace half the functions in a hotel….” whether efficiency beats the enigmatic, welcoming smile of the receptionist/door-person after a long tiring journey is yet to be seen…