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.

Limak are investing US$600 in tourism projects following their journey from construction to managing airports, we ask if the new Travelodge Plus format is a bit too risky and look at how some hotels are now offering full-service hospitals to appeal to certain markets. Explore these stories and more below.

Turkey’s Limak to Invest US $600m in Tourism Projects

Limak’s tourism division is to invest around US$300 million in building two hotels in southern Turkey’s Mersin and 250 million euros ($292 million) in a complex in Macedonia’s Skopje. The construction-to-energy conglomerate has also started operating a new hotel in Turkish Northern Cyprus.

It’s interesting that Limak have gone from construction to managing airports, which is akin to hospitality. Its an almost end to end process where the next stage is to build hotels, so they are on the right track.

It’s interesting to look at Arora Hotels in the UK, who more or less established their whole company on hotels at airports and now taking on the Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly the BAA). They have suggested they would build the new runway at Heathrow more effectively than the airport company BAA – and they may probably right!

Indian Budget Brand Ginger Hotels to Sell and Leaseback Six Hotels

Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) – Taj, parent company of budget hotel chain, Ginger Hotels, have appointed Howarth HTL Corporate to sell the properties. Established in 2003, Ginger Hotels feature a collection of over 45 hotels across more than 30 locations in India. The move is seen aligned with the ‘Aspiration 2022’ strategy unveiled by its parent, IHCL, to become less ownership driven.

Puneet Chhatwal, who joined Taj as CEO, from Steigenberger and prior to that Radisson, is clearly making strides forward to re-shape the different parts of IHCL/Taj and the move to become less dependent on the luxury segment is intriguing. For incoming tourist business, at the up-scale end, the traditional five-star hotel market is already buoyant and will continue to prosper

The same is taking place for top-end business travel and what we are now seeing is the provision of good, clean budget hotels for the emerging middle class (domestic) business traveller and the back-packer leisure traveller looking for an alternative to dossing-down. It’s exactly as we saw ten years ago with the emergence of the budget hotel brands in UK/Europe with the likes of Premier Inn, Travelodge, Ibis, HI Express etc. Budget hotels increase the number of room nights used in hotels whereas the luxury chains just mix up which company get the room nights!

Going asset-light again is just emulating the global trend. Interestingly Indian hotels owners in the UK don’t get asset-light. They like to have both ends – good operating profits as well as the rise in asset value – Take Grange Hotels for example, there are rumours of the owners selling the company for £1.3bn, probably less than 50% of what it cost to buy and build, whilst having made great operating profits over the past 30 years.

Incoming tourism to India is also still in it’s infancy – just 8.8m foreign tourist arrivals in 2017, albeit a 9.7% growth over previous year. The UK enjoys 40m!

Tharaldson Hospitality Management Opens New TownePlace Suites in Austin, Texas

Tharaldson Hospitality Management of Decatur, Illinois, who will also manage the hotel, under franchise. The TownePlace Suites is now open for business. Tharaldson, headed up by Gary Tharaldson, started with a single hotel purchase in 1982 and now has 40 hotels in 14 US States, with a further eight in the pipeline, and has had 350 hotels through their hands during this time, under the Marriott, Hilton & Hyatt brands.

Marriott started the extended stay product with their Residence Inn brand. TownePlace has over 300 properties across United States and Canada so the question we ask is, when might we see the brand expand into Europe and Asia?

Four Seasons Residences Winning in Punta Mita, Mexico

DINE, the Mexican real estate developer and owner of Punta Mita has sold out of all 54 of its Four Seasons Private Villas and ten Four Seasons Private Residences. The Company focuses on the construction and promotion of residential and touristic properties, as well as development of large-scale corporate and commercial spaces. This milestone marks more than $171 million in sales.

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, along with The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, is a partner in the Punta Mita master-planned community, a luxury resort destination which now includes 15 exclusive and unique luxury residential developments including home sites, villas condominiums and townhouses; three beach clubs with full service and food; two Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses; recreational trails, surfing, sailing, fishing and aquatic adventures and a brand new full-service hospital.

It’s interesting that they are including a hospital in addition to golf, pools, bars and beach clubs. If you want to appeal to a certain age-group give them exactly what they want. In this case the elderly and retired market who are more likely to need hospitals and medical facilities.

Here in the UK, THPT are working with a client to provide budget/mid-range hotels on NHS hospital sites to alleviate bed-blocking from elderly/low medical-requirement patients and visiting families and friends of patients, whilst still serving the local community.

New Travelodge Plus Format Launched

Six locations including Travelodge London City, which opened this July (and is the group’s largest ever new-build property), London Waterloo, Edinburgh Central, York Micklegate, Gatwick Airport and Brighton Seafront.

The revamped format features enhanced “budget chic rooms” and a new bar café design with counter seating offering built in USB and laptop power, “more intimate booths and dining benches for groups”, and a new “statement bar”.

Commenting on the launch Peter Gowers, Travelodge CEO said: “Britain is now a nation of budget travellers, with more of us choosing to stay in budget hotels than any other hotel type.

The launch of Travelodge Plus helps us offer that little bit more choice for those who want it, while staying true to our mission to be the favourite hotel for value.”

They promote a ‘Tranquility Zen’ colour scheme with tones of “warm taupe, serenity beige and light white” which is likely to look good but is just a bit over the top.

My grandfather told me that budget hotels’ undoing will be “amenity creep” – don’t keep adding cost to the guest offering, that allowed you to be “budget” in the first place.

One needs to temper that with his other saying, the minimum that one expects in a hotel is the standards set in one’s own home; power showers, good lighting, ambient temperature, comfortable bed, light black-out, quiet, wi-fi etc.