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Global hotel pulse: Europe news
February 7 2012

In this month’s roundup of hotel news from Europe: Local authorities seek new revenue with hotel bed taxes; and several major chains share expansion plans for Europe and beyond.

HotelNewsNow.com each week features a news roundup from a different region of the world. Today’s review covers Europe.

Broke Europe calls for bed taxes
Hotel occupancy taxes, or “bed taxes,” might be commonplace in the United States, but they have been near nonexistent in Europe—until now,
reports HotelNewsNow.com correspondent Helena Iveson.

The economic strains in the region coupled with central government cutbacks is forcing local authorities to find new revenue streams, and many hoteliers believe tourists are being targeted to shield local residents.

“They are able to do this because the immediate victim does not vote; no politician cares about tourists. So they are presented with short-term gains to set against medium-term consequences. It is a temptation where local politicians are ill-equipped to make the right choice,” said Tom Jenkins, executive director of the European Tour Operators Association.

Europe 2011 performance
The European hotel industry posted positive results in year-over-year metrics when reported in U.S. dollars, euros and British pounds for 2011, according to
data compiled by STR Global, a sister company to HotelNewsNow.com.

The region’s occupancy ended the year with a 3.1% gain in occupancy to 66.3%. Its average daily rate was up 9.4% in U.S. dollars and 2.6% in euros. Revenue per available room was up 12.7% in dollar terms and 5.8% in euros.

Highlights from key market performers for 2011 include (year-over-year comparisons, all currency in euros):

• Venice, Italy, reported the only double-digit occupancy increase, rising 13.8% to 68.1%.
• Malmo, Sweden, fell 7%in occupancy to 59%, posting the largest decrease in that metric, followed by Istanbul with a 4% decrease to 70.1%.
• Venice reported the largest growth in ADR, rising 13.1% to EUR275.13, followed by Paris (+12.5% to EUR237.04), and Zurich (+11.7% to EUR196.78).
• Cardiff, U.K. (-8.1% to EUR64.57) and Birmingham, U.K. (-7.8% to EUR62.10) reported the largest ADR decreases for the year.
• Venice jumped 28.6% in RevPAR to EUR187.35, achieving the largest increase in that metric, followed by Florence, Italy (+15% to EUR91.95), and Paris (+14.3% to EUR187.20).
• Birmingham reported the largest RevPAR decrease for 2011, falling 7.6%to EUR42.36.

Europe pipeline
The Europe hotel development pipeline comprised 891 hotels totaling 143,484 rooms, according to the December 2011
STR Global Construction Pipeline Report.

Among the countries in the region, the U.K. ended December with the most rooms under construction, reporting 11,687 rooms. Four other countries reported a significant number of rooms under construction: Russia (8,066 rooms); Turkey (5,227 rooms); Germany (4,969 rooms); and Italy (3,129 rooms).

Spain’s hotel chains eye expansion
Executives from three of Spain’s largest hotel chains shared their expansion outlook last month during the FITUR travel trade fair in Madrid,
reports HotelNewsNow.com correspondent Benjamin Jones.

Meliá Hotels International has signed 38 new projects set to open between now and 2014, 87% of which are outside Spain, said CEO Gabriel Escarrer.

NH Hoteles, Spain’s leader in urban hotels with 400 properties in 25 countries in Europe, the Americas and Africa, is counting on between 3% and 4% growth in its markets next year, following a good 2011 with earnings up 7% and net profits of €25 million (US$32.4 million), according to company president Mariano Pérez Claver.

And Barceló Hotels & Resorts will open hotels in Hamburg, Germany; Marrakech, Morocco; and Brno, Czech Republic. An additional four hotels are scheduled in Italy through a management agreement with Aran Hotels, said Raúl González, CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Travelodge to open 41 hotels in UK to 2012
Travelodge will open 41 hotels (3,610 rooms) this year, the company announced 31 January. These new properties, at an investment of £246 million (US$388 million), will boost the company's estate to 537 hotels and over 39,000 rooms.

Eleven of the new Travelodge hotels opening this year are located in London. These 41 new hotel openings will create 880 new jobs across the country. In addition to these positions, Travelodge also is creating 120 new apprenticeship places on its successful Junior Management Programme, which was launched last year. 

Qualia, Louvre partner for Poland development
Qualia Development, a subsidiary of Poland’s largest bank PKO Bank Polski, and Louvre Hotels Group announced in January a strategic franchise partnership to develop mid and upscale hotels and service residences across Poland.  
 
With the agreement, Qualia Development will develop seven projects, representing a total of about 1,000 rooms. These establishments, that are expected to open one after another between 2012 and 2016, will be under Louvre Hotel Group’s iconic brands Golden Tulip and Royal Tulip.

Croatia makes strides to encourage development
The Croatian government’s restrictive land-use policy, which slowed overdevelopment on the country’s coast in the past, is being lifted in favor of legislative changes that allow building of mixed-use resorts in the coastal zone will be encouraging for developers,
reports Sanja Cizmar of Horwath HTL.

Select greenfield development of high-end mixed-use resorts and nautical marinas on prime locations at the Adriatic coast represent a strong area of opportunity for investors and developers. In these kinds of developments, investors should pay attention on the land use planning and land ownership issues that need to be resolved.

Feasible developments also are connected with buy out and revival of distressed hotel properties, especially those operating in state ownership. There still are some 15 hotel companies in state ownership that will be privatized in the last wave of privatization, expected in 2012. Most of these hotels are located on good locations on the Adriatic coast, thus having viable market potential.

Germany hotel investment market
Hotel transaction volume in Germany grew for the second consecutive year, according to CBRE Hotels. In 2010, transaction volume increased by more than 100% on the previous year and CBRE Hotels recorded a further 22.4% increase in 2011 to €1.1 billion (US$1.4 billion). This includes small transactions below €10 million (US$13 million) and site acquisitions. Excluding the latter, transaction volume was €950 million (US$1.2 billion), up from €800 million (US$1.0 billion) in 2010.

Deals and development
• Marriott International announced three new hotels will join its portfolio in Europe, each to feature the innovative new European design model for the upper-moderate Courtyard by Marriott brand. The hotels are: the 120-room Courtyard Le Bourget, France (2013); the 175-room Courtyard Gdynia, Poland (2014); and the 170-room Courtyard Amsterdam Atlas Park, The Netherlands (2014).
• The Rezidor Hotel Group and Al Jassim Group will open the Hotel Missoni Doha in late 2015. The unique luxury lifestyle hotel will be exclusively designed by Rosita Missoni and feature approximately 200 rooms and 70 serviced apartments.
• The Brussels, Belgium-based company also announced its debut in Qatar with the Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha. The existing Ramada Plaza Doha featuring 583 guestrooms will be converted to a Radisson Blu in the third quarter of 2012.
• Meliá Hotels International signed an agreement for its third hotel in the U.K.: the Innside Manchester Hotel. Construction will begin in the second half of the year in the new First Street North development, a major tourism development project for the City of Manchester.
• Israeli chain Leonardo Hotels has signed a long-term lease agreement with property investor IMMOFINANZ Group for its first hotel in Austria, according to HVS. A €6-million (US$7.8-million) renovation is to start this month on one of IMMOFINANZ’s existing hotels in Vienna, and it is expected to reopen in July as the 213-room Superior Leonardo Hotel Vienna.
• Australian company Staywell Hospitality Group and its investment arm Seven Capital has lodged planning permission this week to convert a derelict office building in the city of Birmingham, U.K., into a 300-room Park Regis hotel, according to HVS. This would be the group’s first property outside of the Asia/Pacific region.
• Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel, opened its doors to London’s Belgravia neighborhood on 1 February 2012. A joint venture with The Harilela Group, the hotel is the first U.K. opening from Thompson Hotels.
• The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has announced plans to continue its global expansion with the brand’s first hotel in the capital city of Vienna. The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna is owned by an investor represented by Verny Capital.
• Accor has announced the sale of the 617-room Pullman Paris Rive Gauche to Bouygues Immobilier for €77 million (US$100 million), in line with its asset-right strategy. The hotel, whose operating performance and technical standards fall below Group requirements, will shut down in 2012. The contract also includes an earn-out mechanism, whose amount will depend on the terms and conditions of the reconstruction project.
• The National Asset Management Agency is set to sell Morrison Hotel, located in central Dublin, to one of Russia’s richest women, reports
The Irish Times. Yelena Baturina, the wife of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, is one of Russia’s few female billionaires and is on the bidding shortlist for the 4-star, 141-room lifestyle hotel, situated along the River Liffey. The amount of the sale will reportedly be between €20 million and €25 million (US$25.5 million to US$31.6 million).

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