With property prices low and visitor figures relatively high in Barcelona amid the broader euro crisis, global hotel brands see this as the perfect moment to develop and invest in the stable international tourist destination, writes HotelNewsNow.com correspondent Tamara Thiessen.
Figures from the Barcelona Hotel Association for the first quarter of 2012 show a year-over-year hike in roomnights sold of nearly 3% (from 3,004,285 to 3,092,263), while the number of visitors rose by 2.4% from 1,510,150 to 1,546,688.
Tourism Barcelona, the official tourism promotion body, said average occupancies rose from 74.8% in 2010 to 77.5% in 2011. The group expects growth to continue throughout 2012 and 2013.
International 4- and 5-star hotel groups are busy buying into Barcelona’s buoyancy. Capping off a series of newcomers in 2010 and 2011—including the Hotel Novotel Barcelona City, Pullman Barcelona Skipper and W Hotels Barcelona—was the April opening of the 211-room Renaissance Barcelona. And in June, Austrian K+K Hotels Group opened its first Spanish property, the 96-room, 4-star K+K Hotel Picasso near the Parc de la Ciutadella, run by brothers Heinrich and Bernard Koller.
Accor’s midscale brand Mercure announced Wednesday that nearly 50% of the brand’s rooms in its 725 hotels have been renovated or are in line with the brand’s new vision it announced in 2010.
Mercure said the renovation program will be complete within four to five years.
"The renovations are based on a reinterpretation of the codes of the city in which the hotel is located. The idea is to give Mercure an image worthy of its network, to reinforce its coherence while respecting its diversity. The project has been met with great enthusiasm by the franchisees, who will benefit from the image of a strong, attractive and coherent brand," said Christophe Alaux, COO of Accor’s hotels in France.
Melco Crown Entertainment Limited announced Thursday that MPEL Projects Limited, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, entered into a memorandum of agreement with SM Group, Belle Corporation and PremiumLeisure and Amusement, Inc., to negotiate an agreement for the leasing, development, operation and management of certain parcels of land located in the Philippines, including the further development of the building structure and shell of a grand casino and hotel complex into a world-class casino, hotel, retail and entertainment complex.
Under the terms of the provisional license, The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation requires the consortium to make a minimum investment of $650 million at the start of commercial operations and $1 billion for the entire project.
MPEL Projects’ total investment over the course of the project is expected to be no more than $580 million, contributed by a combination of cash, cash flow and debt financing. It is expected that a loan facility of approximately $320 million may be made available to MPEL Projects to help finance the project.
Frankfurt, Germany-based Commerzbank is getting out of commercial real-estate financing as well as ship financing in light of the continuing uncertain situation in the European financial markets, according to a report from CoStar Group.
"Against the background of the ongoing financial and sovereign debt crisis, an end to which is not foreseeable, and of the uncertain regulatory environment, we are subjecting all the business areas to a rigorous review in the framework of our strategic planning process," said Martin Blessing, chairman of Commerzbank, the largest CRE lender in Germany. "The strategic objective is that of consistently focusing Commerzbank on customer-centric and sustainably profitable core business and further minimizing risks and capital lockup."
Commercial real estate and ship finance are to be transferred in full to the new segment of non-core assets.
Commerzbank’s planned exit from commercial property lending comes just three months after it said it would continue such lending and signals accelerating deleveraging in Europe, Fitch Ratings said.
According to FlightStats’ May 2012 Airline and Airport On-time Performance Report, North American airlines, on average, delivered 78.8% of their flights to the arrival gate within 15 minutes of schedule in May, down from April's 81.3%. Cancellations remained at just more than 1%.
North America's top 10 performing airlines and their on-time arrival percentages in May were:
Horizon Air - 94.3%
Hawaiian Airlines - 93.9%
Taca Int'l - 91.1%
Alaska Airlines - 90.8%
Copa Airlines - 90%
Hawaii Island Air - 88.8%
Compass Airlines - 88.7%
Airtran Airways - 88.1%
Westjet - 88%
Virgin America - 86.7%
Compiled by Stephanie Wharton.