De Vere gets new start with Starwood Capital investment
De Vere gets new start with Starwood Capital investment
15 SEPTEMBER 2017 8:59 AM

The De Vere brand has gone through numerous spinoffs, sales, additions and distress but has been relaunched with an investment by Starwood Capital as part of Principal Hotel Company.

LONDON—After De Vere announced Thursday the brand was being relaunched with a £100-million ($135.8 million) investment by Starwood Capital, brand COO Laurie Nicol said the relaunch “signifies a new chapter for De Vere’s rich heritage,” with assets combining traditional British offerings and modern luxury.

The De Vere portfolio will be absorbed into Starwood Capital’s Principal Hotel Company and includes 22 properties—all of which are located in the United Kingdom, including five in central London. De Vere’s assets comprise more than 4,000 keys, 662 event spaces and focus on stately home-style properties that collectively encompass 1,200 acres of grounds.

“De Vere has been reinvented, a combination of urban properties and rural mansions. These are dynamic properties,” Nicol said.

De Vere’s assets include 17th century De Vere Wotton House, close to London in Dorking, Surrey, which has undergone a £6-million ($8.1 million) overhaul; De Vere Latimer Estate in Buckinghamshire, also not far from the capital, which has had £7 million ($9.5 million) spent on a renovation; and De Vere Tortworth Court in Gloucestershire, which has seen a recent cash injection of £5 million ($6.8 million).

Principal has three open U.K. properties but will add two more hotels by the end of 2017. The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square will open in late September after a £25-million ($34 million) refurbishment. Then, once £70 million ($95.1 million) worth of renovations are completed, The Principal London is scheduled to open by the end of the year in the former Hotel Russell, which was built in 1898 on Russell Square.

Unraveled, reborn
Nicol referred to the brand’s complicated DNA, which has included Starwood Capital buys of Principal Hayley Hotels and Four Pillars Hotels.

Other parts of the original De Vere portfolio included sub-brands De Vere Village, De Vere Luxury Lodges and De Vere Hotels.

QHotels bought six assets from the Hotels and Luxury Lodges divisions in November 2014 for £160 million ($217 million), while private equity firm KSL Capital purchased 28 open and pipeline assets of the Village portfolio in the same month for £480 million ($652 million).

In March 2014, Starwood Capital bought the De Vere Venues portfolio for £232 million ($315 million) that has this week been brought back to life.

Starwood Capital bought the Venues assets from De Vere Group, which in 2010, with debts of £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion), transferred administration to Lloyds Banking Group via a £650-million ($882.9 million) debt-for-equity swap.

At the time of the 2014 De Vere Venues deal, Nick van Marken, former global head of Deloitte’s travel, hospitality and leisure department, said the transaction was significant.

“The sale of De Vere’s … assets will be a landmark, a significant point in this cycle,” he said at the time. “If you unravel the history, De Vere will have been successfully broken up and will be in the hands of a variety of new owners, a remarkable story in itself.”

On Thursday, Cody Bradshaw, managing director and head of European hotels at Starwood Capital, hailed De Vere’s transformation.

“2017 is the year De Vere is back with a vengeance,” Bradshaw said.

Tony Troy, CEO of Principal, said guests of De Vere will also be guests of Principal, depending on the purpose of visits, be it for leisure, business or both.

“They complement one another,” Troy said, who added that the brand is now leaner and more focused. Going forward, the goal will be not to scale up for the sake of it but to provide a portfolio of targeted hotels and venues in memorable locations.

To that end, in August the company hired Justin Turner as head of estates management. Turner is responsible for having those 1,200 acres complement and expand the offerings of De Vere’s hotels and venues.

With previous positions at the Royal Horticultural Society and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Turner told Hotel News Now that creating vibrancy and uniqueness will be driving forces in his work.

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