5 things to know: 28 February 2020
5 things to know: 28 February 2020
28 FEBRUARY 2020 10:38 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now Editorial staff: 

  • IHIF pushed back to May over coronavirus concerns
  • Marriott’s Sorenson addresses coronavirus uncertainties
  • Whitbread completes acquisition of 19 German hotels
  • Performance drops for Hong Kong hotel industry
  • Look back at a 1920s hotel being turned into apartments

IHIF pushed back to May over coronavirus concerns: The organizers of the International Hospitality Investment Forum, which was scheduled to take place 2-4 March in Berlin, has been postponed to the week of 4-6 May “due to the global concern regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak,” according to a news release from Questex, the event’s organizer.

Questex said this was the best course of action for attendees and that the company is in communication with conference sponsors, partners and delegates.

“This was a very difficult decision as many in the community were asking us to proceed with the show. Ultimately there is no greater importance than the health and safety of our community members and that will always be the guiding principle that drives our business,” Questex CEO Paul Miller said in the release.

Marriott’s Sorenson addresses coronavirus uncertainties: On an earnings call to report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings results, Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson said there are a lot of uncertainties around the impact of COVID-19, HNN’s Dana Miller writes.

Sorenson said he’s certain consumer confidence will return once the virus has passed.

“Clearly this is a major humanitarian crisis, and our thoughts are with the many people impacted,” he said. “As the virus emerged in Wuhan earlier this year, our teams assisted guests and provided support for associates whose lives have been significantly disrupted. I couldn’t be prouder of our associates in the Asia/Pacific region who have worked tirelessly.”

He added that revenue per available room at Marriott locations in Greater China decreased approximately 90% in February over the same period in 2018. Approximately 90 of Marriott’s properties are closed in Greater China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Whitbread completes acquisition of 19 German hotels: Whitbread PLC, the parent company of the Premier Inn hotel chain, has bought another 19 hotels from German owner Foremost Hospitality Group GmbH to increase its footprint in Germany, according to Stock Market Wire, which quoted the British firm’s CEO Alison Brittain. Whitbread had previously bought a separate portfolio of 19 hotels from Foremost in February 2018.

The latest deal, which sees Whitbread expand significantly in its only other market of scale outside of the United Kingdom, involves 13 existing hotels and six under development. This deal enlarges its open and committed pipeline in Germany to 52 hotels.

Performance drops for Hong Kong hotel industry: Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai Properties has a weak outlook for hospitality and retail sectors in the city after “its hotel business took a pounding in the second half of last year,” the South China Morning Post reports.

The development company saw hotel operating profits drop 75.1% to 197 million Hong Kong dollars ($25.3 million) and saw a large drop in RevPAR.

“In Hong Kong, external economic uncertainties, coupled with the latest [coronavirus] epidemic and local social unrest, will pose greater downside risks to the territory’s economy, particularly tourism and retail-related sectors,” Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, chairman and managing director of the SHKP, said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to the news outlet.

The company owns high-end hotels in the market.

Look back at a 1920s hotel being turned into apartments: The Hotel Grim in Texarkana, Texas, has been vacant for 30 years, but a development group is bringing the structure back to its “1920s splendor” in the form of an apartment building, the Texarkana Gazette reports.

The tiles and bricks from when the hotel was built in 1924 are in good shape and the renovation process is in the works.

When the building was a hotel, guests dined at the hotel café on the first floor, which also featured a “Palm Court” that had white columns and a fountain area. “The lobby was billed as the showcase of the hotel and featured a marble floor,” the news outlet reports.

Compiled by Danielle Hess.

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