Briefs: Atlas acquires 6 hotels; LXR debuts in South East Asia

Atlas acquires 6 hotels: London + Regional’s Atlas Hotels, Leicester, England, has acquired the Chardon Group’s six Holiday Inn Express properties located in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dunfermline and Perth, totaling 569 keys. The acquisition will increase Atlas’ portfolio to 60 locations across the U.K. with more than 7,400 rooms. The company has earmarked £200 million (US$272.24 million) to expand the group and is looking to add existing hotels, along with conversion and development opportunities. The group, supported by its affiliate L+R Hotels, acquired or opened 10 properties in the last two years. Currently, Atlas is the largest IHG franchisee in continental Europe.

IHG returns to profitability: InterContinental Hotels Group reported 4Q21 earnings on Tuesday and posted a pretax profit of US$361 million based on US$2.91 billion in revenue, compared with a pretax loss of US$280 million for 2020. It also announced a reinstatement of dividend payments with an interim dividend of 85.9 cents. RevPAR grew 71% in the fourth quarter, and 46% for the full year (70% of 2019 levels). IHG witnessed particularly strong recovery in the U.S., resulting in Americas FY RevPAR (20)% versus 2019, with Greater China (29%) and EMEAA (52%); In Q4, Americas improved to (7%) versus 2019, with Greater China (33%) and EMEAA (33%). Development activity in 2021 was well ahead of 2020, with 437 hotel signings contributing to a global pipeline that represents more than 30% of today’s system size.

LXR Resort in Bali, Indonesia

First LXR property in South East Asia: Hilton has partnered with PT Surya Semesta Internusa Tck to launch the first LXR Hotels & Resorts-branded resort in South East Asia. The 72 all-villa resort will open in Bali, Indonesia, later this year, marking Hilton’s fourth resort on the island. Featuring luxury suites and villas offering panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, the resort will include five dining concepts, a clifftop chapel, event spaces and more.

Thompson Hotels debuts in Spain: An affiliate of Hyatt Hotels Corp. has entered into an agreement with Exacorp One S.L. for Thompson Madrid, the first Thompson Hotels property in Spain. Scheduled to open later this year, the 175-key luxury lifestyle hotel will include 23 suites and an additional two-story penthouse with panoramic views. The hotel will also feature an open-air courtyard, fitness center and three F&B outlets, including the signature rooftop terrace with a bar and restaurant. The culinary outlets will be managed by Grupo La Ancha. This will be the third Hyatt-branded hotel in Madrid, after the Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid and Hyatt Regency Hesperia Madrid.

UK to end COVID restrictions: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of all legal restrictions regarding self-isolation and start “living with COVID-19” in England, while making it clear that the pandemic was still not over. The other three nations — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have the devolved authority to enforce their own norms. The restrictions will be lifted in phases and is subject to approval in parliament. The mandatory norm of self-isolation after testing positive will end on February 24, although the government continues to advice that people should isolate. Vaccinated persons coming in contact with those who tested positive will no longer be required to test for seven days and unvaccinated people coming in contact with those who tested positive will no longer be required to isolate. Workers will not be mandated to inform their employers if they have tested positive. Some of the financial support offered to those who are unable to work from home if they test positive will be removed from March 24. The government will also no longer provide free rapid tests and people will no longer be required to carry a COVID certificate domestically in England.

Chef Todd English announce JV: Celebrity chef Todd English and entrepreneur Keith Burkard have launched EHG, The English Hospitality Group, which will feature several hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and ghost kitchens both domestically and internationally. The JV includes the English Hotel Chain, which will be launched in March with an upscale, boutique hotel in Las Vegas. There will be more EHG properties in Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, London, Beijing and Macau. In Los Angeles, EHG will launch a Mykonos-themed day club, MIA by Todd English, and a members-only day and nightclub. There are two more Todd English Signature Olives restaurants — one each in Miami and downtown New York — in the pipeline. The JV will also launch a Todd English food hall and global art exhibition in Stamford, Connecticut, and partner with Reef Global to launch Pound Burger by Todd English ghost kitchens in Dubai. In the cannabis space, Burkard has launched a micro-dosed THC Infused ready-to-eat food, LastLeaf, items in California and will expand it to Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada with strategic partners.

USAFA hotel announced: Matthews Southwest Hospitality (MSWH) has unveiled plans for a United States Air Force Academy Hotel located on the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) campus beneath the Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 375-key resort will include 19 suites, as well as meeting space and multiple F&B outlets. The hotel will offer two flight simulators, the only in-hotel flight simulators in the country. The hotel will be managed by CoralTree Hospitality and be a part of TrueNorth Commons, a mixed-use development at the North Entrance of the USAFA. MSWH is developing the property with owner Provident Group-Falcon Properties, Atlanta-based BLUR Workshop and GE Johnson. Construction will begin this spring and the hotel is slated to open in 2024.

Asia Pac recovery outlook: Visitor arrival numbers across 39 destinations in the Asia Pacific region are projected to recover from 129.4 million in 2020 to 817.7 million, 702.5 million and 501.9 million under the mild, medium and severe scenarios respectively by 2024, predicted the 10th Asia Pacific Visitor Forecast report. Compared with the level of visitors in 2019, the recovery rates are projected to be 116.2%, 99.8% and 71.3% respectively. The report was released by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University along with the Pacific Asia Travel Association. South Asia is likely to have the highest recovery rate of 123.3% under the mild scenario, since the region returned to more than 90% of the 2019 volume of visitors in 2021. International visitors into the Pacific and the Americas will increase faster than other regions/sub-regions with the same recovery rate of 105% under the medium scenario and 80.3% and 79.2% respectively, under the severe scenario. The lowest recovery rate under the mild scenario is likely to be for Northeast Asia, which is likely to return to 112.6% of the 2019 level in 2024. Under the medium scenario, South Asia will be the slowest recovering sub-region with a recovery rate of 95%, while under the severe scenario it is expected to be West Asia with a rate of 61.3%.

Americas Best Value Inn Wells rebrands: Americas Best Value Inn Wells in Wells-Ogunquit, Maine, announced it has undergone rebranding and will operate as Anchor Inn & Cottage Wells-Ogunquit. The rebranding includes a new blog and website, highlighting the boutique experience. The hotel has also invested US$1 million in renovations and capital improvements. The property’s buildings, fencing, roofs and bathrooms have been remodeled and the WiFi system and bedding have been upgraded.

Chinese travel sentiment shows staggered recovery: Despite record high consumer confidence among the Chinese, desire for travel shows staggered recovery due to the intermittent outbreaks of COVID-19, according to the latest ‘Outlook for China tourism in 2022’ report by McKinsey. Consumer confidence about the Chinese economy recovering within the two-three months peaked to 67% in October 2021, compared to 43% in February 2020. A predictable pattern has emerged, where eagerness to travel recovering about two months after a dip and remaining, despite restricted international traveling. Domestic travel has been affected with the recent sporadic outbreaks but confidence in domestic travel rebounds quickly. The survey revealed that travelers’ preferences and attitudes are shifting, with implications for travel companies. The number of airline passengers jumped 61% between August and September 2021, rose 8% in October and fell 45% between October and November. Despite the fluctuating travel aspirations, the Chinese still show eagerness to travel, with 42% of respondents planning to travel domestically for their next leisure trip, 26% of these involving flights of more than three hours of travel time. Eagerness to travel overseas has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with APAC being the top choice (24%). Southeast Asia, Europe, Russia, and Japan were named as the most desired overseas destinations.

Slight growth in Middle East construction pipeline: Hotel construction pipeline in the Middle East improved slightly and stands at 546 projects/150,547 rooms, according to Lodging Econometrics. This is the second consecutive quarter increase in project count, after declines in eight consecutive quarters, since Q3 2019. Projects currently under construction fell 4% by projects and 9% by rooms YOY to stand at 337 projects/102,821 rooms. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months rose 5% by projects and 20% by rooms YOY and stands at 86 projects/22,987 rooms. At 123 projects/24,739 rooms, projects in the early planning stage increased 13% and stayed unchanged by rooms YOY. With 210 projects/69,078 rooms, Saudi Arabia led with countries with the most projects in the construction pipeline, followed by the U.A.E. with 126 projects/35,666 rooms. Five franchise companies represented 60% of projects and 58% of rooms, with Hilton leading with 97 projects/25,574 rooms.

Manhattan’s Q4 RevPAR jumps 389%: As vaccination rates increased and COVID-19 protocols were relaxed in Manhattan, RevPAR and ADR benefitted as tourist destinations and restaurants functioned fully in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to PwC’s Manhattan Lodging Index: Q4 2021. While RevPAR skyrocketed 389.1%, overall occupancy and ADR was 69.2% and US$292.98 respectively. Manhattan’s RevPAR nearly doubled for the year overall, increasing from US$67.95 in 2020 to US$130.88 in 2021. YOY increases in RevPAR were highest in December, going up to 497.3%. Upper upscale properties saw the most significant YOY increase in RevPAR, rising 457.4% to US$186.85 for the quarter, boosted by an increase of 196% in occupancy and 88.3% in ADR. For luxury hotel properties, occupancy grew by 202.4% and ADR rose by 82.9%. Q4 RevPAR finished the quarter up 452.9% to US$430.65. Of the five Manhattan neighborhoods, all experienced YOY increases in RevPAR with occupancy and ADR growing across the island. Midtown East had the largest increase in RevPAR – up 697%, driven mostly by a 286.2% increase in occupancy YOY.