Briefs: New JV buys in Savannah; Rosewood to manage at Red Sea

New JV development company: Charleston, South Carolina-based The Montford Group and Boca Raton, Florida-based Opterra Capital have acquired from HOS Management the new, 129-room Aloft Savannah Airport, marking their second Aloft-branded hotel under ownership and first in Georgia. Aimbridge Hospitality will manage the property. At the same time, Glenn Alba, founder and CEO of Opterra Capital and Sunju Patel, founder and CEO of The Montford Group announced the launch of TMGOC Ventures to expand development and investment opportunities within the hospitality space and build a national portfolio. Recent TMGOC Ventures acquisitions and upcoming developments include the 136-key Aloft Jacksonville Airport hotel in Jacksonville, Florida; the 180-room Hotel Melby, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, in Melbourne, Florida; the 131-key Moxy Charleston by Marriott, currently under construction and slated to open in late 2022; three other branded and independent lifestyle hotels in Charleston, currently in design and planning; a 208-key branded lifestyle hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, expected to break ground in 2022; and a 150-key hotel in Macon, Georgia that will be part of a mixed-used development with residential, retail and entertainment.

Busch family buys out The Meritage Resort: The Busch family and Pacific Hospitality Group, Irvine, California, have led the recapitalization of The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, California. By increasing their ownership, the Busch family facilitated the exit of former investors from the property at a significant gain, reenergized long-term partners and brought in new equity investors into the resort. The family’s commitment includes a US$25 million investment in enhancements, which includes renovating guest-rooms (to be completed in 2023), meetings and events spaces (to be completed this winter) and the launch of a pop-up French bistro (to open this summer). The resort, which opened in 2006, was bought in 2004 and features 322 rooms, along with 145 upgraded upscale rooms at Vista Collina at The Meritage. Pacific Hospitality Group, which is fully owned by the Busch family, has been managing the property since 2004 and will continue to manage it.

Crescent acquires in Alabama: Crescent Real Estate, Fort Worth, Texas, through its investment vehicle GP Invitation Fund III, has acquired the 129-key all-suite Residence Inn Downtown at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama. Built in 2009, the Residence Inn underwent renovations in 2018. However, Crescent will begin extensive multi-million renovations to upgrade the rooms and offer a best-in-class experience. HEI Hotels & Resorts will manage the hotel. Berkadia served as the advisor to the seller in the deal.

Rendering of Rosewood Red Sea at Shura Island, Saudi Arabia

Rosewood to manage Red Sea resort: The Red Sea Development Co. has appointed Hong Kong-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts to manage Rosewood Red Sea, which will open as part of the first phase of the multi-complex Red Sea development in Shura Island, Saudi Arabia. Rosewood Red Sea will include 149 rooms and suites, three restaurants, two lounges, a signature Manor Club, a central hub, event pavilions, a spa and a yoga pavilion. The new hotel will be part of The Red Sea destination, which consists of a marina featuring a yacht club, commercial retail and dining venues, and an 18-hole championship golf course. Spread across 22 islands and five inland sites, The Red Sea project is scheduled to be completed in 2030 and will include upper-upscale segments with mono-island resorts, beach resorts, centralized island hubs and inland resorts in desert mountains.

Gas prices, inflation impact on summer travel: Even as travel rebounds, gas prices and inflation will impact Americans’ summer travel decisions more than concerns about the pandemic, according to the latest survey by Morning Consult which was commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. While 82% of American respondents said gas prices will have some impact on their travel decisions, 78% said COVID-19 infection rates were a consideration in deciding whether to travel during summer. This summer, 69% of Americans said they were likely to travel, while 60% said they were likely to take more vacations. About 57% said they were likely to take fewer leisure trips and 54% said they were likely to take shorter trips due to the surge in gas prices. Around 44% were likely to postpone trips and 33% were likely to cancel their trips. About 57% were planning to take a family vacation this summer and most of them plan to stay in a hotel.

Spanish rates up 36%: Room rates in hotels across Spain saw a 36% rise in April compared to April 2021, with rates touching €96.3 (US$103.12) during the Easter holidays that marked an eagerly awaited rebound of tourism, as per official data. The average rate increased by 15% compared to April 2019. Data from the National Statistics Institute showed rooms in 5-star hotels were 23% higher than last year, averaging €226.5 (US$242.54) per night, with 2-star hotel rates surging by 66% and averaging €66 (US$70.67). There has been a significant rise in foreign tourism into Spain, led by Britain and Germany, helping hoteliers adjust their rates and cover fuel and inflation rises. Tourist arrivals in April were at 86% of pre-pandemic levels. Mallorca-based chain Melia said it registered an increase of 18% in room rates during the Easter week and expects better sales at its resort properties this year than in 2019.

Europe construction pipeline dips: Hotel construction pipeline in Europe fell 8% by projects and 11% by rooms YOY, revealed Lodging Econometrics. Projects under construction stand at 875 projects/141,304 rooms, at the end of Q1 2022, while projects expected to begin construction in the next 12 months stand at 443 projects/65,611 rooms. Projects in the early planning stage are at 463 projects/70,375 rooms, projects in this stage are up 5% by projects and down 1% by rooms YOY. The rate of new hotel openings in Europe has dropped significantly over the last three quarters. Last year, at 2Q21, new hotel openings reached a record-high of 169 hotels/24,472 rooms, but at the end of 1Q22, it declined to 60 new hotel openings, representing 8,931 rooms. This is still above the region’s lowest new hotel opening point, which occurred during the peak of COVID in Q2 20, in which only 37 hotels/6,871 rooms opened. The top countries in the region’s construction pipeline by project count at 1Q22 were the U.K. with 328 projects/48,207 rooms, Germany (266 projects/47,004 rooms), France (161 projects/18,981 rooms), Portugal (125 projects/14,880 rooms) and Poland (82 projects/11,693 rooms).

Flexibility in hotels: Flexibility has become a hallmark of companies with great cultures, with two macro changes driving flexibility into the mainstream, found the report Driving Flexible Working Structures in Hotels by EHL Hospitality Business School and HoteliersGuild Leading Hôtelières. There have been major changes in the work sector, triggered by the pandemic.While 15-16% of companies allowed remote working before COVID-19, it surged to 70% in spring 2021. A family-friendly corporate culture and supervisor behavior leads to greater work flexibility, the report stated. Work flexibility benefits both the staff and hotels, and increases innovative capabilities, company resilience and wellbeing of employees. There is, however, a discrepancy in internal stakeholders on the availability and use of work flexibility, which is impacting organizational resilience and job satisfaction. There is no effect of gender association between the contributing factors and flexibility and outcomes, which might highlight that flexibility is not gender specific.

Terra Firma looks to acquire Butlin’s: Terra Firma Capital Partners, the London-based private equity firm led by Guy Hands, is reportedly one of the bidders looking to acquire Butlin’s, the chain of holiday camps in the U.K. from the U.K.-based Bourne Leisure owned by Blackstone. Terra Firma is believed to have tabled an offer for the three holiday resorts, competing against Queensgate, Bain Capital, Epiris and TDR Capital. Bourne Leisure put Butlin’s up for sale in 2021. Rothschild is managing the sale of the holiday camps.

Newport expands in Pennsylvania: Newport Hospitality Group, Williamsburg, Virginia, has added the 253-key all-suite DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia West in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Newport plans to transition the hotel to an Embassy Suites-branded property over the next year. The hotel marks Newport’s 14th property in Pennsylvania and features 13 meeting rooms, a bar, restaurant, indoor pool, fitness and business centers.