Briefs: Covivio lets 31 properties to B&B Hotels; Marriott’s safari lodge in Kenya

Covivio lets 31 hotels to B&B Hotels: Covivio, Metz, France, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding through its subsidiary Covivio Hotels with B&B Hotels for the takeover and sale-lease of 31 hotel operating properties (totaling 2,565 rooms) in France after their acquisition from AccorInvest. These 31 hotels, owned by Covivio and operating under Accor Group brands (Novotel, ibis and Mercure), were earlier let to AccorInvest under variable rent-leases. As per the memorandum, Covivio and B&B Hotels, who have been partners since 2010, have agreed on new, 12-year firm, fixed-rent leases. While Covivio will benefit from a considerable rise in rents since 2019, it will also participate in a works program conducted by B&B Hotels. The deal enables Covivio to support Europe’s third-largest economy class hotel brand during its new developmental phase in France.

Peachtree acquires seven: Peachtree Hotel Group has acquired seven premium-branded hotels for US$135 million. These hotels, totaling 829 rooms, include one Marriott and six Hilton hotels. All the acquired properties will be operated by Peachtree’s division, Peachtree Hospitality Management. Verakin Capital, San Mateo, California, has completed a minority investment in three of these hotels at an undisclosed amount, marking their third deal with Peachtree Hotel Group, totaling seven properties across four states. The seven acquired hotels include the 228-room, dual-flag hotel — 120-key Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Tempe, University Research Park and the 108-key Home2 Suites by Hilton Phoenix Tempe, University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona; the 137-key Aloft Hillsboro-Beaverton in Hillsboro, Oregon; the 121-key Home2 Suites by Hilton Eugene Downtown University Area in Eugene, Oregon; the 119-key Home2 Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh; McCandless in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and the 104-key Hilton Garden Inn West Lafayette Wabash Landing in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Mock up of interior of private tent at the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge

Marriott plans safari lodge in Africa: Marriott International has signed an agreement with Baraka Lodges Ltd., Uganda, to foray into the safari segment in Africa. JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge in Kenya will be located within the Mara National Reserve and is expected to open in 2023. The retreat will feature 20 private tents, including a presidential canvas-topped pavilion and two interconnecting canopied suites, each with a private terrace overlooking the River Talek. Shared spaces will comprise a lounge bar, restaurant, spa and an outdoor terrace with fire pits that will host traditional Masai dance performances in the evening. The safari lodge aims to employ 50 locals from among the Masai community. The interiors will be designed by Kristina Zanic. Marriott currently operates over 120 properties in Africa across its portfolio.

Blackstone looks to sell Butlin’s: Less than a year after Blackstone acquired for around £3 billion (US$3.94 billion) Bourne Leisure, which operates Butlin’s chain of holiday camps in the U.K., as well as Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven Hotels, it is looking to sell Butlin’s holiday camps for £700 million (US$921.42 million). The Butlin properties constitute three sites at Skegness, Minehead and Bognor Regis. News reports stated Blackstone was seeking to “reshape its Bourne leisure parks arm” as it evaluates the business’ future. Butlin’s camps are reportedly “sub-scale” and will need major investment to modernize the camps, as the skyline tents at all the three venues have holes in the roofs and need to be replaced. Replacing them will be costly and severely disrupt business, which is why the previous owners left them as is.

Swire, Xi’an Cheng Huan partnership: Swire Properties, Hong Kong, has partnered with Xi’an Cheng Huan Cultural Investment and Development Co. Ltd. to develop Taikoo Li Xi’an, the company’s seventh development in mainland China, located at the Small Wild Goose Pagoda cultural and historical zone in Xi’an Shaanxi Province’s Beilin District. The two companies acquired a site for commercial development in Beilin District for RMB2,575 million (US$404 million) and will form a joint venture to develop the site as a retail-led, mixed-use development. Swire will hold 70% interest in the joint venture, with Xi’an Cheng Huan Cultural holding the remaining 30% interest. Xi’an will mark the fifth city where Swire has a business presence, after Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Swire will be introducing its Taikoo Li brand in the project and will be the company’s fourth Taikoo Li in mainland China. The site will be developed into a retail-led project with a low-rise, open-plan architectural design comprising retail and cultural facilities along with a luxury hotel, serviced apartments and business apartments. The project is slated to be completed by the end of 2025.

Deutsche Hospitality, Al Hamra partnership: Deutsche Hospitality is expanding into the U.A.E. by partnering with Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah, to manage the Al Hamra Residences and Al Hamra Village Hotel. In the future, the resorts will use the Steigenberger Residences and MAXX by Deutsche Hospitality brand names. The residences and hotel are part of the Al Hamra integrated tourism destination, which allows guests access to the 18-hole Al Hamra Golf Club, the Al Hamra Marina and Yacht Club and the Al Hamra Mall. The 219-room Al Hamra Village Hotel is spread across 52 villas and features a swimming pool, restaurant and a pub. Located directly next to the beach, the residences consist of 143 apartments, ranging from studios to penthouses with five bedrooms. The complex includes a restaurant, a beach and pool bar, swimming pool, gym and tennis courts.

JPI Hospitality acquires in Mallorca: JPI Hospitality Investors Club, Vienna, Austria, has acquired the Tres Playas Hotel in Colonia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca, which is expected to reopen in the second quarter of this year. The 137-key resort spans across 8,000 square meters. The operation was advised by CBRE and was the year’s first purchase by this community of investors, which currently operates 12 hotels (seven in operation and five in the development stage). The operator for the hotel has not been disclosed yet.

Global travel outlook: Majority of travelers (74%) are willing to book a trip for this year even if they might have to modify or cancel it later, while 72%  of travelers planning to spend more money on domestic travel, indicating an uptick in travel sentiment, according to the 2022 Global Travel Trends Report by American Express Travel. Based on a survey of travelers in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan and India. Travelers are leaning towards well-being and are focused on engaging in positive practices like giving back to communities and protecting the environment. Almost 78% of respondents said they wanted to have a positive impact on the community they are visiting. Around 79% of respondents said they were looking forward to traveling with their family this year, while 76% said they plan to travel more with family this year than they did in last year. As music festivals, cultural and sporting events return, around 56% of respondents said they plan to return to these events this year after holding off on traveling for major entertainment events in 2021. Travelers are also eager to travel to their dream destinations this year, with 55% of respondents looking to book a once-in-their-lifetime vacation during the year.

TA Global launches new brand: TA Global Berhad, Kuala Lumpur, has launched its Paradox collection of hotels and resorts, the Canadian-born hospitality brand which derives inspiration from desires and tastes of the new generation of travelers. Paradox will launch its first property in Vancouver, Canada, with Paradox Hotel Vancouver. The flagship hotel is slated to open in April. In Southeast Asia, Paradox Resort & Residences Phuket opened in January, while Paradox Singapore Merchant Court at Clarke Quay will open in April. Independently branded properties, Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel and Aava Hotel in Whistler, Canada, will also join the Paradox portfolio. TA Global plans to expand the Paradox portfolio across the globe in the next decade.

AHLA Foundation, Castell Project merger: The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), the AHLA Foundation and the Castell Project have merged, with Castell becoming a part of the AHLA Foundation. The AHLA Foundation and Castell will work to accelerate and strengthen the industry’s commitment to elevate women in hospitality. They will also focus on four areas to support present and prospective women in the industry — facilitating leadership development, strengthening the college talent pipeline through mentorships, elevating more women to the podium through AHLA’s ForWard: Advancing Women in Hospitality and more such events, and conducting research on diversity, equity and inclusion, including women in hospitality leadership and diversity benchmarking.

Taj Hotels launches sustainability program: Taj Hotels, subsidiary of the Mumbai, India-based Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. (IHCL), launched a sustainability initiative called ‘Paathya’ that aims to eliminate single-use plastics and meet water requirement through recycle and reuse by 2030. Under the program, IHCL has set some long-term and short-term goals, including all its hotels being certified to a global sustainability standard. All of its parking spaces are slated to get chargers for electronic vehicles. IHCL said 78 of its hotels has achieved the EarthCheck certification, with 47 Platinum recognitions.