Briefs: Financial aid for UK hoteliers; City Lodge properties reopen

Financial support for UK hoteliers: The Omicron Hospitality Payment for U.K. hospitality businesses affected by the pandemic has been extended to hotel operators. Hotels can avail a one-off grant between £10,000 (US$13,406) and £20,000 (US$26,812), depending on their value. So far, around 2,000 non-hotel businesses have received a one-off grant from the finance department to cope with disruption caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The fund was launched in December 2021 and Finance Minister Conor Murphy had said his department would provide a fund of £40 million (US$53.62 million) for more than 3,000 hospitality businesses.

Shimao selling Hyatt in Shanghai: Chinese developer Shimao Group has reported that it will sell the Hyatt on the Bund in Shanghai to state-owned Shanghai Land Group for 4.5 billion yuan (US$707.83 million), according to Reuters. The move comes as Shimao reportedly seeks to reduce its debt as China’s property sector struggles to find its balance. The Chinese government is buying assets to stabilize and tighten control over the real estate market. Shimao in 2022 has US$1.7 billion maturities offshore and 8.9 billion yuan onshore, according to Moody’s.

Gaw Capital selling big Marriott in Oakland?: A report surfacing Friday suggested an affiliate of Los Angeles-based Gaw Capital, which has its main headquarters in Hong Kong, has put up for sale the high-profile, 500-room Oakland Marriott City Center. The property, which Gaw bought in 2017 for a reported US$143 million, is reportedly being marketed by Eastdil Secured. The hotel is also directly connected to the George P. Scotlan Memorial Convention Center, which features 64,100 square feet of event and exhibit space.

Among the last three City Lodge Hotel Group properties to open their doors in South Africa, the Road Lodge Isando

City Lodge Hotel Group properties reopen: All 63 properties of the City Lodge Hotel Group across South Africa and elsewhere in Africa will be completely reopened from February 7, the Johannesburg-based group announced. The hotels have been reopening in a phased manner, based on lockdown travel norms, international border closure or opening and customer demand. The last three hotels in South Africa to reopen after the pandemic are Road Lodge Islando (on January 30) and City Lodge Hotel Sandton, Morningside and Road Lodge Sandton (on February 7). The group has enhanced its food and beverage offerings and added the new eat-in restaurants at all Town Lodges and Road Lodges, which will be serving lunch and dinner.

Kona Bay Hotel sale closes: JLL announced it has closed the US$21 million fee simple sale of the 122-key, select-service Kona Bay Hotel in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on behalf of the seller, a local family. Shapery Enterprises bought the property. The JLL team representing the seller was led by Eric Kathrein, Geoff Tranchina and Wendell Brooks.

USTA welcomes additional H-2B visas: The U.S. Travel Association welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to release 20,000 additional H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas for the first half of FY 2022 but said “more is needed to ensure businesses are adequately staffed.” “The release of these additional visas is a good start to address the U.S. travel industry’s significant workforce challenges, but more is needed to ensure businesses are adequately staffed — particularly ahead of the busy summer travel season when so many businesses rely on access to temporary workers to sustain operations.” Pointing out that there were more than 1.5 million vacancies in the leisure and hospitality sector, USTA urged the administration to release more H-2B visas which will be instrumental in ensuring recovery across all sectors of travel.

Under Canvas, Rivian partner: Under Canvas, the outdoor hospitality and events company, and Rivian, the electric vehicle maker and automotive technology company, have partnered to launch open-network Waypoints chargers in Under Canvas’ locations. The chargers will be available exclusively for guests during months of operation for all electric vehicles. Level 2 charging stations will be available for an overnight charge and charging will be facilitated by the Rivian app, which will display charging time and payment options. Under Canvas is Rivian’s first hospitality partner. As a special launch offer from opening days on March 3 and March 10, guests at Under Canvas Moab and Lake Powell-Grand Staircase in Utah can access complimentary charging.

Lionel Messi’s MiM acquires in Spain: MiM Hotels, the hotel chain owned by footballer Lionel Messi, has acquired a hotel in Sotogrande in Spain. The hotel, which will open in April, will be managed by Majestic Hotel Group. The property features 45 loft-style rooms with a view of the port of Sotogrande and the Mediterranean Sea, two restaurants with terraces, spa, pool and a gym. The property was last renovated in 2006 and interiors were designed by Easter Ortega. The MiM Sotogrande Club Maritimo is the sixth property in MiM’s portfolio. The hotel’s sale reportedly coincided with the expiration of the lease of the premises to Midas Restaurant, on the ground floor of the hotel, in December 2021. According to media reports, the restaurant’s owners have confirmed they will reopen in the same place by March-end.

Virgin Hotel San Francisco legal tussle goes to trial: The legal tussle between Virgin Hotels and the owner of the Virgin Hotels San Francisco, Jay Singh of Paradigm Hotels Group, will be going to a jury trial from February 7. The hotel, which opened in February 2019, closed at the start of the pandemic and has been mired in a legal battle after Singh terminated Virgin’s operating agreement in April 2020. Virgin Hotels sued Paradigm for “wrongfully and prematurely” terminating the contract. In July 2020, Singh countersued Virgin, claiming the latter had, in fact, breached the contract. Virgin is reportedly seeking more than US$20 million in damages, the exact sum that they owe in management fees through the life of the contract, while Singh is seeking unspecified damages.