Briefs: Four Seasons to KSA development; Murray Sonesta’s new CEO

Four Seasons to KSA Diriyah development: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) have announced plans for Four Seasons Hotel Diriyah near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 150-key hotel is part of the Diriyah master plan, which will consist of 13 districts featuring residences, hospitality offerings, office and retail space, museums and outdoor attractions. The Diriyah development is being planned as the Middle East’s most pedestrianized and walkable cities.

John Murray

Murray Sonesta’s new CEO: Sonesta International Hotels Corp., Newton, Massachusetts, has appointed John Murray, a director of the company since 2018, as president and CEO effective April 1. Murray has been a managing trustee, president and CEO of Service Properties Trust (SVC), which owns a 34% interest in Sonesta, since 2018 and a member of SVC’s management team since it floated its IPO in 1995. Murray will resign from his posts of president and CEO of SVC and president and CEO of Industrial Logistics Properties Trust and will continue to serve as a managing trustee on the boards of both the companies. Murray succeeds Carlos Flores, who is resigning from his position after seven years and will continue as an advisor to Murray and Sonesta.

Perial acquires Club Med resort: Perial Asset Management, Paris, has acquired from Covivio and Assurances du Crédit Mutuel the 420-room Club Med Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon resort in Haute-Savoie in south eastern France.Valued at €128 million (US$139.67 million), the transaction is the first in the mountain hotel industry for the management company. Located amid one of the largest French ski areas, the resort has been operated by Club Med under a long-term lease with a fixed rent, which allows the new owner to benefit from a secure income stream. CBRE represented the seller, while Perial was advised by Hova Hospitality (Dominique Ozanne), Oudot et Associés and Ashurst.

New buyer for Standard Hollywood: The Standard, Hollywood in West Hollywood, California, will soon be acquired by hoteliers Ian Schrager and Ed Scheetz, multiple sources have reported. Schrager and Scheetz are under contract to purchase signage rights and the operating lease, which will enable the use of the hotel without transferring ownership. The property, slated to be rebranded, closed in 2021 after suffering heavy losses during the pandemic.

CBRE arranges loan for Postcard Inn acquisition: CBRE has arranged a key loan worth US$72.25 million (US$369,000 per key) for the US$83 million (US$423,000 per key) acquisition of the Postcard Inn, St. Pete Beach, Florida, on behalf of a joint venture between New York-based The LCP Group and Dubai- and New York-based Safanad. The CBRE Hotels Debt & Structured Finance team facilitated the financing with BlackRock on behalf of the buyer. The seller, TPG Hotels & Resorts, was represented by CBRE Hotels. The 196-key hotel is expected to undergo a modernization by the joint venture.

Hilton plans to double France portfolio: As part of its growth strategy for France, Hilton said on Monday that it plans to open more than 20 hotels in the country in the next few years. Hilton opened six hotels in France in the last 12 months under several brands in cities like Paris, Lyon, Tours and Le Havre. Across Europe, Hilton plans to open over 60 hotels by the end of the year, while long-term development will see 237 hotels being added to their European portfolio. From about 450 hotels at the beginning of 2020, Hilton’s European portfolio grew to 500 hotels by the end of 2021. Currently, Hilton has 19 trading properties in France and globally ended last year with over 6,800 hotels across 122 countries. The company has a development pipeline of 2,668 hotels, half of which are under construction.

London performance improves: Hotel performance in London saw a month-over-month improvement in February, according to preliminary data from STR.

  • Occupancy: 58.8%
  • ADR: £130.79 (US$170.48)
  • RevPAR: £76.88 (US$100.21)

The occupancy level peaked since November 2021 but was still 25% below the pre-pandemic comparable from 2019. ADR was only 1.6% lower than February 2019. As per daily data, London’s performance improved especially on weekends, with February 26 producing the highest performance levels for the month: occupancy (80.8%), ADR (£162.33/US$211.60), and RevPAR (£131.18/US$170.99).

Slight increase in Sydney’s occupancy: Amid rising cases of COVID-19 and a slow return to offices, Sydney’s hotel industry saw a marginal rise in occupancy in February but decreased rates, according to preliminary February data by STR.

  • Occupancy: 41.7%
  • ADR: AU$211.42 (US$154.12)
  • RevPAR: AU$88.21 (US$64.30)

While occupancy saw a slight increase, the market’s absolute ADR and RevPAR levels fell month-over-month. When indexed to 2019, RevPAR was just 35% of 2019 levels. STR’s latest Forward STAR data shows improving occupancy over 2021, with an increase in both March (+50%) and April (+43%) levels.

Gas reimbursement for new recruits: The Meritage Resort and Spa and its neighboring sister property Vista Collina Resort in Napa Valley, California, announced they would offer job candidates a unique incentive at their job fairs — gasoline reimbursement for the first three months of employment. The job fairs will be held on March 16 and March 30 at the Fountain Courtyard at The Meritage Resort from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. There are plans to provide on-the-spot part-time, full-time and seasonal summer/winter job offers in open hospitality roles ranging from sales to finance, culinary and banquets and more.