Briefs: Hyatt bringing Hello Kitty to China; W debuts in Greece

China’s first Hello Kitty hotel: Keyestone Group, Hong Kong, and Hyatt Hotels Corp. announced plans for China’s first Hello Kitty Hotel in Sanya, Hainan. The 221-room Sanya Hello Kitty Hotel will be developed by the Keyestone Group and will be an addition to the JdV by Hyatt brand. The hotel is slated to open in 2025 within the 52-acre Sanya Hello Kitty Resort, the first Hello Kitty theme park in the Hainan province. The property will include three signature restaurants and bar and a themed ballroom. The rooms and villas will be done up with Hello Kitty designs and other Sanrio characters. An intellectual property licensing agreement was signed between Keyestone Group and Sanrio (Shanghai) International Trade Co. in July 2019, which gave the former access to more than 400 trademark Sanrio characters, many of which will be featured in the hotel. The property will be the second Hyatt-branded hotel in Hainan that is being developed by Keyestone, after the Grand Hyatt Sanya Haitang Bay Resort & Spa which opened in 2016.

Lore Group appoints new CEO: Lore Group, London, announced it has promoted David Taylor to chief executive officer as the company prepares to open One Hundred Shoreditch, the group’s sixth hotel and second in London. Taylor previously served as the group’s chief operating officer and was in charge of operations at the company’s hotels, including opening Lyle Washington D.C. in April 2021 and overseeing global properties throughout the pandemic. Prior to joining the Lore Group, Taylor was in charge of launching the Edition brand in 2013 and led the Principal Hotel portfolio for Starwood Capital, where he served as the chief operating officer.

Crown might back Blackstone’s improved buyout offer: Casino Resorts Ltd., Australia’s biggest casino operator, said its board might back an improved AUD8.87 billion (US$6.42 billion) buyout offer from Blackstone Inc. unless they received a better offer. Crown received its fourth non-binding offer of AUD13.10 (US$9.48) a share after dismissing Blackstone’s earlier bid of AUD12.50 (US$9.04). Blackstone’s latest offer makes it the likely winner of taking over control of Crown, which has been facing inquiries of misconduct in every state it operates in. Perpetual, Crown’s third-largest shareholder with a stake of 9.2%, is in favor of Blackstone’s new proposal in the absence of a better offer.

Andaz Wall Street sells: The Hakimian Organization reportedly has sold for US$84.7 million the 253-room Andaz Wall Street hotel managed by Hyatt Hotels Corp. at its 75 Wall St. holding in New York City. The buyers are listed as Navika Capital Group and Blue Sky Hospitality. Hakimian will retain the condominiums housed above the hotel. The news comes after its lender, Annaly Commercial Real Estate Group, attempted to foreclose on an unpaid US$55 million loan. Hakimian reportedly marketed the property about two years ago for US$125 million.

W Costa Navarino

W debuts in Greece: Marriott International has signed a deal with TEMES S.A. to launch the W brand in Greece with the opening of W Costa Navarino. Slated to open this summer, the hotel will be the latest addition in the European portfolio of W Escapes, following locations in Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. Located in Navarino Waterfront, the integrated resort of Costa Navarino, the 246-key beachfront property is spread across 13 hectares and is designed by Greek architects Tombazis and Associate Architects. W Costa Navarino will offer five dining venues, including a destination beach club designed by Athens-based K-Studio. Currently, there are two Marriott properties in Costa Navarino — The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort and The Westin Resort Costa Navarino.

US performance dips: Hotel performance in the U.S. fell from the previous week, according to STR’s latest data through January 8.

  • Occupancy: 45.4% (-14.9%)
  • ADR: US$119.92 (-4.8%)
  • RevPAR: US$54.47 (-19%)

Occupancy fell week over week due to a slowdown in leisure demand and continued absence of business travel due to a Saturday holiday. ADR also dropped from an all-time high from the last week but the metric came in at about 95% of the 2019 comparable. While none of the Top 25 Markets saw occupancy increase over 2019, Dallas came closest to its pre-pandemic comparable (-6.6% to 55.1%). San Francisco/San Mateo experienced the largest occupancy decrease from 2019 (-52.9% to 36.8%), which was due to the market hosting the College Football Playoff National Championship during the corresponding week in 2019. The largest ADR increase (+26.1% to US$269.73) was in Miami, with the steepest RevPAR deficits in San Francisco/San Mateo (-87% to US$52.23) and Atlanta (-45% to US$47.80).

UK hotel investment volumes jump 84.3%: The total 2021 hotel investment volume in the U.K. reached £4.14 billion (US$5.65 billion), an 84.3% rise from 2020 volumes and just shy of the 15-year average of £4.22 billion (US$5.76 billion), according to Savills. There was significant increase in investment in the regional U.K. hotel market, reaching £2.04 billion (US$2.78 billion), more than 570% of 2020 volumes. Important deals included Goldman Sachs’ acquisition of The Belfry Hotel & Resort for £140 million (US$191.27 million) in November and Zetland Capital Partners’ acquisition of the Macdonald Manchester hotel and Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in November. Notable portfolio transactions include Henderson Park’s acquisition of a 12-hotel portfolio under Hilton brands (Project Conrad), Marathon Asset Management’s acquisition of 17 Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza branded hotels (Project Horizon) from Cerberus and Blackstone’s acquisition of Warner Leisure Hotels as part of the bigger Bourne Leisure transaction in February. Overseas investors in London account for 44.7% of 2021 volumes, including significant deals like Singapore-based Fragrance Group’s acquisition of the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. Total 2021 hotel investment volumes in London rose 11% YOY to £2.10 billion (US$2.86 billion), while the number of transactions jumped 68.4% over the same period, reaching 32 transactions.

Nordic Choice still dealing with ransomware attack: Nordic Choice Hotels, the Oslo-based chain with over 200 hotels across Baltic and Scandinavia countries, is reportedly still dealing with technology issues after the company fell prey to a ransomware attack in December 2021. An investigation revealed that hackers breached Nordic Choice’s system 36 to 48 hours ahead of the attack through a phishing email that seemed to be sent by a tour operator frequently in touch with the company. An employee of a hotel clicked on the link, helping hackers to gain access to the hotel’s antivirus systems and data from local Windows files. The company reacted to the attack by shutting down corporate computers, check-in desks and other machines, disconnected their computers from the internet and went the old-fashioned way to check in guests during the holiday season. Check in details of guests were recorded with pen and paper and guests would be escorted to their rooms as digital keycards stopped working. Even after five weeks since the attack, the company continues to face problems in machines providing heating, music and other services. Nordic Choice has fast-tracked an earlier plan to migrate from Windows system to Google Chrome products to help recover operations. The first computer was converted to the new system within 24 hours of the attack and operations were restored at the first hotel within 48 hours, with check-ins and bookings running on Chrome. Roughly 2,000 computers across 212 hotels were migrated to Chrome in two days.

AHLA announces 2022 leadership: The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) announced its 2022 officers, board of directors and executive committee. Justin Knight, CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT, was named chair of the board; Leslie Hale, president and CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust, was named vice chair; Kevin Jacobs, CFO and president of global development at Hilton, joins as secretary/treasurer; and Tom Bardenett, executive vice president, asset management at RLJ Lodging Trust, becomes chair of the AHLA Foundation Board of Trustees. Knight succeeds Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corp., who has served as chair for the past year and becomes immediate past chair. Coming on the heels of record membership and engagement in the past two years, AHLA will be launching a new strategic plan to guide the association’s future.

Remington grows in Austin: Remington Hotels has added the 88-key SpringHill Suites Austin West/Lakeway by Marriott in Lakeway, Texas, to its management portfolio. The hotel, which opened in August 2020, marks Remingtons’s first deal of 2022 and its fourth property in the greater Austin area. The company currently manages 86 hotels in 26 states across 17 brands, which includes 12 independent and boutique properties. The hotel also marks TCOR Hotel Partners’ fifth hotel acquisition and second with Gentry Mills as its equity partner.