Briefs: Westin San Jose sells; “Better-for-You and Your Planet” launched

Moxy debuts in Canada: JONO Developments and Hotel Equities announced the Q4 2022 opening of a 160-key Moxy hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The property will be the first new-build Moxy hotel in Canada and will be owned and developed by JONO. Hotel Equities currently has 30 hotels across four provinces in Canada.

Wealth Ventures Founding Partners Suzie Baleson and Allie Hope

“Better for You and Your Planet” firm launched: Wellth Ventures has launched as a venture capital investment firm committed to building a healthier, more sustainable and more connected world. Through Wellth Ventures, Founding Partners Allie Hope and Suzie Baleson will focus on early-stage opportunities in the “Better-for-You and Your Planet” consumer product and hospitality-focused proptech sectors, and will support like-minded entrepreneurs with a unique vision for the future. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has made a financial commitment to support Wellth Ventures’ activities. Hope and Baleson have extensive operating and investment experience across Wellth Ventures’ target sectors. Hope was until recently chief development officer of Virgin Hotels and will have a continued advisory role with the brand. Baleson is the founder of Wellth Collective, a wellness and hospitality-focused marketing and strategy agency, and over the past decade has emerged in the hospitality and ‘better-for-you’ consumer goods sectors as the industries have begun to focus on health and wellness. Wellth Collective is the strategic agency partner of Wellth Ventures and will support their portfolio companies as they grow.

Dayan brothers, Isrotel to expand overseas: The Israel-based Dayan Brothers, who own Africa Israel Hotels, is looking to expand overseas and are reportedly negotiating to acquire hotels in Cyprus and Greece through the hotel chain Isrotel. The brothers are planning to acquire 60 hotels in the two countries for €1.2 billion (US$1.36 billion). According to Israeli media reports, all these hotels are for sale, with most of them in Greece and some in Cyprus. Isrotel currently has 20 hotels in Israel and is opening two more in the country.

Westin San Jose sells for US$44.9 million: An affiliate of Irvine, California-based Khanna Enterprises acquired the historic The Westin San Jose, earlier known as the Sainte Claire Hotel, from South Korea-based Aju Hotels and Resorts for US$44.9 million. The 171-key hotel sold at a loss compared to its price about five years ago. Aju bought the hotel in 2017 for US$64 million. With this acquisition, Khanna Enterprises now owns two hotels within a block of each other and are both hotel brands are owned by Marriott. The company also owns Four Points by Sheraton in the city. The six-story hotel, constructed in 1926, was restored in the 1990s and was then known as Hyatt Sainte Claire and was renamed as Hotel Sainte Claire in 2000. Following another renovation in 2015, it was rebranded as the Westin San Jose.

The Bruntsfield opens after £1 million investment: Independent hotel The Bruntsfield has opened in Edinburgh following a £1 million (US$1.35 million). Operating earlier as Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel, the 72-key property was acquired in May 2021 by U.K.-based private real estate firm Castleforge Partners. The new owners appointed Axiom Hospitality in September 2021 to refurbish, reposition and operate the hotel. This is the second property Axiom has de-flagged to be completely independent, after The Dilly in London which opened in May 2021. The Bruntsfield will be affiliated with World Hotels.

US construction pipeline dips 8%: The Q4 2021 U.S. construction pipeline fell 8% by projects and 10% by rooms YOY to stand at 4,814 projects and 581,953 rooms, according to Lodging Econometrics. Although project totals fell marginally YOY, the number of projects in the early planning stage continues to increase. Projects in the early planning stage grew 18% by projects and 11% by rooms YOY to stand at 2,021 projects/239,816 rooms. Projects scheduled to begin construction in the next 12 months stand at 1.821 projects and 210,890 rooms, while projects under construction were 972 projects/131,247 rooms. New project announcements, however, declined in the quarter. Through year-end 2021, the U.S. opened 823 projects (accounting for 105,705 rooms) growing by 1.9%. For 2022, Lodging Econometrics is predicting 783 projects/90,074 rooms to open at a supply growth rate of 1.6%. In 2023, supply rate is projected to continue to remain 1.6% with another 820 projects/93,112 rooms expected to open by the year-end.

Fragrance Group acquires London Holiday Inn: Fragrance Group, Singapore, grew its U.K. portfolio with the acquisition of the 906-key Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum in London from Britain-based Queensgate Investments for an undisclosed sum. According to a Savills report, the acquisition made in December 2021 was one of the biggest hotel deals in the city in the past year. The hotel will reportedly close early this year for refurbishments and reopen later in the year. Fragrance purchased the hotel after Queensgate failed to get an approval for a £1 billion (US$1.35 million) redevelopment proposal due to public opposition. In 2019, Queensgate acquired the hotel from Apollo Global Management for £350 million (US$474.34 million) and had planned to transform it into an integrated development featuring 749-room hotels, 340 serviced apartments, 62 affordable homes and space for restaurants.

Four Seasons to end management in Las Colinas: The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is planning to conclude the management of the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas, Texas, on December 31. The hotel’s owner, Extell, is looking for another luxury hotel company to take on the project. Troon Golf has committed to manage the golf course and operations. A new management company is likely to be announced later this year, along with a timeline for transitioning the management of the property. Four Seasons has managed the hotel since the club opened in 1983 and the hotel opened in 1986.

Banyan Investment Group’s first acquisition from BLEV fund: Banyan Investment Group has acquired the 114-suite Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta/Perimeter Center. The hotel marks the company’s first acquisition through the recently-announced Banyan Lodging Enhanced Value Fund, LLC. The hotel was purchased at below-replacement costs.

Woodmont, Milestone, Blue Vista JV acquire in NC: Woodmont Lodging, Milestone Companies and Blue Vista Capital Management announced the joint venture acquisition of the 111-key Holiday Inn Asheville East in North Carolina, marking the joint venture’s fourth finalized hotel transaction since 2018. The hotel underwent renovations in 2016 and 2017, updating all the rooms, public spaces and restaurant. Shortly after that, IHG recognized the property with the 2019 Kemmons Wilson Spirit of Family Award.

Travelodge launches recruitment drive: Travelodge has launched a recruitment drive to fill 600 vacancies, ranging from receptionists to managers, spread across 582 of its hotels in the U.K. and its headquarters in Thame, Oxfordshire. The 600 vacancies are for both part and full-time jobs and the company is recruiting more maintenance engineers to join its field team.

Ceebros Group to acquire in India: Ceebros Group, the Chennai, India-based property developer, is reportedly finalizing a redevelopment agreement with Adyar Gate Hotels Ltd. to transform the Crowne Plaza into a premium residential project. The 286-key hotel was previously known as the Adyar Gate Hotel and was later run by the Gurugram-based ITC Hotels as Park Sheraton Hotels & Towers. This is Ceebros’ third acquisition in Chennai, after the purchase of the Atlantic Hotel and Viceroy. Both the hotels have been razed to make way for residential towers.

The robot’s great escape: A new robot vacuum cleaner tried to run for its life at the Orchard Park in Cambridge, England, and enjoyed its great escape until it was found under a hedge by a human cleaner the following day. Staff at the Travelodge hotel wrote on social media that the automated cleaner failed to stop at the front door and couldn’t be found anywhere and seemed to enjoy its break for freedom. The robot’s disappearance went unnoticed for around 15 minutes, following which a search was conducted to bring it back. It has now gone back to its shelf at the hotel and joined its other robot cleaner family.