Briefs: Naples Grande sells for US$218.4 million; CitizenM to the metaverse

Naples Grande sells for US$218.4 million: London-based private equity company Henderson Park has acquired the Naples Grande Hotel in Naples, Florida, for US$218.4 million and an additional US$24.8 million for its 18-hole golf course and US$4.8 million for the 15-court tennis center from Denver, Colorado-based Northwood Hospitality. Northwood had acquired the properties in 2013 for US$149 million, indicating a 46% surge in value over the last nine years. The 395-key hotel includes 29 tower suites with 50 villas, seven restaurants/bars, 12 spa rooms and three pools spread across 23 acres. Henderson Park owns hotels across Europe totaling around 9,300 keys. 

Hilton grows presence in Kyoto: Hilton has signed a management agreement with Tokyo Tatemono Co. Ltd. to launch the 313-key Hilton Kyoto in 2024, Hilton’s first flagship-branded hotel in Kyoto. This is the third hotel development inked by Hilton in Kyoto, following the openings of ROKU Kyoto, LXR Hotels & Resorts in 2021 and Hilton Garden Inn Kyoto Shijo Karasuma which is slated to open later this year. The hotel will include four dining venues including an all-day dining restaurant, a specialty restaurant, a bar and a café, an indoor pool and executive lounge, fitness center and banquet and meeting rooms.

CitizenM becomes the first hospitality brand to buy property in The Sandbox

CitizenM buys property in the metaverse: CitizenM, Amsterdam, has announced it will acquire a LAND site in The Sandbox, a decentralized gaming virtual world and a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, to build a hotel in the metaverse; becoming the first hospitality brand to buy property in The Sandbox. The Sandbox is a metaverse where users can create and monetize their own worlds and gaming experiences on LANDs, which are NFTs that are a representation of the virtual real estate. CitizenM will be showcasing and selling future NFT collections which will be commissioned with talent in the digital art space. CitizenM plans to fund the build of the hotel by selling an exclusive collection of NFTs which will feature real-world rewards (discounts, free drinks, etc.). Each of the 2,000 NFTs will be priced the same but purchasers will be assigned at random one of three levels — 1500 “regular” citizens, 450 “special” citizens and 50 “legendary” citizens. Later, the company will use the profits and the incorporation of a decentralized autonomous organization to fund a real-life, physical property where token holders will vote on the location.

Accor, Traveloka partnership: Accor has announced a new distribution partnership with Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s lifestyle app. The agreement will allow guests to access Accor properties in 13 countries on Traveloka’s platform. The agreement will help Traveloka grow its international business into Europe. The partnership will be supported with dedicated marketing initiatives which will help boost travel recovery across Southeast Asia. Tavelers can book a selection of Accor hotels with access to real-time availability, offers, mobile rates and ease of payment for transactions made on the app. Accor’s network in Southeast Asia will exceed 500 properties by 2024.

The Georges grows boutique presence: The Georges, the boutique hotel in Lexington, Virginia, has acquired the neighboring Sheridan Livery Building, which houses the Tonic Restaurant and Inn, from the Benincasa family. The acquisition will grow The Georges from 21 rooms to 33 and add more banquet and event space. Ann Parker Gottwald, the owner of The Georges, will spearhead the hotel’s refurbishment project. The first phase of renovation will focus on the 12 rooms, while the future phases will address the building’s restaurant and event spaces.

Australian Grand Prix lifts Melbourne occupancy: The Australian Grand Prix, to be held this weekend, is driving Melbourne’s occupancy on the books to the highest level since November 2019, as per STR’s Forward STAR. Till April 4, the Thursday-Sunday (April 7-10) average in the market is 89%, peaking at 94% on Saturday night. If the Saturday level actualizes, it will be the market’s highest daily occupancy since November 30, 2019 as well as for any key Australian capital since New Year’s Eve 2019.

Centara grows in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Centara Hotels & Resorts, Bangkok, Thailand, and Chiangmai Riverside Plaza Hotel Co. Ltd. have signed a hotel management agreement for Centara Riverside Hotel Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The existing 526-key, 27-story hotel has been rebranded as a Centara property from April 1. The hotel includes restaurants and bars, an outdoor swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms and 14 indoor event spaces. This is Centara’s second property in the city after Khum Phaya Resort & Spa and a third Centara hotel is expected to open in 2025. The addition of this hotel to Centara’s portfolio is part of its plan to increase its presence from almost 90 properties to 200 properties by 2026.

Business travel recovery trend report: Majority (84%) of business travelers are likely to take at least one trip to attend conventions, conferences or trade shows in the coming six months, revealed a new Quarterly Business Travel Tracker study. While less than one out of 10 business travelers in the U.S. were uncertain if they would travel in the next six months, the most common reason for uncertainty was events and meetings were not being conducted. Corporate policies limiting business travel emerged as the second-highest reason for uncertainty. Business travelers expected to begin traveling at an average of 1.6 monthly trips, compared to 1.7 monthly trips before the pandemic. While the U.S. Travel predicted that business travel spending was still 60% from its pre-pandemic levels, the Quarterly Business Travel Tracker’s data showed a shift in American business traveler’s desire to resume in-person meetings. The study said while business travel activity slowed down in Q1 2022, conditions for travel like GDP and business investment were quite favorable reaching an index of 105 for Q2 2022 (compared to 100 in 2019).

Global tourism outlook: Global tourism receipts were much below the pre-pandemic figure in 2021 amid persisting travel restrictions and uncertainties and economic recovery getting impacted by changing consumer behavior but as cases of COVID-19 gradually reduce and governments reopen international borders, there are signs of optimism for the future of tourism, according to STR’s February survey. The survey evaluated consumer behaviors and views, canvassing opinions from a global audience to gauge outlook on travel. While international travel was less appealing than domestic travel, the net propensity to travel was +32% for domestic and international travel, improving from July and November 2021. The parity in opinions regarding domestic and international tourism indicated a boost for international travel. While consumers overall maintained a cautious attitude towards COVID-19, about 42% of the respondents said the virus was a major reason for not booking a trip or traveling recently compared to 56% in November 2021 and 67% in July 2021. Comfort barriers, like concerns regarding infection, and financial barriers were lesser in significance than government barriers. Urban destinations are rising in popularity, with. Net interest in city breaks -3% while other urban locations came in at least +1.9%.

Travel companies’ dilemma over surging fuel prices: As companies grapple with increasing energy prices, the lodging, transportation and tourism industries are likely to be impacted, with tourism businesses in a dilemma whether to pass the surcharges on to the consumers or absorb it themselves, observed GlobalData. After the economic hardships faced due to the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry was witnessing a turnaround, with low-cost travel options being the most preferred. However, with the surging energy and fuel prices, airlines and rail companies are facing higher overhead costs than in previous years. Surging operational costs can also be a problem for pre-booked holidays this year and in 2023. If companies levy a surcharge into existing reservations to cover their extra costs, it could result in customers canceling their booked vacations, eventually damaging customer relationships. This may force companies to look for alternative measures like reducing services or streamlining operational processes.

Meetings and events volume surge 55%: Meetings volume from February to March jumped 55.5%, with a 428% increase compared to March 2021, noted Knowland’s monthly meetings and events data for March. Individual recovery metrics were level with 2019, with a recovery of 47.5% recovery of events in March 2022 from March 2019. The average number of attendees per event this March was 108, up from 61 in March 2021 and at par with 110 in March 2019. The average space used in March 2022 was 2,756 square feet, while meetings in March 2021 averages 2,512 square feet and 2,987 square feet in March 2019. The top five growth markets in March were Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and San Diego. The corporate sector accounted for over 65.2% of meeting and event business; with healthcare, technology and training/education leading as the biggest industry groups.

Atom Hotels acquires in Barcelona: Spain-based Atom Hotels SOCIMI announced the acquisition of the 213-key, 4-star Hotel Senator Barcelona, marking the first post-COVID transaction by the company. Other details of the transaction were not disclosed. Atom Hotels plans to renovate and reform the hotel.