Briefs: Reubens take Admiralty Arch development; SLS to Uruguay

Reuben Brothers acquire Admiralty Arch development: David and Simon Reuben, through their London-based investment vehicle Motcomb Estates, have acquired the much-delayed Waldorf Astoria development at London’s Admiralty Arch from Prime Investors Capital. The development is situated at the entrance to the Mall leading to the Buckingham Palace. London-based Prime Investors Capital had acquired the 250-year-old lease on the building for £60 million (US$73.39 million) in 2015. In 2017, it was announced that the hotel would open in 2022 under Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand. Upon completion, the hotel will offer luxury private residences and a private members club. Admiralty Arch was originally built as a memorial by King Edward VII to his mother Queen Victoria. Later, it was used as government offices until it was put up for sale in 2011.

Rendering of the SLS Punta del Este

Ennismore debuts SLS brand in Uruguay: Ennismore’s brand SLS Hotels & Residences has announced its first property in Uruguay with the opening of SLS Punta del Este Hotel & Residences in Punta del Este. The hotel, which has been developed by the GNV Group and designed by Gómez Platero, comprises 80 rooms and 150 residences across two SLS-style towers. The property is the second SLS-branded hotel in the region, following the recent opening of SLS Puerto Madero in Argentina. SLS is part of London-based Ennismore, which was created in 2021 in a joint venture with Accor. There are currently eight SLS-branded hotels globally, with more set to open in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Saudi Arabia in 2024. Currently, Ennismore has 90 operating properties and 160 more in the pipeline across 14 brands and more than 150 restaurants and nightlife destinations.

Pebblebrook closes sale of San Francisco hotel: Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Bethesda, Maryland, has completed the sale of the 208-key The Marker San Francisco in California for US$77 million to an undisclosed buyer. Before the hotel’s sale, Pebblebrook had planned a US$25 million renovation for the property. Pebblebrook will use the proceeds from the sale for general corporate uses and reduce its outstanding debt borrowings with recent hotel acquisitions. For the trailing 12 months ended May 31, the hotel’s estimated net operating loss was US$2 million, and its estimated hotel EBITDA was US$1.8 million. Based on the hotel’s operating performance for 2019, its selling price reflects a 10x EBITDA multiple and an 8.8% net operating income capitalization rate. The net operating income or loss for both periods mentioned is after an assumed annual capital reserve of 4% of total hotel revenues. Pebblebrook currently owns 54 properties (totaling 13,400 rooms) across 16 markets.

JLL advises on Maldives hotel portfolio deal: JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group has advised on the sale of the 176-room Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa and the 77-villa W Maldives to a global private equity investor for an undisclosed price. The properties are sold with the benefit of Marriott International management. The transaction is the first hospitality portfolio deal to have occurred in the Maldives and is one of the biggest open-market deals in the Maldives. JLL represented Universal Enterprises and Marriott International.

NatWest finances Edinburgh Resident hotel: Resident Hotels has secured a loan of £22 million (US$26.9 million) with NatWest for the development of its first property in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2021, owners Mactaggart Family & Partners announced they were developing Meldrum House by transforming the HM Revenue & Customs office into a 166-room Resident Hotel. The multi-million-pound deal will allow Resident Hotels to finish the delivery of the new £50 million (US$61.15 million) The Resident Edinburgh, which will take the company’s portfolio to six hotels, including four in London and one in Liverpool. Currently, renovation is in progress at the Edinburgh property with an expected opening date of Q1 2024. NatWest’s financing allows the extension and refurbishment of the building’s original structure to add two floors which will offer views of the Edinburgh Castle and the rest of the city.

Business travel recovery survey: More than half of large-company executives have agreed that cutting down on business travel will help in short-term savings but cause long-term negative impacts on revenue, according to a survey which is part of the Quarterly Business Travel Tracker launched in April in collaboration between the U.S. Travel Association, J.D. Power and Tourism Economics. Over two-thirds of corporate executives anticipate their organization will spend less on business travel in the next six months against the corresponding period in 2019. Half of the executives have policies which restricts business travel due to the pandemic. About 52% expect pandemic-related business travel policies to be reevaluated sometime this year. The Business Travel Index projected a positive outlook for Q3, with an anticipated improvement to 84, up from 81 in Q2. The business conditions leading index also improved moderately and rose to 103 for Q3, up from 102 in Q2.

Dubai international visitation skyrockets: The successful resurgence of tourism in Dubai has helped the city welcome 6.17 million international travelers from this January to May, a 197% increase YOY from the same five-month period in 2021, according to Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism. Hotels in Dubai maintained an average occupancy level of 76% from January to March, against 62% in the corresponding period in 2021. The citywide ‘Stay More, Pay Less’ campaign is supported by more than 60 hotels which allows guests to stay for seven nights at participating properties and pay for only five nights or stay for five nights and pay for only three nights.

AHLA Foundation extends ad campaign: The American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) announced it is doubling its investment and growing its nationwide advertisement campaign to over dozen markets in July, as 69% of Americans plan to travel this summer. The foundation’s ‘A Place to Stay’ campaign is expected to attract more employees into the travel industry by showcasing the sector’s salary, potential benefits and upward career mobility. The national campaign was launched earlier this year and is now reaching 14 markets. The next phase of the campaign will see the creation of a bilingual (English and Spanish) microsite, growing its presence on other social media channels like TikTok and LinkedIn and launching email newsletters.

UK hospitality sector profitability survey: The profitability of hospitality businesses in the U.K. is declining, with only 37% presently profitable as increasing energy costs (74%), goods (55%) and labor (54%) impacting profitability, revealed a survey conducted by the British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality. About 45% of businesses are forced to cut down opening hours to avoid permanent closure and one in six reported they have no cash reserves. About 28% business owners are mulling investing in their businesses because of the challenging economic condition. The survey identified three key priorities to ensure the sector’s recovery — handling the current inflationary conditions, reforms that would drive growth potential and a new investment and tax regime that enables a productive hospitality sector.

Whitbread names new CEO: Whitbread, Dunstable, England, has named Dominic Paul as its new CEO, succeeding Alison Brittain, who will retire at the end of fiscal year 2023. Paul will join the company in January 2023 after stepping down from the CEO’s role at Domino’s Pizza Group this December.