The selloff of the von Essen portfolio of properties in the U.K. is finally complete as entrepreneur and BBC2 television personality James Caan just picked up the 22-room Ston Easton Park in Bath and 24-room Sharrow Bay in Cumbria at a bargain price reported at £4.5 million (US$7.1 million).
Both properties were originally put on the market for £5 million (US$7.9 million) each but sold at steep discounts reportedly due to a short leasehold at Sharrow Bay.
A variety of new owners are now in the process of upgrading the former von Essen country properties. For example, Caan reportedly has arranged a new long-term lease at Sharrow Bay and plans to develop his two new hotels into boutique country house hotels.
The 28-hotel von Essen portfolio went into administration in April 2011 with debts of £295 million (US$468 million). With these final sales, total proceeds from the sales reached only £150 million (US$238 million). The most expensive former von Essen hotel was the 41-room Cliveden, located in Taplow, England, which sold for £30 million (US$47 million) from the U.K.’s National Trust to British billionaire brothers Ian and Richard Livingstone.
London property magnate Andrew Davis founded von Essen Hotels in the 1990s. The firm fell into financial difficulty due in part to its aggressive acquisition strategy, along with an inability to maintain acceptable RevPAR rates at its pricey provincial properties through the economic downturn.