Featured in this EMEA Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 23 April 2004
Sun Capital Comes Out For De Vere In The Premier Lodge Race
Exclusive: London Might Have Charm And Character
Jurys Inn Doing Good Service
Forhecz Given To Making Another Purchase In Hungary
Quiet Revolution At CHE Group
Take Me To The (Newly Refurbished) Hilton
Fitzwilliam Hotel Group Prepares For Park Plaza
Atkins' Diet Includes A Piece of Libya
Singer Sews Up Hotel In Manchester
Marriott Reaches End Of March Exultant
Exciting Times At Starwood
Countdown To The 4th Global Travel & Tourism Summit Begins

Sun Capital Comes Out For De Vere In The Premier Lodge Race
De Vere Group has confessed to having an eye for the Premier Lodge chain, describing the budget hotels as a potentially 'attractive addition' to its portfolio and highlighting how well the brand would get along with the family of Village Leisure properties. However, if De Vere were to see off rival suitors it would walk up the aisle only if its intended met strict investment criteria. Helping De Vere in the matchmaking process is Sun Capital Partners, which would take ownership of most of the assets (Spirit Group, which is selling the Premier Lodge portfolio, is likely to retain ownership of the associated pub-restaurants). De Vere would operate most of the hotels and would secure the rights to the Premier Lodge brand. A velvet hand here, but De Vere Group has this week again had to show that the other hand readily forms into an iron fist. GPG (UK) Holdings has released its offer document relating to last month's 415 pence a share bid for a 25% stake in De Vere, which, in retaliation, added 'poorly conceived' to a lexicon that already contains 'derisory' and 'unsolicited and unwelcome' as the company's chosen adjectives for a process that GPG would like to see conclude with the sale of the De Vere Hotels division.

Exclusive: London Might Have Charm And Character Return to Headlines
Its appetite for its home market apparently satisfied for the present French operator Hotels Unis de France is lifting its gaze from the 180 hotels it will have in France to look across the Channel to London. The company is hoping to sign up suitable properties to its upscale Exclusive Hotels brand as Hotels Unis' parent company Auxi-A embarks on a programme of expansion in Europe that will also reportedly take in Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. It would like to assimilate 25 properties in the UK by the end of the year; in addition to character and charm, the successful applicants will typically have between 35 and 50 rooms and be independently owned.

Jurys Inn Doing Good Service Return to Headlines
Shareholders in Jurys Doyle Hotel Group will have left this week's annual general meeting in good heart after hearing Chairman Richard Hooper announce that the improvement in trading that the company saw in the second half of 2003 had continued into 2004. Praise was heaped upon the hotel portfolio in the UK and the USA, and the Jurys Inn portfolio, recently swelled with the opening of the 172-room Jurys Inn Chelsea, in west London, also received a favourable word. Mr Hooper though did have a brickbat hidden inside the bouquet, and this he tossed in the direction of Ireland and the four-star and five-star properties there, which, he said, were constraining the company's overall trading performance. The chairman soon restored his audience's smiles though by expressing his cautious optimism for Jurys Doyle's underlying profit growth in 2004.

Forhecz Given To Making Another Purchase In Hungary Return to Headlines
Two months ago family-owned real estate company Forhecz Ingatlan had an outing to the central Hungarian town of Székesfehérvár and returned home having acquired the Arpad Spa. Now the company has a hotel to go with it, having paid an undisclosed sum for the three-star Hotel Alba Regia; however, reports suggest that the 104-room property is destined to be converted into offices and luxury apartments. Forhecz's compatriot and fellow real estate provider Infor 92, meanwhile, is to build a 50-room hotel as part of a US$9.5 million holiday village in the western Hungarian town of Zalaszentgrót. Bouygues Hungaria, a subsidiary of French construction company Bouygues, has the capital Budapest in its sights; it will build a hotel of some 500 to 600 rooms as part of a US$143 million mixed-use redevelopment of a former racecourse. While the rest of the country immerses itself in frantic building activity, Radisson SAS Hotels can sit back, relax and admire the newly opened Radisson SAS Birdland Resort & Spa; it is just over two years since the company announced that it had signed a management contract with Hungaria Golf on the 208-room hotel in the western town of Bük.

Quiet Revolution At CHE Group Return to Headlines
The year ending 31 December 2003 may have been a difficult one for the hotel industry but Choice Hotels Europe (CHE Group) could take comfort from seeing the previous year's pre-tax loss of £2.3 million narrow to a pre-tax loss of £1.4 million. The company also saw an improvement in like-for-like turnover, which rose 0.4% to £75.5 million. CHE Group derives 80% of its turnover from its UK hotels and the New Connaught Rooms combined; hotel occupancy fell by 1.6 percentage points, to 63.5%, and RevPAR slipped 1.6%, to £24.11. The political events of the past year also caused a delay to the company's planned development of the Sleep Inn portfolio. However, CHE Group is confident that construction work on six new properties will begin within the next few weeks.

Take Me To The (Newly Refurbished) Hilton Return to Headlines
Of Hilton International's four hotels in Austria the 579-room Hilton Vienna and its conference centre is the biggest in the country. It is probably the freshest too: it closed last year for a multimillion euro refurbishment, work which included the construction of the conference centre. The hotel is set to reopen on 17 May. Similar amounts of money have been spent on renovation work at the 375-room Hilton Düsseldorf in western Germany; work should be finished here later this spring. Elsewhere in Germany, the Europa-Park theme park near the southwestern town of Rust will be greeting not only visitors on 1 June but also the arrival of a third hotel: the 346-room, four-star Hotel Colosseo.

Fitzwilliam Hotel Group Prepares For Park Plaza Return to Headlines
Park Plaza Hotels Europe last month named the Fitzwilliam Hotel Group as its franchise partner in Ireland, and noted that one hotel in Dublin and one across the border in Belfast would be the first to take the Park Plaza brand. The announcement did not include the name of either hotel, but now The Irish Times has identified both properties as belonging to none other than Fitzwilliam itself. The Royal Dublin Hotel will emerge from an extensive renovation as the Park Plaza Royal Dublin; the Belfast hotel to be similarly branded is The Fitzwilliam International Hotel. These two properties and their stablemate in Dublin, The Fitzwilliam Hotel, are now under the sole control of Fitzwilliam Hotel Group's CEO Michael Holland, who last week bought out the stake held by his long-term business partner Brendan Gilmore for a reported €25 million. Elsewhere in Ireland, businessman Chuck Feeney is to put the four-star Castletroy Park Hotel under the hammer on 27 May; the 107-room hotel in Limerick has a reported asking price of more than €17 million.

Atkins' Diet Includes A Piece of Libya Return to Headlines
The Financial Times reports that WS Atkins is to be the latest firm to set foot on the newly hospitable shores of Libya. The UK company is to design a luxury resort complex costing between US$124 million and US$212 million for the coast at Sidi Benure, near the capital Tripoli. On the other side of the Mediterranean, in the Valencia region of eastern Spain, Sol Meliá has opened the 133-room, three-star Tryp Almussafes at the Rey Juan Carlos I business park. AC Hotels' interest lies over the border in Portugal, where its compatriot, the real estate firm Pryconsa, has opened the renovated Palacio Sottomayor trade centre; the 83-room, four-star AC Palacio Sottomayor stands adjacent.

Singer Sews Up Hotel In Manchester Return to Headlines
Pop veteran Sir Cliff Richard has made his first entry into the hotel charts by taking joint ownership of the 141-room Arora International Manchester, which is due to open next month. Any bachelor boy or devil woman might be tempted into staying there by reports suggesting that six of the rooms in the Grade II listed building will be adorned with some of the singer's personal possessions. Across in Ireland, Brushfield, which includes Bono of rock group U2 among its members, has applied for permission to extend the luxury 49-room Clarence Hotel in Dublin.

Marriott Reaches End Of March Exultant Return to Headlines
Marriott International came into full bloom this spring as its first quarter closed on 31 March with RevPAR at comparable full service hotels worldwide 7.8% ahead of the previous year's figure. Net income for the quarter leapt 31% to US$114 million and revenues rose by 11% to US$2.3 billion; little wonder then that Chairman and CEO JW Marriott, Jr hailed the results as 'terrific'. The company is seeing growth in group and transient demand, and it is forecasting RevPAR growth in North America of 6-8% in 2004.

Exciting Times At Starwood Return to Headlines
In common with its compatriot Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts also had a definite spring in its step at the end of its first quarter on 31 March. The company recorded an 18.7% rise in EBITDA, to US$222 million; a 13.0% increase in total revenues, to US$1.2 billion; and celebrated an 11.6% rise in RevPAR at comparable owned hotels worldwide. Chairman and CEO Barry S. Sternlicht concluded that this was an exciting time for the company and its shareholders.

Countdown To The 4th Global Travel & Tourism Summit Begins Return to Headlines
In just over a week's time distinguished panellists including Akbar Al Baker (CEO, Qatar Airways), Doug Baker (US Department of Commerce) and Edwin Fuller (Marriott Lodging International) will be taking their seats for 'Driving Change' at the Sheraton Hotel Doha in Qatar. Driving Change is the theme of the 4th Global Travel & Tourism Summit, which over the three days from 1 May will hear from Mr Al Baker as he unveils the Grand Plan for Tourism in Qatar, and catch up with the findings of the World Travel & Tourism Council into the economic potential of travel and tourism in the new member countries of the European Union. If you are planning to attend this important event and would like to meet up with Russell Kett, Managing Director of HVS International's London office, while you are in Doha, please contact him in advance (rkett@hvs.com) to set something up. Further details on the summit may be obtained from the website www.globaltraveltourism.com click here.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 15/04/04-22/04/04

Choice Hotels Europe - Investors took heart from seeing the company narrow its losses and adopt an optimistic outlook.

InterContinental Hotels Group - The share price rose on news of Marriott's and Starwood's strong first-quarter performance.

De Vere Group - The board's stance in regard to GPG (UK) Holdings caused the share price to tumble.