Featured in this EMEA Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 19 March 2004
Wren's Seen At Park Plaza's Table
Get Your Stakes In St Petersburg
Quinn Group To Sell Two In Ireland
Bahraini Diplomat Is Larsen & Toubro's Bag
Lodore Falls To Lake District Hotels
Malmaison Rose As The Leaves Fell
Melisron Closes In On Ofer Offer In Budapest
Kempinski On A Roll In Switzerland

Wren's Seen At Park Plaza's Table
Park Plaza Hotels Europe has named those it would like as partners for adventures in franchising in Ireland and Croatia. Step forward in the Emerald Isle the Fitzwilliam Hotel Group, which by the end of 2004 will have applied the Park Plaza brand to two properties. Although the identity of neither hotel was revealed, it is known that the pair – one in Dublin, the other in Belfast – are both independently operated and in combination have a total of 300 rooms. Fitzwilliam's CEO Michael Holland said that he hoped to have ten Park Plaza hotels in Ireland within five years. The chosen one in Croatia is Wren's Hotel Group, which will begin by running the Park Plaza flag up the pole at a property it operates in Rijeka on the Adriatic coast, the 121-room Grand Hotel Bonavia. Wren's Hotel Group's Chairman Goran Štrok would like to see the collaboration yield a series of franchise hotels across Croatia.

Get Your Stakes In St Petersburg Return to Headlines
The city property fund of St Petersburg is reportedly planning to sell its 23% stake in the five-star Astoria Hotel and its controlling interest in five other properties, including the likes of the four-star Pulkovskaya Hotel, in the Russian city. Rezidor SAS Hospitality is said to be one of those interested in a process through which the fund hopes to raise US$30 million. Elsewhere in the city, Solnechny Bereg is to start work on an aparthotel in the Kurortny district. Across the Baltic, in Finland, native construction firm SRV Viitoset is to join forces with chemical firm Kemira and hotel and restaurant company Restel, which is investing some €30 million in the project, to build a hotel with some 250 rooms next to Kemira's headquarters in Helsinki. If planning permission can be secured, then the trio will set to work this spring in the hope of completing the project before August 2005.

Quinn Group To Sell Two In Ireland Return to Headlines
The Quinn Group is reportedly poised to sell two of its five hotels in Ireland to help focus its vision on the further addition of up-market hotels to its portfolio. The group hit the headlines back in January when it acquired the 788-room Hilton Prague in what was claimed to have been the Czech Republic's biggest single asset transaction. Going under the hammer next week are the 44-room, four-star Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, Co. Monaghan, and the 29-room Ardboyne Hotel in Navan, Co. Meath; the three-star Ardboyne has planning permission in place for additional bedrooms and a spa facility. One report suggests that the Quinn Group can expect to realise a total of at least €13 million from the sale. In Dublin, meanwhile, the city council has given owner Ampleforth permission to extend the Best Western Royal Dublin Hotel in work costing some €15 million. The Irish capital has also given an official welcome to the 204-room Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport.

Bahraini Diplomat Is Larsen & Toubro's Bag Return to Headlines
India's leading engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has secured the US$15.6 million contract to build a 15-storey extension to The Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel in the Bahraini capital Manama. Rezidor SAS Hospitality secured the management rights to this extension last May. L&T has been given 77 weeks to complete the work and the final product in combination with the hotel will be known as The Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel and Executive Apartments. In Dubai, the Al Habtoor Group has formally agreed with Nakheel that it will bring a 250-suite, de luxe five-star hotel to The Palm, Jumeirah half of the Palm Island development. Elsewhere, Egypt is said to be one of the countries favoured by Turkish tourism firm Kayi Group as it looks to expand its hotel portfolio over the next three years in a US$500 million programme. In Turkey itself, meanwhile, hotel chain World of Wonders (WOW) will reportedly be building a 120-bed, five-star hotel as part of a mixed-use development in the southern city of Gaziantep.

Lodore Falls To Lake District Hotels Return to Headlines
Hilton International has sold the Hilton Keswick Lodore hotel to Lake District Hotels for an undisclosed sum. The 71-room property, which stands at the western end of Derwentwater, will henceforth be known as the Lodore Falls Hotel. But as one hotel departs, so another joins the portfolio. Hilton has named 13 April as the day when the 254-room, four-star Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, whose development has been fraught with difficulties, will finally open its doors. Southwest from there, Shearings Hotels has paid an undisclosed sum for the privately owned Strathmore Hotel in the Lancashire resort of Morecambe. The 50-room property had an asking price of £1.65 million. Down in Devon, Monarch Homes has applied for permission to demolish the Palm Court Hotel in Torbay and replace it with a 44-room hotel and a casino. And it would be entirely appropriate to turn green with envy in neighbouring Cornwall: Ocean Fish would like to build a 50-room 'eco-hotel' in its home town of Mevagissey.

Malmaison Rose As The Leaves Fell Return to Headlines
Marylebone Warwick Balfour (MWB) has published its results for the six months to 31 December 2003, thereby allowing us to check on the financial health of the Malmaison chain. The seven properties in the portfolio were struck down like so many by Gulf War syndrome but they had recovered by the autumn, running an occupancy of 80% and maintaining a steady average rate of £90. EBITDA returned by the Malmaison chain for the six months was 18.7% higher than the previous year's comparable, at £3.8 million. MWB noted that it was looking at the possibility of introducing Malmaison hotels into cities including Bristol, Cambridge and Belfast. News too of MWB's two five-star hotels in London; The Howard Hotel perked up just before Christmas with a peak occupancy of 90%, while the Marriott Park Lane recorded a stabilised occupancy of 80% and an average room rate of £190. These properties, together with the Radisson SAS Hotel in Glasgow, tripled their total EBITDA to £6.0 million.

Melisron Closes In On Ofer Offer In Budapest Return to Headlines
Reports suggest that Melisron is to acquire the Ofer Brothers Group's property portfolio in the Hungarian capital Budapest. The collection includes two hotels: the 218-room Le Meridien Budapest and the 220-room, three-star Pava Hotel. The properties though would not stray far if the potential transaction were to be concluded; Ofer Brothers already holds a 55% stake in Melisron and is seeking to take its share to 80%. Elsewhere in eastern Europe, Spanish chain Riu Hotels & Resorts will be venturing to Romania for the first time this summer when it opens two hotels – the four-star Hotel Riu Europa and the three-star Hotel Riu Astoria – in the Black Sea resort of Eforie Nord.

Kempinski On A Roll In Switzerland Return to Headlines
Kempinski Hotels & Resorts seems to be having a busy time of it in Switzerland. In November 2005 it will be opening the Kempinski Residence: 25 to 30 serviced apartments which will adjoin the Kempinski Grand Hôtel des Bains in the resort of St Moritz. The rest of the action is set in Le Mirador Kempinski, Lake Geneva, where six new luxury suites now occupy the entire first floor of the 81-room hotel. And you can reflect on all these additions as you pedal away on your bike in the hotel's new fitness club. Elsewhere, if you have overindulged in the confectionery that is one of Italian firm Pellegrino Marotta's specialities, then you can work it off at a spa resort that the company, in partnership with its compatriot Albano Terme, is to build on Isola Vulcano off the northern coast of Sicily.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 11/03/04-18/03/04

InterContinental Hotels Group - Despite Deutsche Bank's announcing that it had a 'Buy' rating on the stock based on full year results being ahead of expectation, the share price remained depressed after the Madrid attacks.

NH Hoteles - The share price tumbled in the wake of the terrorist atrocities in Madrid.

Sol Meliá - Sol Meliá, in common with NH Hoteles and so many operators in the tourism industry, saw a sharp fall in its share price after the Madrid attacks.