Featured in this EMEA Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 29 April 2005
Lehman Brothers And Starwood Capital Target Le Meridien Deal
Mystery Shopper Buys Six Thistles
In West Africa Where The Tulips Grow
Peacock Proud To Display Golden Tulips In Romania And Moldova
Raffles' Prize Is A First Trip To Dubai
From Berkshire To Egypt With Millennium & Copthorne
De Vere Group Flies Off To Spain
Queens Moat Houses Nominates Nine For Sale
Whitbread: A Year To Remember
Accor's Generally Good First Quarter
Swallow Seen Twice In The Garden Of England

Lehman Brothers And Starwood Capital Target Le Meridien Deal
Lehman Brothers and Starwood Capital Group Global have formed a joint venture for the prospective purchase of all of Le Meridien’s owned and leased hotel portfolio with the exception of the Forte Village on Sardinia, which is of interest to an unnamed affiliate of Lehman Brothers. If the joint venture is successful in its quest, then Starwood Hotels & Resorts would acquire the Le Meridien brand and its management and franchise business. In addition, Starwood Hotels would take up the management of the 36 owned and leased properties acquired by the joint venture, although all of the hotels would continue to fly the Le Meridien flag. Le Meridien expects that if all necessary approvals can be obtained then the deal could be completed in the third quarter of 2005.

Mystery Shopper Buys Six Thistles Return to Headlines
BIL International was not revealing who the purchaser was, but whoever it was is now £185 million lighter in the pocket but six hotels the richer. Thistle Hotels has struck a sale and leaseback deal involving five of its hotels in London, which together have a total of 1,066 rooms: the Thistle Hyde Park, Thistle Euston, Thistle City Barbican, Bloomsbury Park and the Thistle Piccadilly. They are joined in the deal by the 143-room Thistle Edinburgh in Scotland. Thistle Hotels has taken a 30-year lease on all six.

In West Africa Where The Tulips Grow Return to Headlines
Golden Tulip Hotels Nigeria has been given some money and told by its creators – Golden Tulip Hotels, The Lionstone Company and Lagos-based W Hospitality Group – to go forth into western Africa and over the next five years multiply the number of hotels in the region bearing the Golden Tulip or Tulip Inn brand. The Golden Tulip Accra is the solitary flag-waver there at present, so the hotel will no doubt be delighted to hear that Ghana, along with Nigeria, will take most of the minimum of seven hotels that the new company wants. These hotels will be either newly built or existing properties.

Peacock Proud To Display Golden Tulips In Romania And Moldova Return to Headlines
The Golden Tulip Bucharest in Romania is another member of Golden Tulip’s lonely hotels club band. The problem of loneliness in eastern Europe though should be erased by Peacock Hotels, which has been given the task of franchising the Golden Tulip brand not only in Romania but also in neighbouring Moldova. Peacock will take the lead by converting the hotels it manages in addition to offering the franchise to suitable third parties. Golden Tulip Hotels hopes to have as many as 12 hotels signed up by the end of 2006.

Raffles' Prize Is A First Trip To Dubai Return to Headlines
The United Arab Emirates has the honour of being the first country in the Middle East to welcome Raffles International ashore. The company’s management contract with Dubai-based Wafi Group paves the way for the opening in 2007 of the 240-room Raffles Dubai at the mixed-use Wafi City development. Dubai has also tempted Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) into making what is its fourth visit. KHI has teamed up with IFA Hotels & Resorts to invest up to US$200 million in the Fairmont Palm Hotel & Resort on The Palm, Jumeirah. The hotel, which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2008, will have approximately 400 rooms. Dubai’s diary for 2008 will show that it can expect The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company that year too. The 330-room Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre will be the company’s second hotel in the emirate.

From Berkshire To Egypt With Millennium & Copthorne Return to Headlines
Millennium & Copthorne announced in February that it would sign management contracts as one means of driving the expansion of the Copthorne brand in the UK. True to its word the company has done just that in the case of the Kirtons Farm Hotel in Reading, Berkshire. Proffering the fountain pen was businessman John Madejski, who has signed up M&C twice before. The 81-room hotel covered by the contract was formerly part of the Hanover International portfolio and it will be rebranded as the Copthorne Hotel Reading after refurbishment. The company has been in Egypt too, where it has signed a management contract with Sharm Tourism Investment Group covering a 350-room, five-star hotel that will open in the resort of Sharm el Sheikh either in late 2006 or in early 2007.

De Vere Group Flies Off To Spain Return to Headlines
De Vere Group has left the shores of the UK for the first time and set a course for southeast Spain. Its destination was Murcia where Roda Golf and Beach Resort was waiting with a management contract, which entitles De Vere Group to manage, for 20 years initially, a 150-room hotel, spa, 18-hole golf course and beach club – known collectively as De Vere Roda – that will open in mid 2008. The contract allows De Vere Group to add a timeshare facility to the resort if it so wishes and grants it exclusive rights to manage – again, only if it so wishes – a golf resort hotel that is expected to open in the Spanish town of Corvera in 2009.

Queens Moat Houses Nominates Nine For Sale Return to Headlines
Queens Moat Houses has decided to sell nine of its hotels in the UK. So if you would like to purchase any of these hotels, which will be sold unencumbered by Moat House branding and management, then these are the places you will need to visit: Bedford, Cardiff, Northampton, Nottingham, Telford, Watford, West Bromwich, and two towns in Essex: Harlow and Grays. The Times suggests that the collection, which has a total of some 1,200 rooms, could fetch between £100 million and £110 million.

Whitbread: A Year To Remember Return to Headlines
Whitbread’s eventful financial year closed on 3 March 2005 with pre-tax profit up 17.8%, at £249.4 million, and sales 6.8% higher, at £2.1 billion. It was a year which saw the acquisition of Premier Lodge and its integration with Travel Inn; the portfolio returned like-for-like sales growth for the year of 6.4% (the figure excludes Premier Lodge and exceptionals). RevPAR across the former Travel Inn hotels was up 5.6%, at £35.14. It was a year which closed with the company’s announcement that it was to exit from its Marriott portfolio; rather mischievously perhaps, the portfolio chose 2004/05 to return its first growth in like-for-like sales (3.5%) since 2000/01. RevPAR here was 6.8% higher, at £53.75. Whitbread’s new year opened with the execution of a promise made in the old: that it would be selling its Maredo restaurant business. A consortium comprising German Equity Partners II, Parcom Ventures and Fortis Private Equity has agreed to pay €35.6 million for Maredo, which has 54 outlets in Germany and four in Austria.

Accor's Generally Good First Quarter Return to Headlines
It might be as well at the moment not to overuse the words ‘February’ or ‘Easter’ in any conversation you may have with Accor. The month had one day fewer this year than last and the notoriously erratic Easter took its holidays in March this year, when last year it chose April. The capricious calendar suppressed Accor’s revenues for the first-quarter to March; instead of like-for-like growth of 5.4%, the company had to settle for a like-for-like rise of 3.8%, to €1.7 billion. Accor classed its performance in the quarter as ‘generally good’ and reserved praise for its economy hotels, which saw like-for-like revenues rise 4.5% in the USA and 3.5% elsewhere.

Swallow Seen Twice In The Garden Of England Return to Headlines
Swallow Hotels has swooped to purchase two three-star hotels in the English county of Kent. It has paid Delaquest, a wholly owned subsidiary of Corus Hotels, a total of close to a reported £5.75 million for the 52-room Larkfield Priory Hotel in Maidstone and the 47-room Falstaff Hotel in Canterbury.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 21/04/05-28/04/05

Accor - Deutsche Bank maintained its 'Buy' rating as first-quarter results came into line with expectations. Shares across the French market though were affected by concerns for the US economy.

Hilton Group - The FTSE-100 suffered from worries about the US economy, though broker Seymour Pierce upgraded its rating on Hilton from 'Hold' to 'Buy'.

Whitbread - The share price tumbled as Whitbread expressed its fears that consumer confidence was lower. Deutsche Bank keeps its 'Hold' rating.