Featured in this EMEA Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 18 March 2005
Whitbread Heads For The Four-Star Exit Doors
Stardon Is To Buy Hilton's 11 UK Hotels
Rezidor SAS And Carlson Move Closer
Wallstreet Raises Park Plaza's Stock In Berlin
McBride Wedded To The Hempel
Golden Tulip And Fattal Join Up In Eilat
Press F6 And Launch A Luxury Hotel Chain
Budget Response From Travelodge
How The Days Fly
University's Challenge Is To Find An Operator For A Teaching Hotel

Whitbread Heads For The Four-Star Exit Doors
Whitbread's statement of last Friday teased the transaction tastebuds to awaken them in time for the main course served up on Monday: an announcement of the company's intention to sell its portfolio of Marriott-franchised hotels. Earlier plans for a 'sale and manageback' deal have been left to go cold, with Whitbread instead inviting Marriott International to the top table to help with a new recipe. The pair have formed a 50:50 joint venture into which 46 of the 51 four-star hotels Whitbread owns and manages will be placed. This joint venture, which should be finalised by 5 May, will hold the hotels – they are all in the UK and total 8,102 rooms – until they are sold; Whitbread envisages a sale being concluded within two years. Potential purchasers will buy on the understanding that Marriott International, which assumes managerial responsibility for the hotels in the joint venture, will hold a long-term management contract on all properties after the sale. Whitbread is entitled to dip into the pot on 5 May to withdraw £710 million, £400 million of which will be returned to shareholders. The company expects the sale to raise at least £1 billion.

Stardon Is To Buy Hilton's 11 UK Hotels Return to Headlines
Hilton Group has exchanged contracts for the sale of 11 hotels (1,405 rooms) in the UK that went on the market last November. Sometime within the next five weeks Stardon UK, a joint venture formed between US real estate investment firm Starwood Capital and Scotland's Chardon Hotels, will acquire the properties for their net book value of £111 million. Chardon Hotels' portfolio in Scotland will grow from four properties to seven with the addition of the 189-room Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor, the 101-room Hilton East Kilbride, which stands on the outskirts of Glasgow, and the 206-room Hilton Dunblane Hydro. Highlights south of the border include the 72-room Hilton London Mews and the 144-room Hilton Leeds Garforth.

Rezidor SAS And Carlson Move Closer Return to Headlines
The onset of spring would seem to be stirring long-term hotel partners into feelings of renewed fondness. For example, last week Colony Capital showed it cared by investing €1 billion in Accor. The title of dewy-eyed couple of the week for this week goes to Rezidor SAS Hospitality and Carlson Hotels Worldwide. The pair have dug out their master franchise agreements for the EMEA region and remembered the years when they inscribed their initials: in 1994 on the agreement covering the Radisson brand and in 2002 on the one for the brands Regent, Park Inn, and Country Inns & Suites. Carlson wants to express its commitment to its partner and its thanks for the progress that Rezidor SAS has made in growing the brands by extending the terms of the current deal by 20 years to 2052. In return for this kindness, Carlson will receive from the SAS Group, if and when the deal completes (and this is expected to happen in the first half of 2005), a 25% stake in Rezidor SAS Hospitality.

Wallstreet Raises Park Plaza's Stock In Berlin Return to Headlines
What will be a fourth hotel in the German capital Berlin for Park Plaza Hotels Europe (PPHE) is at present the Wallhöfe office building. However, PPHE, having signed a rental agreement with the building's owner Deutsche Immobilien Fonds AG (DIFA), is now beginning the task of transforming the property into the de luxe four-star Wallstreet Park Plaza. The 167-room hotel will open in spring 2006 as the flagship for the Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand in the city. Elsewhere in Germany, Maritim Hotels has made its first visit to the western city of Düsseldorf, where the 533-room Maritim Hotel Düsseldorf at the city's airport should be finished by the end of 2007.

McBride Wedded To The Hempel Return to Headlines
The lights at The Hempel may perhaps have burnt a little later this St Patrick's Day, for the new owners of the 40-room designer hotel in west London are an Irish consortium led by Michael McBride. He and his fellow private investors are said to have paid a total of £16.5 million for the hotel and a set of six apartments nearby. O&H Properties put the hotel up for sale last December with an asking price of a reported £12.5 million. Though it is a little early to start thinking about the first day of Christmas you could at least fulfil part of the plan for a present for your true love by purchasing The Pear Tree Inn & Country Hotel. The privately owned 24-room property near the Worcestershire spa town of Droitwich has planning permission in place for an additional 46 guest rooms and an asking price of around £5.25 million.

Golden Tulip And Fattal Join Up In Eilat Return to Headlines
The opening this April of the Golden Tulip Eilat will mark the culmination of renovation work costing US$3 million on the former Paradise Club Hotel in the Israeli resort of Eilat. The 280-room property is born of a second union between Fattal Hotels and Golden Tulip Hotels; the Israeli chain has been operating the Golden Tulip Privilege Dead Sea since 1999. By the time the Golden Tulip Eilat opens, the town of Hacibektas in central Turkey will already be reverberating to the sound of the cement mixer. Reports from the country suggest that Hey Turizm will be spending US$5 million on the construction of a 120-room, four-star hotel that is due to open in the second half of 2006.

Press F6 And Launch A Luxury Hotel Chain Return to Headlines
The Financial Times reports that French architect and designer Philippe Starck, examples of whose work may be seen in the likes of the Sanderson and St Martins Lane hotels in London, has decided that he would like a luxury hotel chain of his own. Starck International Hotels & Resorts will be funded by Saudi royal HH Prince Faisal bin Fahad bin Abdullah Al Saud through his investment vehicle F6. The newspaper notes that the pair aim to open ten hotels over the next five years, with the cities of London and Paris, and the emirate of Dubai said to be among the possible locations.

Budget Response From Travelodge Return to Headlines
Travelodge, which currently lies in second place in the UK budget hotel sector behind Premier Travel Inn, has indicated its determination to narrow the gap on its rival by launching a programme of expansion designed to double the size of the company's current portfolio by 2011. The chain hopes to open 2,500 rooms in 2005 and the same number in each of the subsequent six years using some of the money raised in the £400 million sale and leaseback deal on 135 properties that Travelodge concluded towards the end of last year.

How The Days Fly Return to Headlines
To follow Cendant Hotel Group Europe's recent progress around the UK all you need is a knowledge of flight paths. Fresh from a trip to north Essex to open the 60-room Days Inn Stansted Airport, the company has taken its current taste for airport hotels to south Wales, where the 36-room Days Inn Cardiff has touched down. Make sure your radar is tuned in next month when we will be tracking Cendant as it heads for Luton Airport to open the Days Hotel Luton.

University's Challenge Is To Find An Operator For A Teaching Hotel Return to Headlines
How does one select an operator for a teaching hotel? By choosing the one who presents the rosiest apple, perhaps? It is a question occupying minds at Bournemouth University on the south coast of England. The university wants to build a 200-room, four-star property next to the Bournemouth International Centre and open it in 2007 as what the university claims will be the world's first fully commercial teaching hotel. If in trying to find an answer you have given yourself a headache, then you perhaps need to relax at a beauty spot. It might be wise to avoid Watermead Park, near Syston in Leicestershire, though, for the summer could bring developer Raynsway Estates and with it its plans to build a £40 million 150-room, five-star hotel.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 10/03/05-17/03/05

Choice Hotels Europe - Market hopes that the company is moving forward after a period of transition have helped raise the share price recently.

Whitbread - Deutsche Bank joined many analysts in thinking that Whitbread's proposed disposal was a good move. Deutsche Bank keeps it 'Hold' rating but raises its target price from 925p to 1,000p.

NH Hoteles - Smith Barney lowered its rating from 'Buy' to 'Hold' apparently on concerns about growth and shareholder remuneration.