Industry news

Xenia Hotels & Resorts divests two hotel properties

25 November | Business management

Xenia Hotels & Resorts has completed the divestment of two hotel properties as part of its efforts to strengthen its balance sheet.

The sale included the 245-room Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, Massachusetts for $113m, and the 492-room Renaissance Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas for $70m.

The company has also retained $6.6m in cash that was held in the properties’ Furniture, fixtures, and equipment reserves. Xenia chairman and CEO Marcel Verbaas said: “We are pleased to have completed both of these transactions in an efficient manner.

“Year-to-date, we have now sold four hotels for nearly $400m. These dispositions have allowed us to efficiently raise a significant amount of capital at a superior cost to other alternatives.

“Additionally, we have successfully increased our balance sheet flexibility to help position the company to be opportunistic as the recovery takes hold.”

The company plans to use the proceeds to reduce its debt as well as for general corporate purposes.

Overall, Xenia Hotels & Resorts owns 35 properties which include 10,012 rooms across 15 states.

An affiliate of The Axton Group bought the Renaissance Austin Hotel. The new owner plans to upgrade the public areas and meeting rooms of the hotel.

Axton founder and CEO Peter Oberndorf said: “It is now our responsibility to reposition and enhance this property, guiding it on a path of recovery and ultimately leaving it in a better place than we entered.”

24 November | Hotel openings

Accor to open 112 properties over two years in expanded MEA region

­Hospitality group Accor is set to open 112 properties in the next two years in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, which now also includes India and Turkey.

Currently, the expanded region now features 400 hotels with more than 84,000 rooms. Once Accor opens the properties in the pipeline, the portfolio will include around 110,000 rooms, making it one of the largest international hospitality operators in the region.

Particularly, the company is expected to open 34 locations in the Middle East, 61 in Africa, 13 in Turkey and seven in India in the next 24 months.

Accor Middle East & Africa, Turkey and India CEO Mark Willis said: “Our expanded portfolio of more than 35 brands across the entire market spectrum – economy, midscale, upscale, and luxury – is a catalyst for growth in the region; it means we have a range of hospitality options for every project in every destination.

“The addition of Turkey and India to our already diverse region means that we will be able to consolidate the existing relationship and work that has been accomplished over the years and centralise it into a collective effort.

“It is in a strategic but natural move that we are integrating India and Turkey to our portfolio with long-term plans in sight for the future of the region.”

24 November | Hotel openings

Hyatt announces opening of Thompson Dallas in Texas

Hyatt Hotels has announced the opening of Thompson Dallas, a lifestyle hotel located in the historic building of The National in the US state of Texas.

The hotel reopened following the $460m restoration of The National, a George Dahl-designed building.

Thompson Dallas is the brand’s first property in Texas. It features 219 rooms including 52 suites, two penthouse suites and two restaurants.

The hotel also features a spa and fitness centre, which is set to open in January next year.

Other facilities will include a two-acre indoor and outdoor space, resort-style pool, an outdoor deck and bar, private cabanas, pet concierge and grooming centre among others. The hotel is designed by Caroline Todd of Todd Interiors and Cindy Zelazny of Interiors Limited. Merriman Anderson Architects also supported the interior design works.

Thompson Dallas general manager Steve Shern said: “Modern-day Dallas represents a global destination for culture, gastronomy and entertainment, and Thompson Dallas personifies the evocative spirit and refined edge of one of The Lone Star State’s most sophisticated cities.

“This is a historic moment for Dallas, and we are proud to welcome guests, World of Hyatt members, customers and the Dallas community to experience Thompson Hotels’ unparalleled guest experience.”

Established in 2001, Thompson Hotels is a boutique lifestyle hospitality brand of Hyatt Hotels. Earlier this year, the company opened 225-room Thompson Washington DC, its first property in the US capital.

23 November | Occupancy

Abu Dhabi reports increase in hotel occupancy in 2020 Q3

Abu Dhabi in the UAE has witnessed an increase in hotel occupancy in the third quarter as tourism sector registers growth in activity.

The revenue of the hotel sector in the emirate grew by 46% in the third three-month period of the year compared to the second quarter.

The guest numbers also increased by up to 95% in the same period, local news websites reported citing a Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) statement.

DCT Abu Dhabi acting undersecretary Saood Al Hosani was quoted by the news reports as saying: “Despite the profound disruptions caused by restrictions to public mobility, the positive indicators we have seen in the third quarter of this year are a testament to the agility and adaptability of Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry in response to the evolving market landscape.”

The statement also reported an increase in flight bookings and mall footfall, further indicating a gradual recovery in tourism sector.

The tourism sector was one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with several governments implementing lockdowns and placing restriction on international travels.

However, the emirate undertook several steps to revive tourism in Abu Dhabi. The steps included the Go Safe Certification for hotels to regain customer confidence.

The programme was launched across all hotels in the emirate. In the third quarter, 93 hotels secured full certification, reported Gulf News.

23 November | Deals

Wheelock Street Capital acquires Hotel Contessa in Texas

Private real estate investment firm Wheelock Street Capital has acquired Hotel Contessa, an independent hotel located in the city of San Antonio, Texas, US.

Situated at 306 West Market Street, the 12-storey hotel features 265 rooms. It has 10,000ft2 function space, a rooftop pool, a full-service restaurant and bar, as well as a spa, among other facilities.

The property also offers direct access to several cultural destinations in the city.

With the acquisition now complete, Wheelock plans a complete overhaul of the ground floor restaurant and bar in the coming months.

HEI Hotels & Resorts, a national hotel operator, will take over the management responsibilities under Wheelock’s ownership.

Wheelock Street Capital Hotel Investments principal and director Tim Hodes said: “The property’s historically strong performance, superb location, and superior quality in a top leisure-driven market was a perfect match with our current acquisition criteria and provided us the conviction to execute during an uncertain time in the capital markets.

“We look forward to achieving success at another quality asset with our partners at HEI.”

Notably, this is Wheelock’s first hotel purchase since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also the company’s first property in San Antonio market.

Founded in 2008, Wheelock focuses on real estate investment opportunities across the country. The company is said to have raised more than $4bn in capital commitments from institutional investors.

20 November | Hotel openings

Kimpton Hotels opens new property in Nebraska, US

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has announced the opening of the 205-room Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, US.

The Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel, a $75m reinvention of the 1915 Blackstone Hotel, is the brand’s first hotel in Nebraska.

Global design firms LEO A DALY and DLR Group have renovated the property, which offers five food and beverage concepts, 13,500ft² of meetings and event space.

Other amenities offered include two grand ballrooms, a seasonal resort-style swimming pool and pool club, a solarium and a rooftop terrace.

The pool club has been programmed to create a dynamic, year-round social experience.

Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel is managed by hospitality company Pivot Hotels & Resorts and offers a personalised, social travel experience.

As part of the renovation, hand-carved terra cotta columns, a marble staircase, original tile and hardwood flooring, and all of the hotel’s 800-plus windows have been restored.

Guest rooms of the hotel, including 31 suites feature serene finishes, a warm colour palette and classic European Revival details.

The rooftop terraces and Schimmel ballroom are optimal for larger social and business events and the 300ft2 Fitzpatrick Boardroom is ideal for smaller gatherings.

Image Credit