Check in! – hotel highlights across EMEA

The Blue Swan Daily brings you a round up of the latest key hotel news from across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

  • Airbnb opens door to traditional hotels with Siteminder partnership
  • easyhotel sees opportunities for further growth; adds Milton Keynes to its UK pipeline
  • Rebound in Russia demand helps boost Dubai hotels in Jan-2018
  • Hilton’s ‘The London Gantry’ adds to its Curio Collection
  • Belfast’s new Grand Central Hotel on track for Jun-2018 opening

Airbnb opens door to traditional hotels with Siteminder partnership
In an obvious example of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ traditional hotel providers could soon be permitted to list their properties on the airbnb platform that has rivalled them since its entry to market. As part of a technology partnership with Siteminder the home-sharing website and app will open its distribution to more than 28,000 hospitality providers, including a range of boutique hotels and B&Bs. This is not the first time that these forms of accommodation have listed on Airbnb, but previously these had been done as independent listings and not through a third-party distribution service. The new partnership with Siteminder will officially go live from 01-Mar-2018, but a select number of hotels have already been listed to test the service. This is likely to be the first of a number of agreements Airbnb is expected to close this year as it further expands its offering, which could soon see chain hotels being listed on the site.

easyhotel sees opportunities for further growth; adds Milton Keynes to its UK pipeline
Budget hotel specialist easyHotel has acquired a 125-year leasehold of part of Norfolk House on Silbury Boulevard, a central site in Milton Keynes as it further expands its property inventory. The development has already received planning permission and the acquisition will be completed subject to planning being finalised at the end of the judicial review period. The Group intends to convert its part of the building, centrally located in the town centre, into a 124-bedroom hotel, which is expected to open by mid-2019 at a total cost of approximately GBP8.7 million. easyHotel’s seven owned hotels (all in the UK) currently comprise 702 rooms, and it has a further 19 franchised hotels (in the UK and across Europe) with 1,641 rooms. The Company’s has a committed development pipeline of seven owned hotels with 941 rooms. These consist of properties in Barcelona (its first owned property outside of the UK), Ipswich, Leeds and Sheffield (all due to open in summer 2018), plus Cardiff, Oxford and now Milton Keynes, which remain subject to final planning consent. A further ten franchised properties are in development including examples in Iran and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). easyHotel’s strategy is to offer “comfortable, affordable accommodation in key tourist and business locations in the UK and internationally,” and it says it “continues to see a good number of attractive potential development opportunities,” both in the UK and Europe to further accelerate the Group’s growth. These, it claims, “are both larger and more numerous than we had originally anticipated” and it is thus considering finance options to fund more hotel investments.

Rebound in Russia demand helps boost Dubai hotels in Jan-2018
Preliminary data from benchmarking specialists STR for Jan-2018 indicates occupancy-driven performance growth at hotels in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the first month of this year. Based on its daily data for Jan-2018, STR reports a +3.6% rise in supply, exceeded by a +5.5% growth in demand and a resultant +1.5% rise in occupancy to 86.4%. This has delivered Dubai’s first January rise in revenue per available room (RevPAR), up +1.0% to AED703.89, since 2014, but average daily room rates slipped -0.6% to AED814.51. STR says demand was aided by a fast-rebounding Russia source market, especially in beachfront properties and notes year over year supply growth is actually the lowest for any month since Nov-2012.

Hilton’s ‘The London Gantry’ adds to its Curio Collection
Hilton has signed a franchise agreement with The Gantry Group, a joint venture between Black Friar Holdings and a GBP1.1bn institutional investor that will deliver The London Gantry, an 18-storey Curio Collection by Hilton hotel with 285 guestrooms. The property, which will include extensive neighbourhood bar and restaurant spaces and also a sky bar with views across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and beyond to London’s dramatic skyline. It will be situated opposite Stratford International Train Station, Westfield Stratford City shopping centre and within easy access of London’s Excel and O2 arenas in East London, one of the capital’s fastest growing business and leisure districts. Launched in 2014, Curio Collection by Hilton is a collection of what it describes as “remarkable upper upscale hotels handpicked for their unique character and personality”. The Gantry London will join two Curio Collection by Hilton hotels in London, the trading Trafalgar St. James, Curio Collection by Hilton and the new Lincoln Plaza London, Curio Collection by Hilton, which is expected to open in 2018.

Belfast’s new Grand Central Hotel on track for Jun-2018 opening
With 300 bedrooms and 23-storeys high the new Grand Central Hotel will be Northern Ireland’s largest hotel and promises to bring a new era of modern luxury to Belfast. The property, part of the Hastings Hotels empire is “running to schedule,” reports marketing director, Julie Hastings, with only four months until the GBP53 million property opens its doors. Inspired by the original Grand Central Hotel on Royal Avenue, Ms Hastings says the hotel will “blend timeless design, classic service and true style fused with glamour and grandeur – simply beautiful, beautifully simple”.