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Is London Primed for More Hotel Openings?

March 18, 2015

Well, that didn't take long. Less than a month after Sahara Grosvenor House Hospitality failed to pay debts on the J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel in London and put the property up for sale for £500 million, Hyatt Hotels Corp. is reportedly looking into purchasing the historic hotel, Hotel Management reports.

A spokeswoman for Hyatt said the company "is currently focussed on careful expansion in European gateway cities and hopes to open a Park Hyatt in London in the future." Hyatt also owns the Andaz at Liverpool Street Station and the Hyatt Regency off Bond Street in London.

This past week also saw another notable London deal: Qatar Airways purchased the Sheraton Skyline hotel by (appropriately) Heathrow Airport. The hotel will continue to be managed by Starwood under the Sheraton brand. The deal is significant, Breaking Travel News notes, because the Sheraton Skyline is the first hotel to be bought by Qatar Airways outside of Qatar, where it owns the five-star Oryx Rotana Hotel in Doha and runs the new Hamad International Airport Hotel. Qatar Airways has embarked on a strategy to expand into the hotel business, and is looking to add further hotels in North America, the United Kingdom and beyond.

The Heathrow area also saw a UK debut this week: Leonardo Hotels has opened its first property in the United Kingdom after signing a new 25-year lease with The Standard Life Investments Pooled Pension Property Fund, Breaking Travel News reports. Opening in the former Holiday Inn on Bath Road, the 230-room hotel has been re-branded as the Leonardo Hotel London Heathrow Airport. Saar Sharon, chief executive, Leonardo Hotels UK, is leading the group’s expansion in the UK. Other cities with Leonardo Hotels include Antwerp, Berlin, Bruges, Budapest, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich, as well as across Israel.

These deals offer a strong portrait of London's hotel future: As the Evening Standard notes (citing PwC), occupancy rates in the city are poised to hit a 20-year high of 84 percent this year, with average nightly rates ticking up to £144.

More than 6,000 new rooms are in the city's pipeline, which will bring the total to almost 136,000 rooms. Even though exchange-rate swings could deter some short-break tourists coming over from the Continent, London & Partners forecasts that the capital will host 2.7 million more international and domestic visits this year compared with 2013.

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