Hand Picked Hotels records £3.9m loss, as Starwood deal recedes

Hand Picked Hotels, the country hotel chain, made a loss of £3.9m last year. The company, which is owned by private equity tycoon Guy Hands and his wife Julia, runs 21 luxury hotels in Britain.

Although the loss represents a lower figure than last year’s £9.1m loss, it comes as Hands recently missed out in the £360m auction of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chains and a reported attempt to buy a package of 15 regional hotels from Starwood Capital has run into the sand. The £120m deal is thought to have collapsed after a long period of exclusive negotiations.

Starwood has yet to comment officially whether it still has the business on the market. It had appointed Christie & Co in February to put the properties up for sale, including 11 properties within De Vere Venues. Starwood has built up a mixed collection of hotels and conference venues in recent years since acquiring the 23-strong Principal Hayley group for £356m in 2013 and, in 2014, the De Vere Venues Portfolio for £231m and Four Pillars Hotels for around £90m.

A City source told CN: “This is a privately held business with deep pockets but even so this is a business that should not be in the red given the strong recovery that has been reported by its competitive set. If it is true that the Starwood Capital deal has collapsed it will be interesting to see who Hands targets next given his formidable track record of executing acquisitions on a buy and build platform”.

Aside from the acquisition trail, Hand Picked has put two properties on the market.

The Priest House Hotel in Castle Donington, Derbyshire, which has a function suite, is up for sale at £3.25m, while the Seiont Manor Hotel in Snowdonia, North Wales is on the market for £2m.

Julia Hands, chairman and chief executive of Hand Picked Hotels, said: “The Priest House is an attractive property in a lovely setting but it does not fit fully with the Hand Picked aspiration of an historic country house hotel. We also have a concentration of hotels in the Midlands, with gaps elsewhere geographically which we would like to fill.”

The 28-bedroom three-star Seiont Manor Hotel sits in 22 acres of grounds and has conference and function facilities. Hands said this property did not fit in with the group’s strategy as a four-star hotel collection.

Topland Group, meanwhile, has this week unveiled the new Hallmark Hotel brand, the next step in its objective of building a £1bn hotel business.

Following the acquisition of Hallmark Hotels and Menzies Hotels, Topland Group is bringing all 20 properties together under a new and extended Hallmark Hotels brand, from this month.

The Hallmark London Chigwell Prince Regent will be the first hotel to undergo the new look.

Executive Chairman and CEO of Topland Group Sol Zakay, said: “Whilst ensuring consistently high standards are maintained across the existing portfolio, Topland will continue to operate with a mandate to seek out properties of similar quality with the objective of building a £1bn hotel business.”

Topland director Lionel Benjamin added the group would be making additional investment in new technology. “We are looking forward to expanding the Hallmark Hotels portfolio and plans for the next phase are underway.”

Topland Group also owns The Feathers Group of Hotels, The Royal Crescent in Bath, five Thistle hotels in London and one in Edinburgh, Hilton Glasgow, Hilton Brighton Metropole, and Ramada London Gateway.


Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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