Major hotel companies are dusting off their growth plans in the face of the nascent recovery in tourist flows around the world. While waiting for the return of travel to pre-crisis levels to be confirmed, companies are beginning to catch their financial breath, after more than a year and a half of economic suffocation, and are again presenting new projects. Only among the four biggest in Spain (Meliá, NH, Barceló and RIU) add 50 new projects between the rest of the year and 2022.
The most active is Meliá, the first hotel company by size, which plans to open up to 22 hotels in 18 months, still far from the price levels of the pandemic, in which the average opening was 26 per year (a every fifteen days) . . Six openings are pending for the rest of the year, including two to Asia-Pacific, two to Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), one to Spain and one to America. Cruising speed will be reached in 2022, with 16 openings, including 9 to EMEA, 4 to Asia-Pacific and 1 to Cuba and Spain, respectively. A common denominator of this growth is that Meliá is giving up ownership of new hotels and will only operate them with management, lease or franchise contracts. Of the 22 planned projects, 18 will be in the business model. Another relevant fact is that once the investment plan is completed until 2025, Meliá will have 39 hotels in the Asia-Pacific area, more than in America (37) and Cuba (36).
Although it is suffering with particular virulence from the collapse of urban and business tourism, NH also wants to take advantage of the downturn in tourism to continue its growth, as it has agreed with the Thai group Minor, which owns 94 % of shares. Minor will drive growth in Asia and NH in Europe and America. A plan that will also promote the integration of the NH brands in Asia and those of Minor (Anantara, Avani and Tivoli) in Europe and America. Of the 19 projects signed for the next quarters, 8 will be destined for America (3 in Mexico, 2 in Peru, 2 in Chile and 1 in Argentina) and 8 others for Europe (4 in Italy, 3 in Germany and 1 in Europe). The other three are shared between Spain, Portugal and France.
The Balearic giant RIU, with 99 hotels in its portfolio, also wants to give a boost to its internationalization projects closer in time, slowed down by the coronavirus health crisis. In March, the Riu Palace Santa María hotel opened in Cape Verde, while the Riu Plaza Manhattan Times Square in New York will open in the fall. The company’s other two milestones focus on April 2022 when the first hotel in Senegal is planned, while the Riu Plaza (the urban brand that defines large 500-room hotels) in London and Toronto will be completed in 2023. To all these projects must be added 49% of the ownership of the 21 hotels that it bought in May from TUI for 670 million, which will provide future capital gains in the event of asset disposals.
Like Meliá, Barceló hopes to strongly pick up the pace of investments after the pause suffered since March 2020. It expects to end this year with 13 openings, including 5 in Spain. Among internationals, the entry into Sri Lanka stands out with the opening of two hotels, one inaugurated on September 1 and the other scheduled for November 1.. It will be just the first step in an expansion plan for this region of the world, which includes the management of two newly built hotels in the Maldives, scheduled for the end of 2022, and another three-building complex on an atoll in The Maldives.
Palladium and Hotusa
Palladium, the channel now run by Abel Matutes Prats after his father handed over management, is also set to expand. After opening two hotels in Sicily and one in the Balearic Islands in the first half of the year and inaugurating the first urban hotel of the Only You brand outside Madrid, more precisely in Valencia, is about to inaugurate another Only You in Malaga on October 8 and will reopen the luxury hotel of the Bless brand in Madridwhich will continue its activities after being acquired by the Mexican RLH Properties, also owner of the Villa Magna hotel. In 2022, it plans to import its luxury all-inclusive model to the Caribbean, with the TRS Hotels brand, in Ibiza.
Hotusa has also reactivated its growth plan. After integrating 16 hotels so far this year, it will open 5 more in the last quarter (Logroño and Burgos in Spain and Budapest and 2 in Lisbon). For the following years, he signed six openings, four of which will go to Spain.
The recovery in tourism has not only reactivated the investment plans of hotel chains, but also has whetted the appetite of large investment funds to enter the sector and it even led large business groups away from tourism to try their luck at this turning point.
Among the funds, note the operation carried out by the Canadian Brookfield, which bought a portfolio of four establishments (Sofia Barcelona, Expo Barcelona, Don Carlos Resort & Spa in Marbella and Mare Nostrum Resort in Tenerife) from the Selenta group for 440 million euros before the summer with serious debt problems. Among the new players stands out El Corte Inglés, which is renovating two buildings on Calle Goya (Madrid) to open what will be its first hotelwhich will have 113 rooms and an initial investment of approximately 7 million euros.
The three hotel giants in the United States have once again put Spain in their sights. The most relevant operation is Hyatt’s decision to buy Apple Leisure Group (ALG) for 2,300 million euros. ALG will end this year with 47 hotels in Europe, including 44 in Spain. A step that brings the number of properties in the EU closer to those in the US (57) and from which the new owner will benefit.
Marriott has 97 establishments in Spain, the 9.8% of the total it has in the region made up of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ahead of Spain, only the United Kingdom appears, with 110 establishments. Behind are Germany (94), Italy (62), United Arab Emirates (61), South Africa (57), France (54) and Saudi Arabia (32). To this figure we must add the four with which it will close this year: two of them will be in Seville, the third in Tenerife and the fourth in Ibiza.
Hilton announced last week the opening of two hotels in Spain: one of the Canopy urban brand, the fourth in Europe, with 314 rooms, and another of the Hampton by Hilton brand in Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona), with 241 rooms. The two operations are threefold: Hilton defines the brand, Barceló and Panoram operate the hotels in Madrid and Barcelona, owned by HIP and Borealis.