Investor appeal grows despite declines in Barcelona's hotel performance

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, Spain. Photo credit: Mandarin Oriental (Mandarin Oriental Barcelona)

Investor appeal for Barcelona is expected to remain strong, despite restrictions on new developments and uncertainty after the Catalan independence referendum. 

A report from global hotel consultancy HVS London showed that demand for Barcelona as a leisure and MICE destination surged following the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. The growth in demand drove hotel rooms numbers in the city to rise, most notably at four-star hotels. 

However, the restrictions on development in the city as a result of a moratorium on development passed in July 2015, an extension passed in 2016 and the Special Tourism Accommodation Plan's passage in 2017, resulted in a pipeline of only six hotels with 1,000 new guestrooms opening within the next two years. Meanwhile, existing hotels also saw a boost in performance in response.

"With supply growth in Barcelona now severely limited and demand continuing to grow the city’s hotels have inevitably seen an increase in occupancy levels and a rise in average rate,” Magalí Castells, associate, HVS London, said in the report. 

Revenue per available room in Barcelona grew 3.7 percent in 2015, and increased another 10.7 percent the following year to €111. Room rates also increased to €316,000 per room in 2017, surpassing the record reached in 2016. 

The Catalan independence referendum on Oct. 1, 2017 hit Barcelona's hotel performance hard. The double-digit RevPAR growth achieved in the months up to September dropped significantly in the months after. The year managed to end with positive performance results, despite the declines.

“The city’s political situation has impacted the property investment sector, which could cause deals to slow down or even stop if it continues,” Sophie Perret, director, HVS London, said in the report. “However, while the moratorium and the PEUAT policy could potentially dent some investors’ appetite for Barcelona, continued demand for hotel rooms means we are strongly optimistic that the city will remain a key source of investment for both global and intra-regional investors.”