Europe's luxury hotels change hands

Europe's luxury hotel scene has seen some notable investment in recent weeks: Starwood Hotels & Resorts has sold The St. Regis, Rome to subsidiaries of Constellation Hotels Holding Limited for an estimated $150.7 million. Starwood will continue to operate the hotel under the St. Regis brand flag as part of a new long-term management agreement.

“The sale of The St. Regis, Rome further advances Starwood’s asset-light strategy as we continue to seek the right owners and partners to create value for our shareholders and focus on growing our global fee business,” Simon Turner, president of global development for Starwood, said in a statement. “With the benefit of favorable market conditions, we are seeing strong interest in our remaining assets from a broad array of investors around the world.”

Subject to obtaining the required administrative authorizations, Constellation Hotels Holding will complete further renovations to hotel, including upgrades to all 161 guestrooms and suites and a redesign of the restaurant and lounge. In addition, improvements will be made to the hotel’s lobby, meeting space, business center and exterior façade.

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The St. Regis, Rome was originally opened as the Grand Hotel in 1896 by hotelier César Ritz. Following a $35 million refurbishment completed in 2000, the hotel became the first St. Regis to open in Europe.

In Germany, meanwhile, Kempinski Hotels is boosting its alpine resort portfolio: The hotel group is set to take over the Berchtesgaden International Resort, currently managed by InterContinental Hotels Group. A management agreement has been signed by Kempinski and the Bayerische Landesbank, which owns the resort hotel. The five-star hotel in the Berchtesgadener Land is scheduled for take-over in the first half of 2015. 

In a statement, Markus Semer, Chief Group Development and Corporate Affairs Officer at Kempinski Hotels, said that the Bavarian hotel would complement the brand's existing alpine portfolio in the region, which includes the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz in Switzerland, and Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol in the Kitzbühel Alps in Austria. “The signing of this property is in line with our development strategy to focus on Europe, particularly on Germany, and underlines Kempinski’s management expertise in alpine destinations in the luxury segment," he added. "There is also an ideal link between this hotel and the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski in Munich, given the short distance between the two properties.”

And finally, the Irish Times is reporting that Goldman Sachs will acquire a portfolio of loans from Ulster Bank connected with a number of high-profile Irish hotels.

It is understood the global investment bank has emerged as the preferred bidder in the sale, which is part of Project Nadal, a plan to sell a portfolio of loans and assets across hotels, pubs and hostels on both sides of the Border by Ulster Bank.

The loans are thought to have had a face value of about €200 million.

The hotels associated with the loans include the Radisson Blu Hotel at Golden Lane, near St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin; the Radisson Blu Hotel at Dublin Airport; the Hilton Hotel in Kilmainham, close to Heuston Station; the Arlington Hotel at Lord Edward Street, Dublin; and the five-star Merchant Hotel in the centre of Belfast.