Milan-based LHM Hotel Management Company, which has finalized an agreement for the start-up and pre-opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Milan and which also manages the Ramada Plaza Milano, has other projects in the pipeline, including a new hotel opening planned for Venice in 2020.
During the Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum, Oct. 17-19 in Athens, the Agora Hour will be a time for delegates to network, have informal meetings, and hear about upcoming developments, including LHM's Venice Urban Resort. Before the conference, LHM's CEO and owner, Cristina Paini, shared her insights on the property and her thoughts on Venice's appeal for development.
1. What would you say are the major trends in hotel investment and development in Italy?
The Italian Hotel Market has experienced an increase of 14.6 percent compared to 2016, and 2018 is keeping the same pace, with a 13-percent growth, according to [real estate research firm] Scenari Immobiliari.
This new wave of both international and domestic investors is boosting new developments focused on energy-efficient buildings, a more flexible organization of common areas inside of hotels (“social spaces”) fit to be lived, tech-centric buildings and rooms and attention to environment.
Also, apartments are a new trend as part of the hotel inventory proposal, more than serviced apartments: hotel-pampered apartments.
One last trend I would like to mention is overtourism that some Italian destinations are facing, such as Venice, some areas of Rome, Capri, etc … this trend is now leading investors to re-think the destination itself and also to discover and develop new destinations.
2. What markets (destinations and asset classes) are you focusing on?
Prim[ary] and secondary locations in Italy, such as Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, Turin, Verona, Bologna. [We see opportunity in] four-star hotels and mixed-use hotels.
3. What emerging destinations are catching your attention in Italy or in the Mediterranean?
Talking about secondary cities, I would mention Verona, Bologna and Trieste. I’m also confident that Genoa will have a new renaissance.
In terms of leisure destinations, Apulia keeps on growing its presence on the international tourist market, Sicily as a whole, and the lakes (Lake Garda, Lake Como) also are growing as a destination.
4. Tell us about the project you’ll be presenting at MR&H?
Venice is more than what we usually know. Venice is also luxury surroundings where all the aristocratic families used to stay, living in astonishing villas facing the Naviglio del Brenta.
Nowadays, this is not just a historic area, but also an area where manufacturing is at its utmost, the high end of “Made in Italy” in terms of fashion, manufacturing, design, etc.
In this environment, a huge, mixed-use complex will be developed that will feature different hallmarks: retail, offices, convention center, residential and, of course, a resort.
The resort will introduce a new concept of hospitality in the area and will be perfectly embodied in the environment, energy-saving-wise. It will have 150 rooms, a conference center, a fitness area and a park surrounded by Naviglio, with a private dock.
5. What are the major challenges or requirements when working on a development that includes hotel, retail, offices and more?
Working to promote the destination as a whole, the challenge is keeping the different souls of the development but working together.
6. What or who inspires you in the hospitality world?
Every single person that puts his creativity and passion in this wonderful sector. I happen to travel a lot and [I am] positively surprised about the details, the attention and care that some hoteliers put in their work and environment. The human factor appeals to me a lot in our industry and it will be a key feature for our future to build on, especially with more and more AI emerging in hotel management.
7. What is your ideal holiday experience?
Relax, discover the destination and live my new environment
8. What are you most looking forward to at MR&H this year?
Introduce our new project and philosophy to a selected investor audience and find new partners for our new projects.