English Riviera hotels attract foreign investment

The Palace Hotel, Torquay recently changed hands in a reported £7.6-million deal. (The dropping value in the sterling and the opening of the South Devon Highway have attracted foreign investment. )

The hotel industry in of the resort towns in Torbay, Devon, England—often called the English Riviera—is making its way back on the map following the opening of the South Devon Highway and the plunge of the sterling's value. According to devonlive.com, foreign investors, primarily Far Eastern, South African and Indian buyers, have been making multi-million dollar purchases in English Riviera hotels recently. 

“The prospects for tourism on the English Riviera have been improving, as has the Bay's economy, since the opening of the highway,” Laurence Murrell, MD of the TLH Leisure Resort group of hotels and chairman of the English Riviera BID, told the site, noting new investment and intention to invest from existing operators. “Last summer was a particularly strong one which helped boost confidence and certainly at the moment the exchanged rate has helped going into this season.” 

A Singapore-based group's investment in Torquay's Palace Hotel is the latest vote of confidence in the rising tourist destination. It follows a string of investment in Bay hotels, which total more than £67 million. These include the purchase of the resort's biggest businesses and employers and the first new hotel built in the Bay in decades. The four-star Palace Hotel on Babbacombe Road sold for a reported £7.6 million as it prepares for its peak season. Previously, the Imperial hotel sold for £12.5 million while the Palace Hotel, Paignton, the Headland Hotel, Torquay, the Queen's Hotel in Paignton sold for a combined £12.5 million. 

The proposed cost of the 60-guestroom Harbour Hotel, the 43-guestroom Torquay Marina residence's parking lot and the renovation of the Pavilion as the hotel's "front of house" is £32 million. Also, a hotel, to which Hilton Hotels has been linked, is reportedly in the works as part of a development on Torwood Street. Murrell added, “Looking ahead, assuming the developments like Torwood Street and the Harbour Hotel happen, and the people who have bought the hotels continue to invest, I think the area is well set up for the next decade."

The Kistor Hotel was recently converted into the Belgrave Sands Hotel and Spa for £3 million.

There are currently eight hotels under new ownership: 

Imperial Hotel, Parkhill Road

The Brownsword Hotel Group bought this 152-guestroom hotel on Parkhill Road for £12.5 million. The group also owns the Clarence Hotel in Exeter and the Gidleigh Park near Chagford.

Palace Hotel

A Singapore investment company purchased this four-star hotel on Babbacombe Road, Torquay for a reported £7.6 million. It has 141 guestrooms and employed 80 staff.

Torquay's Headland Hotel, Paignton's Palace Hotel, Queens Hotel 

The Duchy Hotel Group sold these three hotels, which have over 200 rooms and about 150 employees combined, to a South African company. 

Kistor Hotel 

The Duchy Group acquired this 50-guestroom hotel on Belgrave Road and invested £3 million in converting the hotel into the Belgrave Sands Hotel and Spa. 

Harbour Hotel and Torquay Pavilion 

The Nicolas James Group is in the final stages of receiving approval to develop its high-rise hotel and residences, which will include renovating Torquay Pavilion for £32 million as the front of house. The hotel will have 60 guestrooms and 43 apartments. 

Torwood Street Properties

The That Group has proposed to redevelop the Torwood Street properties into a hotel. Hilton Hotels is reportedly interested in the development.