Briefs: MOHG to manage Beverly Hills residences; EIDL enhanced

UK set to scrap vaccine passports: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce his decision to ditch the implementation of vaccine passports and steps to end some emergency powers as part of his plans to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the winter months. Health Minister Sajid Javid said Johnson doesn’t anticipate further lockdowns and the vaccine passports to be introduced in the U.K., as the government is depending on vaccination and testing programs to defend the public. Javid added that he wanted to get rid of PCR tests for travelers. 

Rendering of Mandarin Oriental Residences Beverly Hills.

Mandarin Oriental to manage Beverly Hills residences: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Hong Kong, has entered into an agreement with owners and developers SHVO and Deutsche Finance America to manage and brand 54 luxury residences located on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California. Mandarin Oriental Residences, Beverly Hills, is slated to open in 2022 and is the group’s debut residence-only venture on the west coast of the U.S. The residences’ interiors and furnishings will be curated by 1508 London design studio. The property’s restaurant and rooftop lounge and bar will be helmed by Chef Daniel Boulud.

AHLA applauds EIDL enhancements: The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) applauded the White House’s decision to expand the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, providing qualified hoteliers with up to US$2 million per loan. Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, called it a huge step forward an fantastic opportunity for hoteliers to address commercial debt, operating costs and other expenses. The changes include raising aggregate loan cap to US$10 million, allowing 24 months of deferred payment, simplifying the affiliation rules and allowing use of funds to pay down prior commercial debt and scheduled payments on federal debt.

Kong stepping down at Best Western: Rumored for a few months now, BWH Hotel Group, Phoenix, Arizona, announced on Monday that President and CEO David Kong will retire at the end of 2021 with a successor set to be announced at the company’s annual convention on October 7. Kong has served in his role for more than 17 years, growing the company from one brand to 18 with 4,500 hotels in 100 countries. Under his leadership, the company has seen record EBITDA growth, and seen its cash reserves and net equity grow 10-fold, according to BWH Hotel Group.

Starwood buys in Copenhagen again: Starwood Capital Group has acquired the 399-room Comfort Hotel Vesterbro in Copenhagen from Norwegian billionaire Petter Stordalen’s Strawberry Hospitality Group for almost US$97 million. Nordic Choice Hotels will continue to manage the property. Starwood earlier this year bought from Strawberry the 288-room Skt Petri in Copenhagen.

London’s performance peaks: London saw the highest hotel performance levels in August 2021 since the start of the pandemic, as per preliminary data by STR.

  • Occupancy: 56.8%
  • Average daily rate (ADR): £112.58 (US$155.7)
  • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): £63.97 (US$88.47)

While absolute occupancy ad RevPAR levels peaked in the market since February 2020, ADR was the highest since March 2020. Simultaneously, performance remined well below the pre-pandemic figures from August 2019.

Limestone’s acquisition in Mallorca: PE firm Limestone Capital has acquired the 51-room former Mar Y Pins hotel in Mallorca, Spain. Seller and Austrian entrepreneur Harald Fischl will continue as minority shareholder and partner. Aethos Hotels & Clubs will renovate the hotel, while Barcelona’s Astet Studio and Mallorcan architect Beatrice Ballesteros will work on the hotel’s design.

Dubai’s performance improves: Dubai’s hotel performance in August 2021 went up from last month, based on preliminary data from STR.

  • Occupancy: 58.4%
  • Average daily rate (ADR): AED373.61 (US$101.7)
  • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): AED218.32 (US$59.43)

All the three performance metrics will come in lower than the pre-pandemic figures from August 2019: occupancy- 67.9%, ADR- AED380.68 (US$103.63) and RevPAR- AED258.52 (US$70.37).

Oscars Hotel Group’s Brisbane acquisition: Oakwood Hotel and Apartments, the riverside hotel in Brisbane, was acquired by the Oscars Hotel Group, owned and operated by brothers Mario and Bill Gravanis, for AUD50 million (US$36.75 million). The former Adina Brisbane Hotel, which consists of 162 rooms across 11 floors, was offloaded by Singapore-based Mapletree Investments, which had purchased the property for AUD48 million (US$35.28million) in 2015. Wayne Bunz, CBRE Hotel’s national director, negotiated the deal. The hotel is expected to undergo major renovations.

Australia’s performance declines: Lockdowns and rising COVID-19 cases pulled down Australia’s hotel performance, according to STR’s preliminary August 2021 data.

  • Occupancy: 30.8%
  • Average daily rate (ADR): AUD163.22 (US$119.97)
  • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): AUD50.33 (US$37)

Occupancy levels were the lowest  in the country since May 2020. Four capitals and two states in the country were in lockdown throughout August, which adversely affected performance. Across the top destinations, each of them reported sub-50% occupancy in August. Although generally muted, small peaks in occupancy are likely in September, driven by school holidays and events like the AFL Grand Final in Perth.

ADIA seeks to sell Sydney hotels: Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the sovereign wealth fund owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is reportedly looking to sell two of its Sydney hotels which could raise about US$500 million. The hotels — IBIS Sydney Darling Harbour and Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour — together have roughly 780 rooms and will be the last ones to be divested from a 31-asset portfolio that ADIA purchased in 2013. ADIA sold 15 Australian hotels in 2016 to Accor Hotels for A$200 million (US$147 million), which were part of the 31 properties the sovereign wealth fund had purchased from Sydney-headquartered Tourism Asset Holdings in 2013.

Iranian hotels suffer billions in losses: Iranian hotels and other accommodation centers have incurred losses worth 202 trillion Iranian rials (US$4.7 billion), with two-thirds of hotel staff having lost their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iranian Hotel Association said. The association’s chief referred to a new scheme introduced by the country’s tourism minister which mandates travel insiders to design affordable packages to kickstart stagnant domestic tourism. The tourism ministry had been considering plans to reopen borders to vaccinated tourists from across the world after international arrivals plunged 94% since last year.