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Inflation and the ECB's decision to raise interest rates at the end of 2022 have led investors to take a wait-and-see approach and, before launching new projects, they are monitoring the impact of rising capital costs on property pricing.

Although Assoturismo-Cst reported over 400 million certified overnights in 2022 (+38% compared to 2021), the hotel investment sector has not been able to maintain the growth path begun two years ago.

A 40% rise in the first six months

After an enthusiastic first half of the year, that closed with €755 million in transactions (+40% compared to the same period of 2021), the sector literally froze, states the Pambianco Observatory. This trend applied not just to the hotel sector, but to Italian real estate in general, with investors backing down, and the fourth quarter closing with fewer than half the transactions recorded in the previous year. With the high expectations for hotel investment recovery scaled back, total hospitality transactions in 2022 ended around €1.4 billion, a 20% drop from 2021.

Asian investors are looking for opportunistic discounted assets

In cities such as Milan, Rome, Florence, and Venice trophy assets are the top choice despite a very limited supply. Most European investors are expected to focus this year on core properties in Italy. On the other hand, a few Asian are ready to increase their investments in our country, focusing on opportunistic discounted assets so as to redevelop and reposition them pending an economic recovery.

The growing importance of the digital economy

In 2022 some 43% of registered investments went on four single asset deals, including prime resorts and operations in central locations of large cities. This year structural elements such as an increased emphasis on building sustainability, changes brought about by the growing importance of the digital economy, and the search for quality of living environments will influence the market. The new real estate cycle will thus be defined by three major factors: urban regeneration, space hybridization, and sustainability.

Published in Business

The Ritz Carlton will open a new hotel in Bellagio on Lake Como in 2026, thanks to an agreement signed by the Marriott International group and the hotel owner Grimit. 

The property is nestled between the two branches of Lake Como

The former Hotel Grande Bretagne will be converted into 59 rooms and 46 suites, with a wellness centre, an indoor pool, restaurants, and meeting and event spaces. The expansive lakeside park and gardens will include a meditation area, a large outdoor swimming pool, and a private jetty for easy access to other lakeside destinations. Located just outside the town of Bellagio and nestled between the two branches of Lake Como, the plan for the property will be one of the most significant expansion projects in the Lake Como area in recent years.

“Our family is deeply connected to the Lake Como area, and we are proud to be behind the The Ritz Carlton's debut in Bellagio,” says Emanuele Galbusera, president of Grimit. 

 

“The arrival of the Ritz-Carlton makes Lake Como even more appealing”  

“The arrival of the Ritz-Carlton in Bellagio, for the first time in Italy, makes Lake Como even more appealing,” says Marco Comensoli, head of hotels & leisure at Colliers Italia. “It was necessary to find a brand that could make the most of a prestigious property in one of the world's top tourist destinations.”

Published in Hospitality

The Pif Saudi sovereign wealth fund looks to be ready to acquire 49% of Rocco Forte.

Pif is expected to take over 23% from CDP and a further 26% from the shareholding family

According to the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper, Riyadh's Public Investment Fund has beaten off an industrial operator (Lvmh according to other rumours. Ed.) in the race to select a new financial partner for the company. The operation started the end of the year under the guidance of Rotschild, and it seems that Pif is preparing to pay €76 million for the 23% acquired by Cdp Equity in 2014, to which should be added a further 26% stake directly taken over from the shareholding family. The group’s overall valuation is said to exceed €1.2 billion, well above the almost €350 million estimated at the time of Cdp's entry.

Sir Rocco Forte’s company owns 14 hotels and 1,500 keys

But things have changed a lot in the last eight years. Back then Sir Rocco Forte's company, which will continue to retain control after Pif's entry, was under financial pressure, and it had grown a lot, especially in Italy, moving from three to seven properties. Today the group has 14 hotels and 20 villas with more than 1,500 keys, plus 42 bars and starred restaurants. And other projects are said to be in the pipeline. 2022 closed with a turnover of around €340 million and gross operating margins of some €68 million.

Published in Hospitality

Ventimiglia’s new marina will have quality facilities for tourism including a residence and hotel complex consisting of a 5-star hotel with 70 rooms and 60 top-of-the-line apartments.   

Creating an exciting new tourist hub

The €60 million hotel and residence investment is part of a larger urban redevelopment project encompassing the entire Ventimiglia marina. Work is expected to begin next year and be completed in 2026 on the Borgo del Forte project which is being developed by the Marina Development Corporation (Mdc). The aim being to create a new tourist destination on the city's seafront on the western Ligurian Riviera, with an international reach but an Italian vocation. 

Borgo del Forte

A sports and leisure complex

Borgo del Forte Campus will be a large international educational-sports and leisure campus with an important multifunctional area. The complex, which will be open to the public all year, will include an indoor pool, a gym, services, and a club house, as well as a space for indoor and outdoor activities, and tennis courts. The heart of the Campus will be a multi-level building next to the sports centre that will house an international school. A former train depot will be converted into a congress centre and the campus will have access to over 3,000 sqm of parking.

Borgo del Forte

The new hotel will reflect Liguria’s nature and charm

“The new hotel will reflect the Ligurian landscape’s naturalistic appeal and the charm of the upper city with a new port and the elegance of Italian design,” says Giuseppe Noto, CEO of Mdc.   Borgo del Forte is contributing to Ventimiglia's overall urban regeneration by reclaiming abandoned areas such as the waterfront for uses such as tourism and sport.”

Published in Hospitality

Sono Travel Club, Destination Italia's luxury brand, has been joined by Relais le Marne in Piedmont. 

Famous for wine, truffles and the world’s best hazelnuts 

Through its subsidiary Destination 2 Italia, the Italian traveltech signed a partnership with the Piedmontese Relais Le Marne, a few days after the new partnership with the Castle of San Michele in the Viterbo area. The property is already available on the Stylitaly platform, the recently established startup of which Destination 2 Italia is the relative majority shareholder. Relais le Marne is located in Costigliole d'Asti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its wine, truffles, and the best hazelnuts in the world. 

Dining in an ancient vaulted cellar

The complex is set in vineyards and consists of two renovated farmhouses with 12 rooms furnished by leading designers. Each room is inspired by or dedicated to a famous poet or artist like Primo Levi, Cesare Pavese, Guido Gozzano and Paolo d'Altan. There is also a 25-metre indoor swimming pool, and a spa and gym with views of the surrounding vineyards. The Radici Restaurant is in an old vaulted cellar with a terrace overlooking the vineyards, and chef Marco Massaia extolls the raw materials of Piedmont's history. The hotel also includes the Mura Mura winery, a children's playground, and a helipad.

Published in Hospitality

The five new Italian entries in the les Collectionneurs 2023 guide bring to 540 the travel experiences in eleven different countries in this year’s edition.

A total of 71 new entries this year

The les Collectionneurs guide this year includes 71 new entries, including the five in central-southern Italy.


"Despite last year's economic trend, tourism has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels and we have added many new properties, including several in Italy," says Carole Pourchet, general manager of les Collectionneurs.

 

A maison de charme near Rome

The Italian selection is represented by 64 hotels and 33 restaurants and the first new addition is in Piglio on the outskirts of Rome. This maison de charme will soon open after renovations on an old farmhouse and have six exclusive suites, a heated swimming pool, a winter garden, and the Terra Restaurant. 

A boutique hotel in Naples’ Chiaia district 

Also a few kilometres from Rome, in the village of Ariccia the Sintesi Restaurant, which this year was awarded with a Michelin star, is elegant and helmed by the young chef Sara Scarsella with Matteo Compagnucci. In Naples the Metro900 Boutique Hotel is in the Chiaia district and owned by Martina Delisio.

A boutique hotel themed on botany

Moving further south to Puglia the Palazzo Tafuri, a recently renovated boutique hotel now belongs to Antoine and Ghislaine d'Espous who oversaw restorations. Each room takes its name from a medicinal plant in honour of Vincenzo Zimara, the town’s well-known herbalist and pharmacist and has works by artists passionate about botany. Finally, in Sicily there is the Accursio Restaurant of chef Accursio Craparo, with refined cuisine in a 7th century building.

Palazzo Tafuri on the Map 

Published in Hospitality

Italy has the most fragmented hotel market in Europe. Chains struggle to take off here because we are too individualistic, and our hotels are too small and too old to be attractive to those who think in terms of brands.

How many times have we heard these or similar statements at conferences and round tables? Yes, there is some truth in it but Italy, like any social reality, is not an immobile monolith. Things change, so while the penetration of chains in Italy is still low in absolute terms (about 6.6% of all hotels), when it comes to rooms the perspective is very different from before. Just ten years ago the share of hotel rooms managed by hospitality groups was 13.3%, today it is 19.7%, Quite a revolution for a sector that is now much closer, in terms of dynamics and composition, to the models of neighboring European and English-speaking countries.

The data comes from an analysis by the consulting firm Thrends. From 2013 to 2022 chain hotels grew from just over 1,300 to 2,100 (+59%), while rooms increased from 146,000 to over 210,000 (+44%). The penetration rate of groups, in terms of properties, has therefore risen from 4% to 6.6%, while in terms of rooms the jump, as we said earlier, has been more marked, going from 13.4% to 19.7%. In other words one hotel room out of five in Italy today belongs to, is managed by, or is branded by a chain.

At the same time the average size of branded hotels has dropped from 110 rooms in 2013 to 100 today. This is mainly due to the proliferation of lifestyle brands, which are less rigid when it comes to size, and therefore more suited to the Italian real estate and hospitality model. There is also increasing pressure on Italy from global players. Today there are 152 international brands present in Italy, compared to just 75 ten years ago which means a growth of 100%. Hotel groups here have risen from 138 to 264, and 72% are Italian.   


Massimiliano SartiMassimiliano Sarti
Journalist

Published in Editorial

Shortly before the opening of the first Italian Six Senses, scheduled for Rome on 16 March, news has come in of a further Italian development project for the IHG brand. 

Banco Bpm and Gruppo Statuto have recently finalized a structured finance agreement for €495 million, with the support of Gwm Group and Arecneprix, the asset management and structuring company of the illimity group. The project involves the Palazzo del Toro in Piazza San Babila and the opening of a 5-star luxury hotel in Via Brera 19, also in Milan, to be managed by Six Senses.  

The Statuto group will finance the development of the Brera property through the sale of the Piazza San Babila asset which was  acquired in 2005 for €230 million by Pirelli Re and Morgan Stanley.  Arecneprix, which acted as arranger for the transaction, was also entrusted with the asset management and special servicing of the securitization, while Finint acted as the sponsoring bank for the new finance and is master servicer of the securitization vehicle. 

The Statuto group already owns some of Italy's most prestigious hotels, including the Four Seasons, the Mandarin and the Rosewood Milan, as well as the San Domenico Palace in Taormina, the Ginestre in Arzachena, the Danieli in Venice and two more hotels under construction: the Edition Rome and the W Hotel Milan. 

Six Senses is preparing to inaugurate a third Italian property in Umbria, a golf resort in Antognolla, spread over 600 hectares, inside a 12th century castle owned by the Russian tycoon Andrey Yakunin which has been under construction already for two and a half years and estimed to be a €150 million investment with 71 rooms, 79 residences and a spa.

Published in Business

For Autentico Hospitality, the pandemic is firmly behind them as they focus on 2023, and year-on-year comparisons rather than using 2019 as a benchmark. 

Autentico Hospitality’s bookings are in line with 2022

“2022 was a record year for us – says the CEO of the Florentine company, Mario Cardone . - Especially in the high-end segment, thanks in particular to the return of American visitors. And the forecasts for 2023 also seem to be positive: “Inflation-related fears seem to have abated and bookings are substantially in line with those of the same period last year,” he says.  

"5-star family-run establishments, because this is in our DNA."

Autentico Hotels, the luxury brand of Autentico Hospitality, has two new entries: the 5-star Palazzo Ripetta which reopened in Rome last December after renovations, and the Sardinian Le Dune Piscinas, a 28-room property directly on the beach. With the two new entries, the collection has a total of 16 hotels: "All 5-star, family-run establishments, because this is in our DNA."

The Prestige Collection also has villas, mansions and farms

The Prestige Collection, on the other hand, has eighteen hotels. Launched a couple of years ago, it brings together 4 and 5-star properties, as well as upmarket non-hotel accommodation such as villas, mansions and farms. Here, there are also a couple of new entries: the Roman all-suite Le Reve de Naim in Piazza di Spagna, and the 4-star Vannucci in Città della Pieve, owned by the Wirth family, which also owns the Hassler Hotel in Rome.

“Each year we meet over a thousand agencies and tour operators globally”

“The mission of our group – concludes Cardone – is to act as accelerators on the medium-high market, which has a potential equal to at least 25% of the total turnover of the properties with which we collaborate. For this, through a series of targeted actions, each year we meet over a thousand agencies and tour operators globally."

Published in Hospitality

Wellness is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in mountain destinations. And Blu Hotels, having posted a record 2022, on even higher levels than in 2019, is focusing on wellness with a series of innovations aimed at meeting the new needs of guests.

“Wellness is no longer just a niche market” 

“We started with the Blu Hotel Natura & Spa in Folgaria: a 40-room hotel where we expanded the external area with outdoor pools and saunas,” says Manuela Miraudo, Blu Hotels’ events and communications manager. “And the Blu Hotel Acquaseria in Ponte di Legno's wellness area will be expanded in the near future. Even before the pandemic the trend was clear. It has, however, been accentuated by Covid: guests, particularly to our mountain resorts, are increasingly looking for relaxation in which the wellness component assumes great importance, it is no longer just a niche market.” 

Blu-Hotel-Natura--Spa
Blu-Hotel-Acquaseria-Ponte-di-Legno


Ph credits: Blu Hotels

Increasing commissions for travel agencies

Blu Hotels has a portfolio of 30 hotels, spanning Lake Garda, Sardinia, Puglia, Tuscany, Calabria, and the mountains. Tourism operators, who account for approximately 20% of sales and are the focus of a special programme called Be a best partner, play an important role in its distribution strategies.



“We recognise increasing commissions for travel agencies based on turnover performance compared to the previous year,- says Manuela Miraudo. - Blu Hotels also organises ad hoc educational events for domestic and international trade partners.” 

 

Collaboration with leading film production studios

“Last year the MICE demand was the best year ever, - concludes Manuela Miraudo. - Blu Hotels hosted a German film crew and another production in Puglia thanks to our collaboration with production studios like Netflix. Corporate demand remains strong, even if the last minute still reigns supreme even when it comes to incentives.”

Published in Hospitality
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