Hotel Investors Switch Their Focus To Spain’s Second Cities

20 July 2017 – Expansión

Hotels have become of the star assets of the real estate sector with Socimis and investment funds lining up to buy them. And the forecasts show that these actors are set to consolidate their presence in Spain, gaining ground on the hotel groups – which will continue their commitment to a strategy focused increasingly more on management and less on ownership – and will analyse new secondary locations, in light of price rises and the decreasing yields in prime cities.

According to the Hotel Asset Management 2017 report, prepared by Magma HC, three-star hotels captured the attention of investors last year, given that they represent the most attractive asset for implementing repositioning models and improving prices. Specifically, 38% of the transactions closed in 2016 involved three-star hotels, 28% related to four-star properties, 24% to low-cost establishments and the remaining 9% to five-star hotels.

Albert Grau, Managing Partner at Magma HC, explained yesterday that the transaction market will shift its focus to the holiday segment, over the next few months, due to the (high) value of assets in prime urban destinations, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, San Sebastián and Palma de Mallorca, which are at levels that compromise their future profitability.

Although in previous years, the urban hotel market was the most sought-after by investors, in 2016, it accounted for just 33% of operations, whereas the holiday segment increased to account for 66% of the total. “Prices in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona have peaked, and purchases to generate wealth or profitability are complicated given the numbers”, said Grau.

By contrast, he considers that Spain’s secondary cities offer “great opportunities” for investors thanks to the significant potential that they hold and the fact that there are well-located assets there at “very attractive” prices.

However, the partner at Magma HC considers that the sector is a long way from a bubble, thanks to the greater professionalisation and the new requirements in terms of indebtedness levels.

Moreover, the report highlights that the Spanish hotel sector can expect to see new operations between hotel groups, such as between Starwood and Marriott, Fairmont and Grupo Accord and the purchase of Sidorme by B&B Hotels.

Commitment to rent

In terms of the business model, the most popular formula is still rental. Grau underlines that, given the strong performance of the market, owners who took the decision to bet on variable rentals are now receiving greater returns. In addition, the partner at Magma HC believes that the period of rent renegotiations, seen in previous years, is now over.

According to Magma HC’s report, hotel groups own 37% of their assets, lease 33% of them, manage 18% and operate 13% as franchises.

Grau explains that “more Anglo-Saxon” operations – management and franchising – are not growing, but continue to have a specific weight in the market and there is a growing trend to adopt them increasingly more, in line with international standards.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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