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Big hotel chains are growing in Italy (+6.4%)

13 February, Il Sole 24 Ore

Big hotel chains in Italy are expanding and consolidating, especially for what concerns those of the medium-high range, thanks to the growth of tourism. In 2018 the number of hotels belonging to hotel chains (namely groups consisting in four hotels or more) reached 1,600 properties (+6.5% from 2017) for approximately 172 thousand rooms in total (+4.7%). These figures correspond to 4% of the total hotels and to 15.8% of the total rooms. There are currently 240 brands, 143 of which are domestic brands, the remainder is international. The data are taken from the sixth edition of the report  “Hotels & Chains” by the consulting company Horwath which was presented during the event organised by Confindustria Alberghi at Bit in Milan.

The Italian hospitality market is composed of 32,988 hotels and over 1 million rooms. And the demand continues growing. “We expect to reach 1.4 billion visitors globally”, said Confindustria Alberghi president Giorgio Palmucci, who also made his debut as freshly-elected Enit president. “Italy continues being the first destination searched on Google around the world”, stated Furio Gianforme, Travel Industry Head for Google Italia. As Cbre recently announced, there are plans for new investments, after the company invested 1.321 billion last year in the hotel segment. Cbre expects in 2019 “a solid growth and investments by international companies, including large hotel chains”.

Hotel chains are playing a crucial part in raising the level of the offer higher and, in the meanwhile, in consolidating a sector which is still fragmented in many small properties, most of which are family-run and directly managed. In France, hotel chains represent 21% of the total, 33% in Spain. Italy is still behind. However, “the quota reaches 50% in the five- and four-star segment. That’s where hotel chains are growing the most”, said Giorgio Ribaudo, project manager for Horwath. “The sector will develop in the direction of five- and four-star hotels. According to the outlook, by 2022 there will be  120 new hotels and 15,700 more rooms belonging to hotel chains”.

Starhotels is one of the most dynamic hotels. The Howarth report places the company first in Italy in terms of sales. “We closed 2017 with 200 million, and the accounts for 2018 have reported an additional growth between 4% and 7%”, said Starhotels general director Enzo Casati. For the 2018-2020 period, the brand from Florence has budgeted investments in renovation works for about 16 million euro on various prime properties.

By the first quarter of 2020, the company plans to open a new hotel for 200 rooms at Fico Eataly World in Bologna. “Always in 2020, we will open in Milan a luxury residence with view on Duomo. The property will be composed of various penthouses of 145 Sq m, addressing the emerging demand for apartments”. Another player in the industry is Una Hotels (Unipol). This year, the company will inaugurate Principi di Piemonte in Turin and a new four-star hotel in Milan by 2020.

Blu Hotels is another very dynamic company. The Brescia hotel chain owns 30 facilities including resorts and four- and five-star hotels with investments for 15 million euro distributed between remodelling works and new openings. Blu Salento Village, managed by Blue Hotels, will re-open this year. The property is owned by the fund Fit of Cdp Sgr (acquired for 23 million). Furthermore, the fund of Cdp in 2018 invested 150 million between direct acquisitions, shares and renovation works. The directly-owned resorts are six at present. “We’ve already identified the seventh asset. We’re about to close the deal”, said Alessandro Belli, head of the real estate-tourism for Cdp Sgr. Among the new brands, there are Lindbergh Hotels, a spin-off of Eden Viaggi, the tour operator which was sold to Alpitour. The brand will be directly developed by Eden founder Nardo Filippetti, who is still in charge of the hospitality division.

Source: Il Sole 24 Ore

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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