26 July 2016 – El Confidencial
Beset by debt, the Salazar family, the former owner of SOS-Cuétara, has spent the last three years trying to get rid of its vast hotel and real estate empire, an emporium whose last great jewel was the Gran Hotel Velázquez in Madrid, a property for which it has just received an irresistible offer.
Corporacion Hispano Hotelera, the company owned by the Salazar-Bello family, has reached an agreement with the Didra Group, famous for having constructed the luxurious residential areas of Montepríncipe and El Encinar, to sell the property for €63 million, according to several sources close to the deal.
The Ardid Villoslada family, which is behind Didra, has been linked to the property development business for decades and was made famous due to the marriage of one of its members, Rafael, to Mariola Martínez Borduí, the granddaughter of the dictator Francisco Franco. One of their sons, Jaime Ardid Martínez Bordiú has closed this agreement, with a view to opening a luxury 5-star hotel.
On 23 August 2016, Corporación Hispano Hotelera will present this sale for approval by the General Shareholders’ Meeting, with the aim of wrapping up the final sale in January, once the Salazar family has also received the blessing from its creditor banks, led by Banco Popular.
With its privileged location, in the heart of the neighbourhood of Salamanca, just a stone’s throw from the Retiro Park and the capital’s golden mile, the Gran Hotel Velázquez is a sought-after establishment. Nevertheless, it needs to be completely refurbished, according to experts in the sector.
In fact, Didra is expected to invest between €15 million and €20 million refurbishing the property. It plans to retain the image of a more bourgeois Madrid that characterises it, and always under the maxim of reserving the right to manage it, meaning that the Ardid family’s plans do not include opening a large hotel chain.
Didra maintains a close relationship with brands such as AC and NH, with which it operates some of the properties in its hotel group Nevertheless, the plans that the Ardid family have in mind for the Gran Hotel Velázquez more closely resemble the concept of the Hotel Palacio de Villapanés in Sevilla, a 5-star property located in the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz, in a former seventeenth century palace, which Didra manages itself.
With this sale, Corporación Hispano Hotelera will be reduced to an empty shell, after selling off the majority of its hotels in just over two years. The house of cards first started to topple in the Spring of 2014, when it had to close down Hotel Ada Palace, located on Gran Vía in Madrid, after it was evicted by the owner of the property, Real Gran Peña, which denounced the company for not paying the rent.
A year later, Hotusa purchased the Hotel María Elena, located 50m from Puerta del Sol, and renamed it the Eurostars Casa de la Lírica; meanwhile, Platinum Estates acquired the Hotel Asturias, in Plaza de Canalejas for €21.5 million. (…).
Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)
Translation: Carmel Drake