Alay de Benalmádena Hotel’s Owners to Invest €3 Million in Renovations

9 October 2018

The company that owns the hotel will end its contract with the Catalan group Ibersol, taking direct control of the hotel’s management.

The Alay de Benalmádena hotel will undergo a major investment of approximately three million euros in the coming months by which it plans to improve its facilities, especially its general electrical, water and air conditioning networks. The hotel’s management announced the plan yesterday, stating that the construction that will be executed next year will be “a new phase” in the hotel’s 50 years of operation since it opened its doors in 1964.

According to Juan Ramón Montoya, the architect who will carry out the renovation, the €3-million investment will be very focused on upgrading the hotel’s systems, especially air conditioning. “We want to make the hotel more sustainable, so there will be another series of renovations to our water supply and boilers, as well as our protection against fire,” he explained.

It is not, however, the first renovation to be carried out since the hotel’s inauguration in the 1960s. “There have been other interventions on several occasions, including an important one in 2015, which was more focused on the modernisation of our facilities and room design,” he added. This second phase will upgrade the internal networks and “some rooms, out of 250, that are still pending,” he clarified.

Mr Montoya stated that the construction is expected to start at the beginning of the year and should not last for more than three months. “We expect to have it done by just before the Easter holiday,” he said.

In addition to the renovations above, the statement by the hotel added that the other major change would be that the company that owns the establishment, Hotel Alay SA, will take over the direct management of the establishment. So far, the hotel has been leased for several years to an external operator belonging to the Catalan group Ibersol, according to the press release.

A reorientation

“In 2015, after having recently acquired the hotel, it was submitted for a major renovation focusing on the modernisation of its facilities, adapting them to the demands of an increasingly competitive market, which has maintained the establishment as one of the most important hotels on the Costa del Sol,” the press release read. The Alay’s management stated that the hotel’s “pre-eminent” position had led its owners to decide last year to “reorient” their activity to specialise in hotel management. “With this, [the company] began the preparations that will allow them to take charge of the hotel’s operation without the need for intermediaries after the liquidation of their contractual commitments as of January 1, 2019,” they added.

The document also, following the words of its architect, stated that “the idea of ​the people in charge of the project is to submit the hotel to an intensive reform to completely renovate its facilities and equipment, which will allow it to open its doors at the beginning of the 2019 tourist season.” The hotel’s owners added that they have the “firm intention” of offering its customers a whole new range of services,” by taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the Alay Hotel’s wide and varied facilities and premises.”

Original Story: Diário Sur – Iván Gelibter

Translation: Richard Turner

AXA Buys 850 Prime Residential Assets in Spain for €170M

20 December 2017 – Eje Prime

AXA is redoubling its commitment to Spanish real estate. Two weeks after formalising the purchase of the largest portfolio of student halls in Spain, through a joint venture with CBRE, for which it paid Resa €0.5 billion, the investment arm of the insurance company has acquired 850 prime residential assets from Goldman Sachs and B Capital. This operation has been signed for €170 million.

Most of the homes purchased by AXA are located in the central areas of Madrid and Barcelona. Moreover, fourteen of the properties have been built since 2005 and the remainder have all been renovated within the last fifteen years. As such, the portfolio comprises luxury homes, which the company will revalue over the next few years by putting them up for rent.

Hermann Montenegro, Director of Investments at AXA Real Assets, also said that “the purchase of this portfolio of high-quality residential assets reflects our confidence in the residential markets in Madrid and Barcelona, where the growth in rentals has increased and the outlook for the next few years in terms of demand is very favourable.

This investment forms part of a long-term plan by AXA Real Assets to invest in sustainable and growth markets. In this context, in the last year, it has undertaken investments in Finland, Germany and the USA, amongst others.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

New Urban Planning PGOU Approved for Málaga

25 November 2017 – Diario Sur

Following the annulment of the PGOU approved in 2010, the route map towards the normalisation of urban planning in Marbella has taken a step forward with the initial approval of some new urban planning rules. The latest document seeks to “update” the plan approved in 1986, which is still valid now and which will serve as the basis for drafting the new PGOU that the city needs. The process, which was approved by the plenary with votes in favour from the government’s team (PP and OSP) and the PSOE, and votes against from IU and Costa del Sol Sí Puede, must now be completed with text from the provincial delegation of the Junta’s Environment Board, prior to the issuance of a mandatory report. Subsequently, it will be presented to the plenary again for definitive approval (…).

In practice, and as the councillor for Land Planning, María Francisca Caracuel, explained, modifications have been made to the framework, amongst others, “which affect many homes” and which mean that “extensions, improvements and renovations will now be allowed” on buildings that were left out of the guidelines after the 2010 plan was annulled.

Another change will affect plots of land, for which it is not currently possible to grant construction licences because no approved urban planning projects exist, in accordance with the plan approved in 1986 “even though, in reality, they are already partially developed”. In these cases, the common rules open the door for the plots to be developed, by submitting an urbanisation work project “which is less complex and which can be processed in less time”.

The new rules will authorise hospitality use on the first floors of homes in the Casco Antiguo (Old Town) and will allow hotel establishments to expand their facilities onto adjoining plots even if the use of those sites is not strictly for hotel purposes (…).

Established urban plots

In the field of urban planning, the plenary also ratified (with votes in favour from the government team, against from IU and CSSP, and abstentions from the PSOE) the proposal made by the Councillor for Land Planning to incorporate established urban plots into the urban development plans, after they have been declared as such by binding legal rulings, administrative declarations, own acts, plenary agreements or by the Local Government. The councillor insisted that, given that it does not require any structural changes, there is no need for the document to be subjected to a new public consultation period, as had been requested by the other municipal groups.

In other matters, the municipal corporation also gave the green light, unanimously, to the proposal from the deputy mayor of San Pedro Alcántara, Rafael Piña (…) to begin the paperwork for the construction of a new secondary school in the south of San Pedro (…).

Finally, the plenary also approved, amongst other items, a proposal from IU to create a network of roads to connect the urbanisations between Bello Horizonte and Elviria, to form a 10km network that will offer a safe alternative to the A-7 motorway, which is “always packed and dangerous”.

Original story: Diario Sur (by Mónica Pérez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

RIU Seeks To Grow Its ‘Hotel Plaza’ Business Line

17 May 2017 – Expansión

RIU is on a roll. As it waits for the starting gun to fire on its Edificio España project in Madrid, the Mallorcan hotel chain is analysing other destinations in order to strengthen its Plaza business line, which is strategic for the group, whereby adding new locations to the Plaza brand.

The CEO of RIU and Head of Canary Islands, Morocco, Portugal and Cape Verde, Félix Casado, explained in an interview with Expansión that the group is considering destinations such as Barcelona, Paris and Rome to continue the business it started in 2010, when it opened its first RIU Plaza hotel in Panama. Since then, it has added another five Plaza branded establishments in Berlin, Dublin, Miami, Guadalajara and New York. But, for the time being, it does not have any in Spain. At the beginning of the year, the company announced its plans to team up with Baraka to manage and invest in the mega-hotel that the Murcian group is planning to open in Edificio España.

“We are very excited about the idea of handling this project in Madrid, in particular, in a building as iconic as Edificio España. The negotiations are not proving easy and now we have to wait for the purchase operation to be closed, which has been delayed for three months, before we can start construction”, said the Director. Casado said that his firm’s investment commitment with the Baraka Group “continues”, in line with expectations, with the aim of creating a joint venture to which the hotel chain will contribute 25% of the investment.

In terms of the possibility of undertaking a project on its own, in the event that Baraka does not manage to close the purchase within the scheduled timeframe – i.e. by June – Casado simply said that that option “is not envisaged”. And he added: “The other line would be a separate study that would have to be analysed from the point of view of the required investment and the return”.

Entry into China

Besides the urban business, the hotel group’s growth plan involves expanding into vacation destinations, both in America as well as in Asia.

The company, which operates in 19 countries with almost one hundred hotels, is considering entering China, starting out in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. “We would be willing to invest in all of these destinations. RIU is going to attend the ITB Tourism Fair in China to consolidate its relations there and create new business opportunities”, said Casado.

In addition, RIU has not ruled out returning to Cuba, which it left in 2015, with the management of new hotels. “We are looking at various possibilities to return to Cuba. We have experience in that destination and if an opportunity arises that fits with out philosophy then we will explore it”.


In addition, the hotel group is committed to repositioning its products through major renovation projects. Within the framework of this strategy, the Spanish group will spend €400 million this year on construction and renovations, of which almost €150 million will be spent on improving its hotel portfolio in Spain.

“We are diversifying the product and we are updating it, so as not to get left behind, with the aim of ensuring that our clients are happy, which is one of the priorities of RIU”, he said. Recently, RIU opened the doors to its Club Hotel RIU Costa del Sol in Torremolinos, after combining and renovating the RIU Belplaya and RIU Costa Lago hotels.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hispania To Invest €650M Ahead Of Company Sale In 2020

3 May 2017 – Expansión

Hispania is getting ready to embark on a new phase. The Socimi in which George Soros owns a stake wants to update its hotel portfolio, by purchasing new assets and reposition its existing properties, with the aim of preparing the company for sale, which must happen before March 2020 – the date on which the company will celebrate its sixth anniversary of trading on the stock market.

The company plans to invest €400 million in new hotel acquisitions, which it will undertake, for the most part, before September, including an establishment in Mallorca with 250 rooms that is expected to be completed soon and which will turn it into the largest hotel owner in Spain and the third largest group in Europe behind Pandox and Foncière des Murs.

The group has 38 hotels and 11,000 rooms. The gross asset value (GAV) of its hotel portfolio amounts to €1,257 million, according to the most recent valuation performed by CBRE.

Similarly, the company will spend €250 million on the repositioning and renovation of its portfolio. This investment effort will be undertaken primarily in 2018. The group will finance this investment using its own capital and through debt.

In this way, the managers seek to have Hispania ready by the first quarter of 2019 to prepare it for its sale. The Socimi is considering selling off the whole company – excluding its offices and homes – through a transfer of control, rather than by selling off the assets individually or in batches.

The entry of Soros into the group’s most senior management body, following the incorporation of Benjamin D. Barnett, analyst at Soros Fund Management UK Management LLP, into the Board, will facilitate contact with international investors interested in the company, according to sources in the market.

In addition to its hotel portfolio, the Socimi managed by Azora also owns 27 office buildings, worth €520 million and measuring more than 185,000 m2, as well as a portfolio of homes comprising 750 units worth €230 million.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry Of Development: Finished Homes Fell By 4.9% In Jan

30 April 2017 – El Mundo

In January 2017, construction of 2,973 homes was completed in Spain, which represented a decrease of 4.9% compared to the same month in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Development.

In this way, the number of finished homes in Spain began 2017 on a negative note, after recording nine consecutive years of decreases in 2016. Since the peak of 2007 (641,419 homes), the figure decreased by 94% with respect to the end of 2016.

Of all of the homes completed in January 2017, 99% (2,945) corresponded to private developments and 1% (28) to Public Administrations.

In comparison with the figures recorded in the same month in 2016, the construction of homes by private developers decreased by 5.3%, whilst the number increased in the case of Administrations from 16 to 28 constructed homes.

In the private segment, 1,918 homes were constructed by companies, representing a YoY increase of 5.3%; 956 were built by individuals and communities of owners (-21.2%) and 26 by cooperatives (-59.4%). In addition, there were 45 construction completion visas relating to another type of private developer.

Meanwhile, the liquidation value of the material execution of the construction work rose by 27.86% in January, to €444.7 million.

Renovations rose by 4.7%.

Permits to renovate or restore homes in Spain amounted to 1,785 units in Spain in January 2017, which represented an increase of 4.7% with respect to the same month in 2016 (1,705 permits).

In this way, permits to renovate homes began 2017 on a positive note, after recording two consecutive years of increases, although the rise in 2016 (2.7%) was more moderate than in 2015 (13.4%).

In 2014, permits to renovate homes recorded four consecutive years of decreases and dipped to a minimum in the historical series prepared by the Ministry of Development, but that trend was broken in 2015, and the new trend was consolidated in 2016 and maintained at the beginning of 2017.

Meanwhile, permits to expand properties doubled in January, from 89 during the first month of 2016 to 197 in 2017.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Alpha 2: Colonial Invests €400M In RE In Spain & France

7 February 2017 – Expansión

On Monday, Colonial, the second largest real estate company in Spain (after Merlin Properties) unveiled its new strategic plan, known as Alpha 2. Under this plan, the company has invested €400 million in four operations: three in Spain and one in France (Paris). The group has opted to undertake operations to reposition its assets. In this way, it will allocate €250 million to property acquisitions this year and the remainder will be spent on renovation work.

The group will invest €51 million on an office building on Paseo de la Castellana, 163, which has a surface area of 11,000 m2. The property is currently occupied and will be renovated floor by floor, as the current tenants vacate the property.

In Barcelona, the group has acquired the headquarters of Fundación Bertelsmann, on Travessera de Gràcia, 47-49. The operation, including the remodelling work, amounts to €41 million. On the other hand, Colonial will spend €32 million to build a new office tower in Plaza Europa, number 46-48. This operation will be performed through a joint venture with the perfumery and fashion group Puig. The future building will be located opposite the Catalan company’s current headquarters.

Finally, the fourth operation involves the acquisition of a building at number 112-122 Avenida Emile Zola in Paris. In total, the group will spend €245 million on this purchase, in an operation that was announced a few weeks ago.

This plan complements another one, executed last year, known as Alpha, which initially planned to make investments amounting to €400 million, but in the end spent more than €500 million.

Its purchases included the acquisition of 15% of the Socimi Axiare’s share capital. The company led by Pere Viñolas (pictured above) spent €135 million to become the largest shareholder of that listed company, which debuted on the stock market in the summer of 2014 and which has been setting itself up as one of the main owners of office buildings in Madrid and Barcelona – it has very similar portfolio to that of Colonial.

Currently, Colonial owns 59 properties in Paris, Madrid and Barcelona, with a combined value of €7,543 million, according to the most recent estimates, performed as at 30 June 2016. Its most recent acquisitions include several office buildings, such as IBM’s headquarters in Madrid, located on Calle Santa Hortensia, worth €154 million. The Mexican group Finaccess (former owner of the Modelo group, the manufacturer of Corona beer) sold that property, along with another building on Calle Serrano, in exchange for a stake in Colonial.

Alpha also included the purchase of a 4.4% stake in the French firm SFL, which the Reig family sold for €106 million.

During the 9 months to September 2016, the real estate company in which the Sovereign fund of Qatar, Finaccess and Villar Mir hold stakes, generated revenues of around €205 million, up by 21% compared to the same period in 2015.

During the same period, Colonial earned €249 million, up by 17%, whilst its level of indebtedness (LTV) amounted to 40.3%. Just three months ago, the real estate company carried out a bond issue amounting to €600 million.

Original story: Expansión (by G. Trindade and R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CBRE: House Prices Will Grow By 3%-6% In 2017

16 January 2017 – El Mundo

One out of every two directors in the real estate sector in Spain believe that house prices at the national aggregate level will rise by between 3% and 6% in 2017, compared with only 21% that thought the same in 2016. That is one of the main conclusions of the Real Estate Trends Barometer compiled annually by CBRE, the largest international real estate consultancy and services firm. For the preparation of the Barometer, CBRE has surveyed the 100 main experts in the sector in our country.

This indicator is particularly important because it is the first time since the outbreak of the crisis that experts in the sector forecast an overall increase in prices in the Spanish residential market. That, together with other data, is evidence of the recovery in the housing market. In fact, 56% of the experts surveyed believe that the absorption of housing will gradually increase and half of them think that prime yields will grow in the residential sector.

Similarly, after property developers experienced a revival in 2016, 36% of those surveyed consider that most opportunities will be found in renovations within the residential segment in 2017, followed by new build homes, which means that the number of cranes should continue to follow the rising path that has already begun.

The awakening of property developers and real estate companies

Almost 60% of the experts consulted forecast that private investors and family offices will be more active in 2017 than last year, followed by core plus funds (according to 44%) and institutional investors (30%). Moreover, 58% of the directors in the sector think that opportunistic investors will decrease their activity in the market in 2017, an important change compared to recent years.

Nevertheless, the most striking conclusion is the perception that the people surveyed have of the role that property developers and real estate companies will play this year. In fact, 32.2% of those surveyed think that property developers will play a key role, compared with 6.6% who thought the same last year. Similarly, 44.4% (compared with 26.3% last year) think that their role will increase although in a less marked way.

Meanwhile, in terms of other players, the Socimis are expected to continue to play a key role according to one out of three experts. International investors will also be significant players in 2017, according to 31.5% and finally, domestic investors will remain stable with respect to last year or may even slightly increase their presence according to the vast majority.

Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero, President of CBRE Spain, added that “these forecasts seem to show a continuous line with respect to 2016, a year in which, according to our data, more than 40% of the €13,850 million invested in the real estate sector in our country came from overseas and when Socimis accounted for around 40% of the total capital invested”.

Offices will continue to attract most attention in the market

Like in the previous two years, the office sector will continue to be the most attractive in 2017. Whilst last year, 32% of those surveyed focused their real estate activity in Spain on that segment, this year 35% expect to do so, followed by 19% who are committed to the residential sector. Moreover, interest in the industrial-logistics sector has increased, up from 12% last year to 16% this year. (…).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry Of Dev’t: New Home Permits Soared By 17% In 2016

4 January 2017 – Expansión

Moreover, loans to build new homes have grown by 37%, despite the tightening of controls by the banks.

A decade later, the cranes are back on the skyline of Spain’s major cities once again. The economic improvement and return of credit to the property sector boosted the construction of new homes by 17% in 2016, according to the construction permit statistics published by the Ministry of Development.

The growth was driven by a 37% increase in the financing granted to construction companies and property developers, which received €1,025 million between January and October, according to the General College of Notaries. The banks have now digested the majority of the toxic assets left over from the bubble and are opening the credit tap to the construction sector once again, albeit including more restrictions and controls to avoid repeating the errors of the past.

On the one hand, in most cases, financial institutions are demanding that 80% of developments are pre-sold before the construction of any new buildings can begin. Moreover, the banks are requiring project monitoring to audit the execution of the work and, in the same sense, a more detailed control of the clients that choose to buy properties.

With the money loaned by the banks, property developers and cooperatives have started to design buildings aimed at capturing the demand for new homes that exists in the market. “Clients believe that the worst of the crisis is over and that prices are not going to decrease any further. Moreover, financing conditions for buyers are unique given the low level of Euribor”, explains Daniel Cuevo, Chairman of the Association of Property Developers in Madrid (Asprima).

But the doors to the new real estate market have not been opened to everyone. Most of the new homes sold are “reposition” properties, in other words, they are properties that replace homes that have become too old or too small for their occupants. Young people are finding it the hardest to form their own homes, due to the high rate of youth unemployment, the level of wages and the instability in the market. (…).

In total, during the first ten months of 2016, 16,043 permits were requested to build new homes. The sector expects to reach the 20,000 permit threshold by the end of the year, a figure that exceeds the number of permits requested in 2015 by 17%, but which is still well below the 113,000 permits requested in 2006, a record year, at the height of the real estate bubble. (…).

On the other hand, the new homes that are being built post-crisis are not the same as those that were built during the boom years. Now, property developers are designing buildings with three-bedroom homes that cost the same as a two-bedroom home back in 2006. Urbanisations, which become so fashionable at the beginning of the century, are also back in demand. “People want homes with padel courts and a swimming pool, plus they now also want specific spaces to celebrate parties for children and adults”, explains the President of Asprima. In total, the Ministry of Development granted 1,175 permits to build urbanisations in Spain during the ten months to October 2016.

The increase in property construction has been accompanied by more transactions involving land. The number of land purchases by companies recorded an average growth rate of 23% during the nine months to September 2016, across the country as a whole. In certain regions, such as Madrid, the increase during the first three quarters of the year amounted to 135%. (…).

The improvement in new build construction work also extended to renovations. Thousands of households took advantage of the economic recovery to undertake home improvements and even to extend their properties. Thus, during the first 10 months of 2016, 21,801 requests were filed to renovate or restore homes, up by 2.1% compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, demand for permits to extend homes soared by 39%, to 1,634. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Victor Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid Accounts For 70% Of All New Housing Permits

10 October 2016 – Inmodiario

The Community of Madrid has been boasting to property developers that it represents the real driver of the growth currently being seen in the real estate sector in Spain.

In this way, at the opening of the National Real Estate Conference, the Director of Transport, Housing and Infrastructure, Pedro Rollán, commented on the statistics and highlighted that licences for new residential construction projects in the region increased by 66% during the first five months of 2016, well above the national average increase of 27%.

During his presentation at the conference, organised by the Association of Property Developers and Construction Companies in Spain (APCE), under the title “From recovery to innovation”, Rollán commented that real estate is a strategic sector, whose contribution to GDP is essential for economic growth.

And, to this end, he stated that the sector’s reactivation is necessary to consolidate and strengthen the (overall) recovery. He emphasised the importance of the need to continue working and adapting the (RE) sector to new times, and of innovating to achieve the most accessible, comfortable and least contaminated spaces.

In this sense, the regional Government is managing aid, which will serve to encourage the renovation of homes and the regeneration and refurbishment of urban spaces, thanks to the agreement signed with the Ministry of Development under the framework of the State Housing Plan.

Thus, this year, €14.4 million will be allocated to subsidies for building renovations and €29.8 million will be spent on aid for urban regeneration and renovation.

In the same way, the regional Government is working to create a Single Integrated Assessment Report Register for buildings in the Community of Madrid, which will contain all of the assessment reports relating to more than 40,000 buildings per year.

This register will enable the data obtained to be used to identify weaknesses and deficiencies in the building stock and will help to improve their quality and sustainability, as well as to obtain extensive information to allow policies to be directed appropriately in terms of architecture and housing. All types of buildings may be registered, regardless of their purpose (use) along with the mandatory registration of all buildings that are more than 30 years old.

Moreover, assessments of the degree of conservation of buildings (ITE) are going to be unified into a single document to ensure the safety of all of the buildings in the region; their basic conditions in terms of universal access, to encourage reasonable modifications in this regard; and energy efficiency certifications (CEE) to help achieve the commitment made in terms of energy savings and building sustainability.

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake