Málaga: One of Spain’s Top Cities for Hotel Investment Again in 2018

11 January 2019 – La Opinión de Málaga

Málaga has consolidated its position as one of the tourist areas with the highest volume of hotel investment in recent years, even though the data for 2018 was somewhat lower than that registered in 2017, which was an “extraordinary” year, according to a report presented yesterday by the consultancy firm Colliers International Spain. In this way, Málaga recorded a total investment of €215 million in 2018, which represented 5% of the national total, estimated at €4.81 billion. The study includes investments in existing hotels (improvements and sales/purchases) as well as those dedicated to land and non-hotel properties (for their conversion to hotel use).

The consultancy firm explained that hotel investment at the national level increased by 23.1% in 2018 with respect to the previous year, to achieve a “new historical maximum”. Nevertheless, in the case of Málaga, investment decreased by 50%, motivated by the high levels reached in the area in recent times, with a “very vertical” investment, which has made investors “more cautious” following an “extraordinary” 2017 (…), according to the Partner and Director for Hotels at the consultancy, Miguel Vázquez.

In 2018, ten hotel transactions were closed in Málaga (two in the capital and eight in the rest of the province). The most important deal was the purchase of a hotel by the Greek hotel group Ikos Resorts. In the capital, the purchases corresponded to NH Málaga and Vincci Málaga – in both cases, the ownership changed hands but the hotel management remained the same.

Two buildings were also purchased for hotel use, both in the capital: the Equitativa (acquired by the Didra investor group) and another on Calle Puerta del Mar, where the chain Catalonia is going to open a hotel. On the other hand, there were two land operations, also in the capital, by Room Mate and Well&Come.

The Canary Islands was ranked ahead of Málaga as the region that accounted for the most investment in 2018 (€1.63 billion), which represented 35% of the total, followed by the Balearic Islands, with €944 million (21%). Madrid accounted for another 13% of hotel investment (€601 million) whilst Barcelona recorded €244 million (5%), very similar figures to Málaga. The Catalan capital also saw its investment volume decrease by 50% in 2018, according to data from Colliers International Spain (…).

The strength of the holiday sector

Based on the figures for 2018, Spain was ranked in second place for hotel investment in Europe, behind the United Kingdom, according to data recorded to September 2018, with a market share of 24% of the total for the region, which amounted to €21.6 billion. In total, 273 hotels were purchased, containing 36,189 rooms, 91 more than during the previous year, when 182 establishments changed hands involving 28,813 rooms (…).

Original story: La Opinión de Málaga (by José Vicente Rodríguez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Be Mate Teams Up With Fund Q Capital to Grow its Tourist Home Business

23 March 2017 – Expansión

The businessman Enrique Sarasola has found a new formula for accelerating the growth of Be Mate, the rental platform for tourist apartments, through which he is complementing his Room Mate hotel offering. The plan is to team up with the investment fund Q Capital, which will contribute €100 million of funding so that Be Mate can search for, adapt and manage between eight and ten apartment buildings in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga and Sevilla.

“The project reinforces the idea that you can’t block progress”, explains Sarasola to Expansión, who also highlighted the importance of the fact that a “team as strong” as the one at Q Capital has decided to back the management of entire apartment buildings. The faces behind that firm include Íñigo Olaguíbel, Borja Oyarzábal and Borja Pérez.

Q Capital, founded in 2016, channels direct investments in Spain from Qualitas Equity Partners. Its objective is to find returns in segments such as SMEs and other niche areas not served by traditional financial operators.

Medium and long stay apartments

This alliance is going to give a boost to the concept already tested by Be Mate in the Plaza de España Skyline building: the management of entire buildings of tourist apartments. This business, inaugurated last year, is proving “a success”, explains Sarasola.

The novelty is not only in the financing, which is going to be provided by Q Capital, but also in the fact that Be Mate is going to go beyond the tourist home service to offer “apartments for medium and long stays, and for corporate use”. According to Sarasola, “it is another change that adapts to our times. We are pioneers in this field, but it is because we listen to our clients and we have identified that the need exists”.

Of the ten or so buildings planned, Be Mate has already identified five. The acquisitions will be undertaken over the next three years, initially in Spain, which is the “priority” market, but not at any price. “We will invest here for as long as the regulations are not prohibitive. If that changes, we will go overseas”, he warns.

Be Mate broke its own revenue record last year, by generating sales of €6 million, 10 times more than during the previous year. It sold 80,000 overnight stays for 30,000 clients, 40% of whom came from international markets. The company offers 10,000 apartments, 600 of which it manages exclusively.

Original story: Expansión (by I. de las Heras)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Carmena Scuppers AXA’s Plans For Cine Rex

27 September 2017 – El Confidencial

An urban planning setback for the real estate arm of the French insurance company AXA. The Town Hall of Madrid has scuppered the company’s plans to convert the former Cines Rex into a retail space, by declaring inadmissible both the modification to the Special Plan for the building located on Calle Gran Vía, number 43 Bis, as well as the Special Plan for Environmental Urban Planning Control for Uses of the property. The first of these instruments is used to process the change of use for buildings, whilst the latter is an urban planning instrument aimed at evaluating “the incidence that the implementation of a certain use may have on the urban environment and on the characteristics of the space that it inhabits, prior to the concession of the licence”, according to the Official Gazette of the Town Hall of Madrid.

It is worth remembering that the building has Level 1 protection, which means that the owner has an obligation to protect both the façade and the interior, and from therein arises the need to approve both urban planning procedures.

The Town Hall’s decision represents a major setback for the French insurance company, which reached an agreement to acquire the building that houses Hotel Rex and the historical cinemas of the same name for around €42 million at the end of 2015 (…).

AXA had planned to remodel the building, which has a surface area of 9,000 m2, and operate it by combining the hotel use – which it already held – with retail, the use that was reserved for cinemas, whose protected nature the insurance company was willing to respect, even though the space, measuring 700 m2, had been in disuse for several years. Sources at the company assure El Confidencial that “the project for the Rex building is going ahead as planned and on time. We are holding conversations with the Town Hall of Madrid to undertake certain modifications as part of the operations usually involved in these types of large projects” (…).

According to the sources consulted, the French insurance company had planned to convert the cinema into a large retail space to house a flagship store, in a similar style to Primark, a few doors along on the same street. In terms of the hotel side, Room Mate Hotels, the hotel chain owned by Kike Sarasola, reached an agreement with AXA at the beginning of this year to operate the iconic Hotel Rex. (…). The chain’s objective is to undertake a remodelling of the property, with the aim of inaugurating the new hotel, which will comprise 130 rooms and create 45 jobs, between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Be Mate Launches Tourist Apartment Management Business

14 September 2017 – Expansión

Kike Sarasola (pictured below), owner of the Room Mate hotel chain, has taken a new leap forward in his activity as a tourism entrepreneur by taking over the management of a premium building in the centre of Madrid comprising tourist rental apartments. The operation is being undertaken through Be Mate and is the pre-cursor to a new line of business that involves the exclusive management of apartments for third parties, which is expected to grow to include 600 units. As part of its strategy, Be Mate is already considering taking over the reins at two other tourist buildings in Madrid, as well as at another two in Barcelona.

“They might be the best 36 tourist apartments in Madrid”, said Sarasola after announcing the deal, which sees him get ahead of the competition. The building is located on Calle Cadarso, opposite El Tempo de Debod, a premium area in the capital.

The property has a surface area of 3,500 m2 spread over eight floors, two of which, the sixth and seventh, are going to house the most exclusive apartments. The decoration has been entrusted to the architecture and interior design firm ‘Cat in a square’.

The property has already been restored and is owned by a real estate company, which has transferred the management to Be Mate. “Several large funds are interested in this formula”, which generates returns, explains Sarasola. His company will provide the personnel, technological know-how, revenue management and other tools that are synonymous with Be Mate.

Sarasola distinguishes his business from the Airbnb model and says that his facilities have not been included in any of the administrative actions filed against tourist apartments. “We are in favour of smart regulation where good solutions can be found for everyone”.

As it celebrates its third anniversary, Be Mate is getting ready to tackle an “ambitious expansion plan”, which includes opening new properties in London, Rome and San Sebastián, where the hotel chain Room Mate, also founded by Sarasola, plans to also open a new hotel in 2018.

In 2017, Be Mate expects to multiply its turnover nine-fold, to €6 million, by selling more than 80,000 room nights. Its portfolio of apartments has grown to 10,000, and has hosted more than 30,000 guests. 30% of its revenues come from international markets (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Iñaki de las Heras)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Room Mate Will Operate Hotel Rex In Madrid

6 February 2017 – Expansión

Room Mate, the hotel chain owned by Enrique Sarasola, has been chosen to manage the iconic Hotel Rex, located on Gran Vía in Madrid.

The hotel, which will have 130 rooms and which will be operated by Room Mate on a lease basis, will open its doors in 2018 or 2019 and will create 45 new jobs.

The building was acquired by Axa Real Estate in 2015. The owner now wants to undertake a comprehensive renovation of the property. To this end, the architect Tomas Alía, who has already worked for the hotel chain on other projects, such as Room Mate Oscar in Madrid and Room Mate Aitana in The Netherlands, will be the designer on this project.

In addition to Hotel Rex, Room Mate has five other hotels in Madrid.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Room Mate Prepares To Enter Holiday Hotel Segment

18 October 2016 – Expansión

Room Mate Hotels, the hotel chain chaired by Enrique Sarasola (pictured above), is preparing to enter the vacation hotel segment and has set itself the goal of having 2,000 rooms in a number of hotels along the coast by 2020.

Specifically, the group founded in 2005, which already has a presence in twelve cities and six countries, plans to inaugurate this new line of business next summer. To that end, the chain is currently analysing different projects and studying operations in the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Cataluña, Costa del Sol and Riviera Maya (México).

“We have taken this decision after listening to requests from our customers, who have been asking us for a long time now to take our philosophy and creativity to beach destinations”, explained Sarasola.

The Director said that the group currently has around fifteen projects on the table at various phases of analysis to determine whether they fit with its standards. “The company is being refinanced. This step forms part of our strategy to grow through turnkey projects”, he added.

The chain signed a €54 million refinancing agreement with Citigroup at the end of last year. Half of that figure will be used to pay off debt and the remainder will be used to finance growth.

The Chairman of Room Mate considers that this move is an important step in the company’s plans: “We want to take the essence of Room Mate to exclusive vacation destinations, specifically: excellent locations, superb design…and innovative concepts”.

In this way, the group’s new beach front destinations will include a wide range of leisure facilities, bars, restaurants, beach clubs and terraces, said Sarasola. “In some locations, we will opt for all inclusive formats, in others we will place the emphasis on the music or on the leisure facilities”, he said.

According to the company’s forecasts, Room Mate will close 2016 will operating revenues of €72 million, which represents an increase of 36% with respect to 2015 (€52.9 million). In the first eight months of this year alone, the hotel chain recorded revenues of €44 million.

Room Mate’s properties will close the year with an occupancy rate of more than 87%, whislt the RevPar (revenues per available room) will amount to €133.42, up by 14% compared to last year.

Room Mate Hotels has more than 1,500 rooms in 23 hotels and plans to open another eight establishments over the next few months.

Sarasola said that the chain has achieved record results in all of its destinations this summer, with the exception of Istanbul, which has suffered as a result of the terrorist attacks. “We are not planning to abandon the destination. We are not going to allow terrorism to change our plans”, he said.


In Spain, the Director encourages the Public Administrations to help the sector to renovate the hotel stock…to position Spain as the “Florida of Europe”. He also acknowledged that the lack of Government “is not good for the industry”.

The Executive recently strengthened his commitment to Room Mate by buying an additional 20% stake in the hotel chain that he founded more than ten years ago; he now controls 70% of the share capital. The remaining 30% is held by Sandra Ortega Mera, through the company Rosp Corunna.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sarasola Increases Stake In Room Mate To 70%

7 July 2016 – Expansión

The President of Room Mate, Enrique Sarasola, has purchased an additional 20% stake in the hotel chain that he founded in 2003, allowing him to take control of 70% of the share capital. The remaining 30% is held by Sandra Ortega, through the company Rosp Corunna.

Specifically, Sarasola has signed a contract, through his company Tafay 2000, to acquire the 14% stake controlled by Basphon Investment and the 6% stake held by Berbaz Familiar. Basphon Investment, a company owned by Pedro Agustín del Castillo, President of Binter Canarias, acquired its stake in Room Mate in 2009; meanwhile Berbaz Familiar, an investment vehicle owned by the Sanzol family, has been a shareholder since 2004.

This change allows the company to address its business plan for 2015-2019 with a more stable shareholder base, who are more focused on the “day to day” running of the company, explains Sarasola. The President of Room Mate and Bemate.com says that Basphon and Berbaz were “more financial” investors, who have identified an opportunity to exit the company and achieve a good return.


The Director considers that this movement is yet another example of his confidence in the company and he highlights the results achieved in recent years. Based on the company’s forecasts, Room Mate will close 2016 with a turnover of €68.3 million, which represents an increase of 22% with respect to 2015. The hotel chain generated revenues of €25.7 million during the first five months of the year, 48% more than in 2015.

Room Mate’s hotels recorded an average occupancy rate of 85.8% during the five months to May 2016, whilst its RevPar (revenues per available room) amounted to €127.30, 13.3% higher than during the same period last year.

Room Mate Hotels owns more than 1,500 rooms, has a presence in six countries and twelve cities and will open eight new hotels over the next ten months. In 2016, 65% of Room Mate’s revenues will be generated overseas.

Sarasola predicts that this summer will “break all records” and he highlights the strong performance of domestic tourism. In any case, the Director emphasises the need (for Spain) to form a new Government and he expressed his “concern regarding the Ministry of Tourism because since the Minister left, it has not been operating with the necessary degree of transparency”.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

ECI Sells Building On Plaza Catalunya For €17M

9 February 2016 – Expansión

The department store group has ruled out the expansion of its store on Plaza Catalunya because it has been unable to buy the building next door and so it has sold its property on Calle Fontanella, number 9.

El Corte Inglés has abandoned its expansion plans for Plaza Catalunya. The building that the department store group acquired in 2004 on Calle Fontanella, with the aim of extending its store, has been sold for €17 million to a Russian investor who plans to convert it into a hotel.

The property, which has not been used for more than a decade, is located at number 9, Calle Fontanella and is separated from El Corte Inglés store on Plaza Catalunya by another building. The group chaired by Dimas Gimeno acquired it thinking that it would also be able to buy the property located at numbers 5-7 and adjoin the two buildings onto its department store. Nevertheless, following years of negotiations with the owner (then CatalunyaCaixa), the building was eventually acquired by Caboel, the property company of the former owners of Caprabo, who renovated it and converted into a hotel operated by Room Mate.

The location of this El Corte Inglés store, in the heart of Plaza Catalunya, means that it can only be expanded through the purchase of neighbouring properties. The expansion project began to take shape more than ten years ago, thanks to Catalunya’s Commercial Facilities Sector Territorial Plan for the period 2006-2009, which allowed it to increase its net sales area by 5,000 m2.

The building at number 9, Calle Fontanella was acquired from Banco Sabadell for €17 million, which means that, a decade later, and given the impossibility of adjoining it onto its existing store, the department store group has recovered its original spend.

The purchaser of the building is a conglomerate of investors, which, according to real estate sources, are Russian and intend to convert the property into a hotel.

Its surface area (3,200 m2), wide façade and central location make the conversion of the property into a tourist establishment an ideal option, but the operation has been signed in the middle of the hotel moratorium. As such, the investors will have to wait until the mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, establishes the new urban planning rules for tourist accommodation, which will determine the neighbourhoods in which new establishments may be constructed.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sidorme To Trial Tourist Flats on c/Fuencarral In Madrid

4 April 2016 – Cinco Días

The arrival of summer will see a 180-degree turnaround in Sidorme’s strategy. The hotel chain, which currently manages 12 properties located in Madrid, Albacete, Granada, Valencia, Girona and Barcelona, will move into the tourist flat sector in June. In recent years, this segment has seen tremendous growth in Spain thanks to online platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway and numerous hoteliers have declared war (on players in the sector) accusing them of unfair competition.

In the case of Sidorme, the property in question is located at number 46 on Calle Fuencarral in Madrid, just a few meters away from a hotel owned by the company. The building is owned by the company Bawar Real Estate, which is responsible for renovating it, and will contain 20 apartments.

“Our idea is that the apartments will be located within a 3-5 minute radius of the hotels that we have in the centre of Madrid, so that we can provide a personalised service from the hotel reception”, says the CEO of Sidorme, Jairo González (pictured above). In addition, the company is finalising a second building containing apartments, which will be located close to the hotel that the chain plans to open after the summer, on Calle Montera, very close to the Puerta del Sol. With this second project, in which Sidorme will invest €2 million, the chain will operate 40 tourist apartments in the centre of Madrid.

Through this initiative, Sidorme hopes to differentiate itself from BeMate, the online platform operated by Room Mate, which also markets tourist flats close to its hotels. After these two buildings, which will form the company’s testing ground, González says that Sidorme will add between 40 and 50 apartments per year, which will ideally be located in buildings dedicated exclusively to this activity. Sidorme is cautious about other cities, “if we do not already have a hotel there, then it will not work”.

Alongside this activity, Sidorme will continue with its growth plans for the hotel segment. It will open its first establishment in San Sebastián in June and its second property in the centre of Madrid in September. The company has halted its plans to dives hotels that it owns, after it failed to receive any financial offers that were in line with its expectations, set at around €30 million. It does not rule out a capital increase or the incorporation of new partners to accelerate its growth plans and it is open to growth through hotels in Madrid “if that is appropriate”, as well as in other secondary cities.

Original story: Cinco Días (by L.S.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

AC, Hesperia, Piñero And BlueBay All Plan To Launch Socimis

9 February 2016 – Expansion

Following the success of Barcelo and Bay, more and more chains are in the study of creating a listed vehicle and separate property assets from hotel management to reduce risk and free up resources.

Despite the negative start in the stock markets, 2016 could be the year of hotel Socimis. The alliance between Barceló and Hispania to create the listed investment vehicle “Bay”, together with the interest of investors in the hotel sector in the heat of the tourist boom and the recovery of the Spanish demand, have encouraged BlueBay, AC, Hesperia and Grupo Piñero to launch their own Socimis.

In the case of Blue Bay, the plan is well underway and its Socimi could debut on the floor in the first half with four hotels in the Balearic Islands and one in “Costa del Sol“, and a value of between EUR 150 and 250 million. As Antonio Fernandez, Chairman of Armabex and registered adviser in the operation, “the operation of Barceló and Hispania has made both large chains and small and medium-sized family companies reflect.” 
According to Fernandez, “This is the time of hotels, due to real estate valuations, the liquidity in the market and the type of asset. Since they operate with a lease contract, you can capture some of that value as investment. And he adds: “In the coming years, no properties will be sold, but the SOCIMIs themselves”.

So far, the focus of hotel SOCIMIs has been the holiday segment, taking advantage of the excellent moment in tourism – Spain received more than 68 million foreign visitors in 2015 – and visibility, as the resort hotels have signed contracts of several years with tour operators. Thus, all hotels that Barceló transfered to Bay and with which Bluebay will create its Socimi are spread between the Balearic Islands and Andalusia. 
However, this trend might change in the medium term, with the first purely urban hotel Socimis. Meridia Capital works in this line, which could give the shape of Socimi to its fourth fund. The new vehicle specializes in city hotels, located in Madrid and Barcelona and will combine establishments of several chains. The project of Meridia Capital could open a window of opportunity to Hesperia Investment Group and AC, which are also analyzing the creation of their listed vehicle.

Hesperia, an NH shareholder, tried to sell a batch of six hotels during the crisis and transferring the property it would obtain funds to reduce its debt while maintaining the management of the establishments.

This is one of the great advantages for hotel companies. However, in the case of Meliá, the formula has been discarded because the Socimi forces to sign a lease contract and the Escarrer family´s chain guides its growth strategy via management. Nor is it in NH´s radar, since after progressive output deals in recent years, IT only has 13 owned hotels in Spain – out of a total of 79 – including Eurobuilding Madrid or Calderón Barcelona.

By contrast, it does have the door open to replicate the formula in other countries like Mexico – where the equivalent are the fibers, and Greece, but so far these projects have slowed. Likewise, Room Mate chain led by Enrique Sarasola, is planning to ally with a Socimi – in this case, it does not have owned hotels, but simply manage them, or a Reit – as these types of vehicles are known in the US, to boost their growth. In addition to the tax advantages and the distribution of at least 90% of income in dividends for investors, Socimis are a funding formula and make expansion – Barceló used the funds raised with Bay to purchase “Occidental” – and succession in family businesses easier.

Original story: Expansion (by Yovanna Blanco)

Translation: Aura Ree