by Christina Golding
THE US firm that manages London's Lanesborough hotel is the latest to muscle in on the European hotel industry.
Maritz, Wolff & Co, the private equity firm, which manages hotels in the USA, Canada and the Caribbean through its Rosewood and Fairmont subsidiaries, has opened a London office in preparation for expansion.
Currently the company's sole European hotel is the Lanesborough, which it has run since it opened in 1991. The hotel is owned by a consortium of Middle Eastern investors.
Managing director, Europe, Marten Foxon, previously property director for Forte, said that London was showing the strongest movement in Europe, but five-star hotelsin cities such as Paris, Madrid and Rome would also be targeted.
According to Foxon, the increase in US firms moving into the European hotel market is not because of a downturn in business in their home market.
"Their funds are substantial and they are looking to spread their risk beyond the American market," he said.
Foxon said that the group was looking for five-star independent hotels to manage. In return for a fee, he claimed, profits could be increased by better efficiency and by using the company's marketing muscle.
Hotels, he added, would not be renamed.
"It can be foolhardy and arrogant, if the hotel has built its own reputation, to put Rosewood above the door," he said.