Overall ranking: 74 (new entry)
Hotelier ranking: 15 (new entry)
Tony Troy is chief executive of the Principal Hotel Company (PHC), a 34-strong hotel collection created from a portfolio of properties built up by American private investment firm Starwood Capital, which was founded by Barry Sternlicht, the man originally behind Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The new company has evolved from the consolidation of the collection of hotels Sternlicht acquired between 2013 and 2016, including the Principal Hayley Group of 22 four-AA-star hotels for £365m, De Vere Venues (£231m), Four Pillars Hotels (£90m) and two hotels within the Town House Collection (for an undisclosed sum). Following investment of more than £300m, PHC has created two distinct brands from the disparate collection of properties: Principal, an urban lifestyle brand, and De Vere, a collection of country house properties focusing on events, food and beverage spaces and gardens.
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Troy is a veteran of the UK hotel scene having worked for Principal Hotels in a previous incarnation, following the launch of the company in 1984. Within eight years, the group grew into a publicly listed regional company with 18 properties. However, heavy debts combined with the recession drove it into administration in 1992, followed by a period of takeovers, acquisitions and disposals. In 1994, Tony Troy, former operations director of the group, led a management buyout of the company, which 12 years later acquired Hayley Conference Hotels to become the Principal Hayley Group. Troy was appointed chief executive.
Having gone through the recession with minimal investment, Principal Hayley Group’s 22 four-AA-star hotels (and one near Paris) were snapped up by Starwood Capital Group in 2013. As Starwood added further UK properties to the portfolio, Troy has been responsible for overseeing the consolidation of the hotels to reposition the Principal and De Vere brands, each with a strong identity.
Under Troy’s stewardship, the hotels have undergone substantial refurbishment. Starwood has been serious about injecting as much value into its properties as possible and has now reached the point where it is looking to realise that value. In recent weeks the French hotel giant Foncière des Régions has confirmed that it is in exclusive discussions to acquire the Principal brand for £750m, following earlier rumours that the entire PHC portfolio was up for sale with a reported £1.2b price tag.
A sum of around £200m has already been raised by the disposal of 20 “non-core” hotels within the group in 2017 as Troy and his team – headed by David Taylor and Laurie Nicholls as chief operating officer of Principal and De Vere respectively – and set about creating what he says will be the “finest collection of UK hotels ever to be assembled under one group”.
Following on from the launch of Principal hotels in Manchester, York and Edinburgh (two), this month has seen the opening of the brand’s flagship property, the 334-bedroom Principal London within the 120-year-old former Hotel Russell building on Russell Square. Other hotels eventually making up the 12-strong brand will be located in Cardiff, Leeds, Glasgow and Oxford, with properties in Birmingham and Liverpool also in the pipeline.
The De Vere brand of 23 properties includes hotels at Wotton House, near Dorking, Surrey, and Wokefield Estate, near Reading.
How the Principal Hotel Company has reimagined the De Vere brand >>