Around £10m is to be invested in providing some "tender, loving care" for seven of the latest Von Essen hotels to be sold.
The properties, which will become known as the Luxury Family Hotels (LFH) group, were bought by Halcyon Hotels and Resorts in a joint venture with Patron Capital, for a figure believed to be under £30m, well below the combined guide price of £40.5m.
Institutional investor Patron Capital, which recently financed the rescue of 24 Jarvis Hotels, now rebranded as Mercure properties, provided 95% of the equity for the LFH deal.
Nigel Chapman, founder of Halcyon, said he was delighted to once again be running four of the hotels - Woolley Grange, Fowey Hall, Moonfleet Manor and the Ickworth hotel (pictured) - which he and his then business partner Nicholas Dickinson sold to Von Essen in 2006 for about £30m, as well as take ownership of the Elms, New Park Manor and Thornbury Castle. The seven hotels will join the Polurrian hotel in Cornwall, which Halcyon bought earlier this year off a sale price of £2.3m, to take LFH to a portfolio of eight.
"Unfortunately all the hotels have been rather neglected in recent years and are rather tired and sad," said Chapman. "It seems that any investment Von Essen undertook was in the development of spas within the hotels, rather than the general upkeep. We shall be returning the hotels to their full glory before taking them forward to the next stage."
Chapman explained that his plans for LFH would reflect the considerable leap forward in the luxury family hotel market over the past 10 years and would include improvements to the bathrooms, the establishment of two restaurants in all the hotels and the extension of most of the properties to around 46 bedrooms.
Thornbury Castle, which previously has been aimed at the couples market, will initially sit outside the LFH brand before being gradually introduced to the family market.
Chapman said that with a potential luxury family hotel market of 1.6 million households, further expansion of the company is possible "if the right product comes along".
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Seven Von Essen hotels sold to Halcyon >>
By Janet Harmer
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