Malmaison has hired Moreno Occhiloni, former chief operating officer of Rocco Forte (RF) Hotels, to seek out potential sites for expansion into mainland Europe.
The boutique hotel chain, which has 12 properties in the UK, aims to open hotels in major European cities such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Venice.
Robert Cook, chief executive of Malmaison and its sister brand Hotel du Vin, which are both owned by Marylebone Warwick Balfour, said that a contract had been signed with Rome-based Magellan Hospitality Management Services, the company set up by Occhiloni after he left RF Hotels in March 2009.
Occhiloni assisted Rocco Forte in founding his company in 1997 and was responsible for helping to develop and grow the brand throughout Europe.
"It is too early to say how many hotels we would like to open and how they will be financed. The initial intention is to gain a foothold on the continent," said Cook. "We are looking for operating management agreements on sites with the potential for development."
The new hotels are likely to have around 100 to 150 rooms and could be owned, leased or managed.
By Janet Harmer
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