The St Giles Hotel Group has revealed plans for expansion in Blackfriars, London, and Birmingham as it announces its intention to have 20 properties open by 2020.
The Malaysian-based group, which currently has nine hotels and three in the pipeline, says the properties for its 20 by 2020 strategy could be either owned and managed. It currently has two mid-market hotels in the UK, the St Giles London on Tottenham Court Road and St Giles Heathrow.
Planning consent will be sought in the first half of 2017 to develop a £1b project near Blackfriars that would include a 400-600-bedroom hotel to open late 2019/early 2020, alongside a residential tower and a commercial tower with a retail component.
The company's 300-bedroom Heathrow hotel is currently adding a £7.5m, 100-bedroom extension over the next six months in anticipation of the airport's third runway. The hotel has been operating at an average 95% occupancy over the year, according to Abigail Tan, head of UK, Europe and USA for the St Giles Hotel Group.
Meanwhile, the group's 720-bedroom central London hotel is set to undergo a seven-week, £300,000 lobby renovation from January 2017 to "bring it back up to modern standards". However, the recent news of plans to develop a 110-bedroom underground hotel beneath it have not been entirely welcomed, and St Giles was publicly opposed to the development.
"We got notified not through the developers but through the planning process," said Tan. She said the new hotel will need St Giles' support, especially since current plans involve a lift that infringes on the St Giles London itself. "We'll see what kind of demographic they're going to market to," she added.
Of the expansion, she said: "Next year we're trying to push really hard on not just acquisitions but management contracts because we're hotel owners and operators, and we're owners first, so we know how to put the owners' needs first. We know how to operate an efficient hotel and control our costs.
She added: "We have experience here [in the UK] and we're still confident in the market. We still want to explore new markets and new avenues but if we can have a strong base [here], it's a good way to move forward with other countries."
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