Thistle Hotels is about to undergo a major change as it sells off more hotels, dramatically changes its style, and ditches its thorny name.
Thistle, which was taken over by its major shareholder BIL a year ago, has just put seven of its hotels up for sale, including six in London, and plans to launch its new rooms and new name before the end of the year.
Chief executive Arun Amarsi said the group would sell off several of its hotels in London and the provinces, but planned to expand its portfolio through management contracts.
He added that Thistle had sold its hotels in Islington and King's Cross to Travelodge-owner Permira last month because they could never fit with the company's new style. The new style is similar to that of Radisson Edwardian and Malmaison, with muted colours, high technology and sharp lines characterising interiors.
"We want to be in the four- to five-star sector instead of the three-and-a-half- to four-and-a-half-star range where we are," said Amarsi. "We need to seriously upgrade our offering and contemporise it."
Along with the change in style, the group is also looking for a new name. Amarsi said Thistle had to change its name if it wanted the new style of hotel to be accepted.
"We cannot keep the Thistle name because people won't be able to associate it with the new hotels we'll develop," he said. "They'll always think of the old Thistle."
Amarsi admitted that the changes were long overdue, but said it was impossible to implement them before BIL had total control.
"Thistle was a very confused company," he said. "It had nice assets in great locations but was drifting. Now we have a real focus on where it wants to be and where it's going."
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 22 July 2004