London's standing as the world's leading tourism centre makes it a target market for the expansion of American hotel brands, the 28th European Hotel Investment Conference was told.
James Bermingham, executive vice-president and head of operations, Montage Hotels and Resorts said that London is "a market that will always endue as one of the best tourism brands in the world, supported by one of the best labour market".
Montage is a Californian-based hotel management company operating under two brands - the ultra-luxury Montage, which currently has five properties, and the new luxury lifestyle Pendry. "We have five hotels under development and definitely regard London as a target market," said Bermingham.
Auberge Resorts Collection is another Californian-based business which is due to open its 11th hotel next month. Craig Reid, the group's chief executive, said that it is focused on offering informal luxury within properties of around 50 to 100 bedrooms.
"Our closest UK equivalent is Firmdale Hotels," he explained. "What we do is a very well edited proposition. The goal is to open 18 hotels within the next five years and 40 within 10 years."
Scott Woroch, managing director of SH Group, the hotel management company operated by American private investment firm Starwood Capital Group, spoke about the company's intention to expand its luxury Baccarat Hotels & Resorts brand into Europe, with locations such as London, Paris, the south of France and Milan within its sights.
"We would like to open 20 to 30 hotels globally," he explained. "We are not intending to grow a brand the size of Four Seasons, but will operate as a more niche player that really resonates with its customers." SH Group also operates the lifestyle, eco-brand, 1 Hotels.
Hard Rock International is the only one of the four groups that has specific plans to open in London, following the announcement earlier this year that the Cumberland hotel - owned by GLH - at Marble Arch will reopen as a 900-bedroom property under the brand by summer 2018.
Having opened its first hotel in 1995, Hard Rock now has 24 properties open and a further 24 in the pipeline worldwide.
Josh Littman, vice-president development (EMEA) for the group, said: "We don't intend to open more than one hotel in most markets, but London is an exception, as is New York."
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