Von Essen Hotels‘ land grab of iconic British and European hotels is set to continue unabated this year, according to its founder and chairman.
In an exclusive interview with Caterer, Andrew Davis revealed that the luxury hotel group planned to acquire 10 "major British country-house hotels" in the first half of 2008. He also promised continued expansion into Italy and France.
"By Easter we'd hope for acquisitions in Monaco and the South of France," he added, "and if the Orient-Express group were for sale, we'd love to bid on the 14 European hotels."
Von Essen also plans to establish a fifth brand, the Metropolitan Set, to complement its existing Country, Classic, Family and Continental sets. The Metropolitan Set will comprise "in-town, cool and trendy hotels", according to Davis. Its flagship property will be the riverside boutique hotel and spa currently under construction beside the London Heliport in Battersea. Last January, Davis told Caterer he was "furious" the group didn't buy Hotel du Vin, sparking speculation that he would look to acquire the hotel group in future.
To support this acquisition and development programme, Von Essen is on the verge of announcing a new chief operating officer, with a high-profile appointment anticipated.
Meanwhile, Von Essen's Royal Crescent in Bath has been accepted into the Relais & Châteaux group. The hotel is the first-ever Bath property to be represented in the luxury portfolio, and its inclusion makes von Essen Hotels the biggest owner of Relais & Châteaux properties in the world, with seven.
By Mark Lewis
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