Although several hotel executives don't view the war in Ukraine as a drag on European hotel performance at the moment, their tune could change if the conflict continues to makes travel to Europe more difficult.
Daily Lodging Report
Skift’s Daily Lodging Report is a subscription-required, email-only newsletter read by anyone and everyone in the hotel investor, owner, and operator space, including CEOs of some of the industry’s top brands. It covers North America and Asia Pacific with two separate regional editions.
Here’s a sampling of what the Daily Lodging Report provided to its readers this past week. If you’re not a subscriber, you should be. Don’t wait. Sign up now here.
Sunday, March 6
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York is in the midst of a sweeping residential conversion dubbed the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, partnering with the White House Historical Association, a nonprofit founded by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, to preserve the White House’s history. The association will create a presidential library in the storied building set to debut next summer. According to the White House Historical Association, the collection will span more than 500 books and will be continuously updated with new titles. The library will be part of the many attractive amenities offered at the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, a swimming pool in the former Starlight Roof ballroom, a winter garden with a bar, and a theater.
Skift Note: The original Waldorf’s massive overhaul is still delayed, but the renovated property will eventually treat visitors to various aspects of its history as well as a modern look.
Monday, March 7
This spring, Virgin Hotels is making its European debut with a pair of Scottish properties in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Virgin Hotels Edinburgh will debut first in the city’s Old Town area. The outpost will have 225 rooms, multiple dining options, the Commons Club, and a large multifunctional gathering space. As for the second European outpost of Virgin Hotels, it will open later this spring in Glasgow’s shopping district. Virgin Hotels Glasgow will house 242 rooms. On the other side of the Atlantic, the 38-floor Virgin Hotels New York City is prepping for a summer opening near Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. Also in the works is Virgin Hotels Miami in the city’s Financial District, scheduled for a 2025 opening.
Tuesday, March 8
Marriott International’s CEO Anthony Capuano presented at the JP Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum. Capuano said Bleisure, the blend between business travel and leisure, is a real thing, saying Thursday to Sunday business is almost back to pre-Covid levels. He also mentioned international travel as starting to gain steam while business travel is slow and steady, with 4Q -30% below 4Q19. So far MAR has not seen a meaningful impact from the Russia/Ukraine situation but it is likely too early to determine the risks to Western Europe, but MAR has not seen any material increase to cancellations.
Skift Note: Capuano is right that the Ukraine War isn’t dragging Western European hotel performance for now. But his company’s presence in Russia — prior to its decision to halt openings, investments, and development in Russia — drew scrutiny.
Wednesday, March 9
Hilton presented at the JP Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum, saying they see minimal impacts from the geopolitical concerns aside from a minor uptick in cancellations and potentially choppier development in the countries directly affected. They continue to see leisure as a bright spot but small to medium size businesses have provided the return of the business transient, with HLT above to maximize rate with those customers. Large corporate accounts have not kept pace with the small to medium size business recovery though the outlook remains positive for larger corporate accounts in 2022. HLT still expects their capital returns program to resume in 2Q22 with an opportunity to fully reinstate their dividend and resume share repurchases.
Skift Note: Hilton’s bottom line should continue to receive a boost from small to medium sized businesses because many of those companies’ workers need to be out on the road.
Thursday, March 10
IHG also announced a further expansion of its portfolio in the Middle East with the opening of the InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa. This is the first property for the luxury brand in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The resort is located on the shoreline of Hayat Island, a 45 minute drive from Dubai International Airport. The property includes 351 sea-facing rooms, suites and private pool villas; nearly 1,000 square meters of event and meeting space; a large infinity pool; kids club and six F&B outlets. The Club InterContinental includes a dedicated check-in area and provides guest access to the exclusive Club InterContinental Lounge which has a private pool and more. The resort also has a spa with a traditional Turkish Hammam and an extensive health club with a separate fitness studio, outdoor tennis court, and segregated male and female saunas. The spa is not scheduled to open until April.
Skift Note: The Middle East led the world for many hotel companies in performance at the end of last year, so developments like this are likely to follow suit.