A rapidly expanding leisure group has added six former De Vere hotels to its existing national management portfolio of 21 four-star sites.
QHotels — which runs the Art Deco Grade II listed The Queens in Leeds and Manchester’s iconic The Midland — has amassed a stable of five golf resorts, 18 spa hotels and two city centre properties since its 2003 launch. Now it has added a mid-18th century Yorkshire mansion and five other hotels to its operation.
All the assets are in American ownership with the Boston-based investment bank Bain Capital, through its affiliate Sankaty Advisors, paying a total of £160m for the complexes.
At the height of the recession, De Vere came under severe financial pressure with the decline in international visits to Britain. Its business effectively came under the control of the Lloyds Banking Group, in which the taxpayer has a majority stake, as part of a £1.7bn debt-for-equity deal in 2010. Since then Lloyds has written off £670m, but has begun auctioning De Vere’s properties to claw back at least some of its money.
All six former De Vere sites will be upgraded and integrated into the QHotels chain, confirmed managing director, Michael Purtill. “This is a really positive move that will help drive long-term, sustained growth for the QHotels brand,” he added.
“All the hotels are an excellent fit as they are renowned for their first-rate facilities, catering and service. This aligns with our guest-first ethos and enables us to effectively expand our UK reach.”
The six hotels, located across the UK, include Oulton Hall in Leeds, the luxury five-star Cameron House in Loch Lomond, and the Elizabethan-style Dunston Hall in Norfolk.
Arguably the prize in the package, the converted Victorian country manor house Oulton Hall is located two miles from the M62 motorway’s and includes an indoor pool, leisure facilities and conference and banqueting facilities for up to 350 guests.
The three other acquisitions are the Grade II listed Mottram Hall, Macclesfield, where De Vere had its plans for a 350-seat “permanent” marquee to cater for weddings and corporate events knocked back by Cheshire East Council earlier this year; Slaley Hall at Hexham, including an international standard gold complex; and Grantham’s Belton Wood Hotel which also has a cluster of luxury lodges.
“We will be working with each hotel on an individual basis to ensure we build on the best of what they have to offer and complementing this with our experience and expertise,” added Purtill. “This will help to maximise the conference and events potential of each of the hotels, while strengthening our portfolio in terms of a wider golf, spa and leisure offering.
QHotels’ first priority is to protect and honour existing bookings, said the company’s managing director. “We are then looking at where we can invest in developing the hotels to emulate the award winning standards QHotels is renowned for and which drives guest satisfaction and loyalty.”
QHotels was recently awarded AA Hotel Group of the Year 2014. Other recognitions includes QHotels being rated number one UK Hotel chain 2013 by independent watchdog Which? and, for the second year awarded “Recommended Provider” status. It also landed three prestigious VenueVerdict brand awards for Gold Standard Group, Number One Large Group and Event Sales Enquiry Handling.
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