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West Country hotels tipped for a fantastic year

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

The Shaven Crown in Shipton under Wychwood was one of numerous Cotswolds hotels that sold last year. Boutique hotels in the area were considered a market hot-spot

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A buoyancy returned to the West Country hotel sector in 2013 – with occupancy rates reportedly spiralling and the market for hotel purchases picking up considerably.

The sector suffered in 2012 due to a knock-on effect of the London Olympics and the prolonged economic downturn.

However things improved markedly in 2013 and some experts are predicting 2014 could be a very positive year indeed.

West Country hotels specialists Colliers International has reported a significant increase in activity in the last six months. going in to 2014 - and have already chalked up half a dozen sales across the region

Latest figures show hotel transactions across the UK as a whole leapt 66 per cent, to £800m in the second half of 2013.

Nationally, Colliers said it had its best year since the boom market, and was involved in selling or acquiring more than 100 UK hotels with a combined value of approximately £700 million.

Hot spots like the Cotswolds continue to attract the lion’s share of interest in the South West, although the Bristol-based hotels team has also scored success in the New Forest and along the South coast.

Directors Peter Brunt and Simon Wells have sold so many properties they are appealing for owners thinking of moving on to take advantage of the increasing numbers of buyers looking to snap up hotels and pubs across the region.

Cotswolds specialist Peter Brunt – a director at the firm – brokered the vast majority of its deals in 2013.

A string of successes last year included selling landmark hotels such as the Highway Inn and Burford Lodge in Burford, plus the Shaven Crown at Shipton under Wychwood.

“Having just sold the Kitchen in Minchinhampton and with two exchanges of contracts in late December on businesses due to complete at the end of this month it is clear there are plenty of well-funded buyers looking to gain a foothold in this very special market place.

“The Cotswolds in particular proved particularly resilient through the downturn and we are seeing a significant increase in activity as buyers respond to faster than anticipated improvements in the market.”

Colleague Simon Wells has also notched up some high profile sales including the Ayrlington and the popular gastro bar the Ring o Bells in Bath and the Burlington on the Isle of Wight.

Colliers also brokered the sale of The Astor Hotel on Plymouth Hoe and Lynton Cottage Hotel in Lyton. They introduced Daish’s Holidays to the Prince Regent and Russell Hotels in Weymouth, which completed just before Christmas.

Simon said: “We sold significantly more hotels this year and the majority were private sales where owners allowed them to be marketed at the correct asking price. What is pleasing is that the market responds with multiple bidders ensuring we are getting the best price in the market.”

ut buyers have been warned not to miss out as properties – and prices – begin to move forward once again.

He added: “Viewing rates have soared across the region and buyers are finding that properties are now much less likely to sit on the market and are starting to realise that perhaps we are off the bottom and starting to fly.”

For further details contact Peter Brunt or Simon Wells, Hotels directors, Colliers International on Bristol 0117 917 2000.

Meanwhile one of the most anticipated openings in the West in 2014 will be the former Von Essen hotel, Hunstrete House, near Bath, which is reopening as The Pig in March.

The country house hotel, set in 20 acres of woodland and deer park near Marksbury, was bought by hotel entrepreneur Robin Hutson and has been undergoing extensive renovation.

It will be the third property in The Pig chain, whose flagship property in the New Forest opened in 2009.

The Pig’s signature is a menu which only includes ingredients sourced from within 25 miles of each hotel. Hunstrete House has been closed since it went into voluntary liquidation in 2011 and the renovation is believed to have cost around £3 million.

The market for hotel sales accelerated in 2013 and is set to do so again, on the back of improved yields and growing confidence in the West, reports Jeff Wells

Data from Bristol accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP found the city’s hotel sector outperformed the UK average last summer. Rooms yield, the industry term for the amount of revenue generated by each available room, increased by 6.8 per cent in Bristol, in the third quarter. The UK average for regions outside London increased by 3.5 per cent.

The extra boost for Bristol might well have been down to the Gromit effect, when thousands of visitors viewed the sculptures of the Aardman dog dotted around the city.

Occupancy levels also increased in Bristol to 75.2 per cent, at an average cost of £61.31 per night.

Neil Dimes, partner at BDO’s Bristol office, said: “The summer months have brought visitors to the region and punters through the doors, which is good news for the hotel and leisure industry.

“Moving forward, Bristol’s leisure and hospitality sector would receive a significant boost if a concerted effort is made to ensure that the city gets its long-awaited indoor arena.”

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