The Intercontinental Park Lane has been put up for sale with a probable price tag of at least £200 million. Jones Lang LaSalle has been appointed agent for one of the biggest single hotel sales in London in recent years.
“We have kicked off the process,” InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) chief executive Richard Solomons confirmed. “It is impossible to say how long it might take. There are particular types of buyers for these trophy assets and Park Lane is a great asset in a great location.”
At the same time IHG has just opened the Westminster, with nearly 250 rooms, next to New Scotland Yard, and Solomons said this had started off very well. “It’s popular with politicians and business people and has a great bar,” he said.
IHG’s full-year figures topped City forecasts today with operating profits up 10% at $614 million (£396 million) on revenues 4% higher at $1.8 billion. The dividend was lifted by 16% to 64 cents a share.
The key measure for hotels — revenue per available room (RevPAR) — grew by 6.3% in the US, 1.7% in Europe and 5.4% in Greater China.
Solomons said: “It was a good solid year with growth all around the world. We launched two new brands — Hualuxe and Even — which have both been received very well. We are coming up to the 10th anniversary as a standalone business and despite the current economic background we feel very positive about the long-term prospects.”
RevPAR for January was up 6.6% but this was partly skewed by the Chinese New Year, which was in January last year but in February this year, so while China RevPAR was up 21% it is likely to have been much more muted this month.
Solomons is pushing the UK Government to make it easier and cheaper for Chinese tourists to get visas to come to this country.
He said: “It is by far the most sought-after destination among the Chinese but hardly comes in the top 10 places they actually go to because of the visa problem. It is good that the Government has improved visas for Chinese students but they must do more for tourists. It’s a no-brainer.”