Profits make the penthouse suite at Forte's luxury hotels

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The Independent Online

Sir Rocco Forte's group of 11 luxury hotels checked in record revenues in 2005 with sales soaring past the £100m mark.

Rocco Forte Hotels, which runs five-star operations such as the Savoy in Florence and the Astoria in St Petersburg, posted a 15 per cent increase in sales, to £107.7m, at its hotels under management in the year to the end of April 2006. Pre-tax profits also sparkled with a 3.9 per cent increase to £12.9m.

The figures are a strong indication that the luxury sector is fully recovered from the slump that took place after the 9/11 terrorist attack. A 7 per cent increase in Forte's average room rate fuelled a rise in room yield of 7.4 per cent during the year.

Revenue growth was driven by new openings. The company's flagship hotel, Brown's in London, reopened last December after a £19m renovation overseen by Sir Rocco's sister, Olga Polizzi. The group also launched a new spa hotel in Frankfurt.

The UK provides around a third of the group's turnover. However, with each of its four properties having huge overheads, Britain accounts for the lowest portion of its profits.

Over the next two years, the Forte group will swing the doors open to properties in Munich, Geneva and Prague, as well as launching its first resort: a 200-room golf and spa development in Sicily. Sir Rocco's aim is to run a five-star hotel in every major city in Europe. His company secured the backing to achieve its rapid expansion in 2001 after signing a €390m (around £265m) joint venture with HBOS.

Sir Rocco and his family control 98 per cent of the group. Sir Rocco paid out £2.4m in dividends to himself and his family in 2005 on the back of its increased fortunes, compared with £1.5m in the previous year.