Lifestyle hotels buck sector’s downward trend

A new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ hospitality and leisure group shows the ‘lifestyle hotel’ concept is gaining ground in Europe, with almost 60 new properties expected to open over the next five years.
PwC’s second annual survey questioned 19 European operators of lifestyle hotels, which it describes as having ‘modern, contemporary character…offering high-quality, high-tech in-room facilities’.
It found such properties were bucking the general downward trend in the hotel sector, reporting a 9% growth in room capacity or an additional nine hotels and 700 rooms since the last survey.

Six of the 19 operators had increased supply by more than 20%. In particular, the Stein Group, whose properties include London’s Durley House and Blakes Hotel in Amsterdam, said it expected rooms supply to have increased 243% year-on-year by the end of 2003.
Robert Milburn, UK leader of PwC’s hospitality and leisure group, commented: ‘Whilst the hotel sector as a whole remains gloomy, quite a few lifestyle operators seem to be getting it right. As a result, more discerning travellers, both business and leisure, are opting for the smaller, more personal and more contemporary surroundings of a boutique hotel, rather than the traditional chain hotel. It is hard to see this trend doing anything other than grow apace when the recovery comes.’
Germany’s Sorat Hotels was the biggest group in the survey for the second year running, with 24 hotels and 2,275 rooms, followed by MWB’s Malmaison chain (843 rooms) and Sol Melia Boutique Hotels (806 rooms).
Just over half (53%) of the companies surveyed were in the mid-market price band, with an average net single room price of €78-€189, while 21% were priced at €190-€249 and 26% at €250+. Of the 20% that said they had already set their rates for 2004, half anticipated no change, while half expected an increase of between 2.8%-5%.