Following up on past hotel, conference news
Following up on past hotel, conference news
13 FEBRUARY 2017 8:50 AM

Journalists attending various conferences tend not to follow up on their previous articles and panels anywhere as much as they should. Here at Hotel News Now, I have managed to join the circle back on two feel-good industry stories from the last year.

I often notice that I can never find out a conclusion to many news articles I read in the general press—which is somewhat of a bother.

A story will intrigue me, and the details will burrow somewhere in my cranium. Then, when I am reminded of them, I can never find what happened. News has moved on.

So, upon seeing two “conclusions” in the same week—last week—I felt I could do something to rectify this wrong, at least for readers in the hotel industry.

Grande dame in need of TLC gets some W
Marriott International’s W Hotels brand is set to debut in the Czech Republic capital of Prague in 2020. It will take over the Grand Hotel Europa just off famed Wenceslas Square.

This “conclusion” comes from the opinion piece I wrote last April, when I paid homage to the often decaying grande dame hotels of Europe, including Prague’s Grand Hotel Europa: “Some (of these hotels) need tender, loving care; some are being given it; and some are time warps that a certain type of traveler is happy to see belonging to the era of the fictional hotel in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’”

W Hotels is giving it some TLC, which is good to hear. I wonder if the new name on its façade will follow the same Art Nouveau font; I hope so, it was built in 1905. The new 154-room property is owned by PPH Evropa and will open in 2020.

The most expensive room will be called the Extreme Wow Suite—a more lavish version of a presidential suite—which doesn’t sound like something that would exist in 1905.

But it’s an excellent story, nonetheless, because it has been completed.

Hotelier’s success story
A panel where four startup hoteliers pitch their ideas and projects is a common occurrence at industry conferences. They’re usually hopeful that the audience members have a fictional $100 million to divvy up between the quartet on stage.

All of one’s $100 million might go to just one of the projects, or portions of it might be divided to two, three or all of them. The panel is a fun breather between discussions on real estate investment trust strategic divestiture and revenue management distribution key performance indicators.

At the first Gulf & Indian Ocean Hotel Investors’ Summit in 2016, one such idea took place, something along the literary lines of what author Graham Greene would call one of his lighter novels— his “entertainments.”

Among the four panelists in 2016 was Nehme Imad Darwiche, chairman of Darwiche Worldwide Legacy and CEO of Jannah Hotels & Resorts. He gave a good account of himself and his idea. We all gave him some of that $100 million—easy as pie, when it is not real money—and off we all went.

Last week, at the 2017 edition of GIOHS, Darwiche was back in Abu Dhabi. This time he was on a “real” panel, which discussed whether the East or the West is the current best bet for hotel investment.

Talking to Tony Ryan, head of mergers and acquisitions at consultancy JLL, Darwiche said he had been very lucky that someone at the 2016 edition not only gave Jannah some fictional money, but also some real money.

Now, with Jannah’s six properties in the United Arab Emirates and a healthy pipeline, Darwiche said he was investing in European short-term rentals, mentioning in particular his love for the small Belgian city of Ghent.

He might be in the market for a grande dame there in need of care and attention. I am sure Ghent has them.

Also, Darwiche said the Jannah story began in the UAE outpost oasis of Liwa, which just happened to be where I spent the weekend before the 2017 conference began.

Another circle formed.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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