Who owns venues

Written by Paul Jun 25 2014

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So you’re staying in a top hotel and you spot that luxurious, fluffy, brilliant white dressing gown, the sort you can never find in shops only in 5* hotels, hanging there saying “take me, take me”. While many of us can resist the lures of petty theft many out there succumb to the temptation, often with mitigating statements such as “well the only loser is the multi billion dollar hotel company”. It is those sort of sentiments (and some interesting encounters recently) that has led me to this blog where we uncover who really owns the hotels you’re staying in.

It’s hardly a well kept secret that many global hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Accor etc offer franchises of their various brands, taking a set up fee and then yearly revenue cuts, 5-10% usually. This allows them to expand globally and rapidly without large capital outlay and gives the franchise holder central sales/marketing teams and the backing of a large reputable brand. This has created an industry where smaller companies can own a number of hotels of various brands and with within different chains.

One common theme among this fragmented market is family ownership of hotel groups. These families, of which many hail from the Asia, take an active interest in the day-to-day running of the hotels and the welfare of their staff. Many of them base themselves in their hotels and can often be found holding meetings in lobbies and bars. In fact in recent hotel visits I have spied Jasminder Singh in the May Fair Bar observing goings-on and the Matharu brothers & family dining in the St Paul’s hotel.

Now while I wouldn’t plead poverty on behalf of any of the names listed below, in fact all can be found in the Times Rich List, it’s worth noting that the hotels they run are far more than just corporate entities. They are the lifebloods of these families who take enormous pride in their properties and the staff who run them. So put down the dressing gown and just pocket a couple of soaps instead.

Some notable hotel owners

Radisson Edwardian Blu - Owned and run by Jasminder Singh the group has 14 properties, mostly in London, including the 5* May Fair Hotel. Jasminder has recently purchased the Leicester Square Odeon with plans to create a mix use destination.

Arora Hotels - Founded by Surinder Arora who arrived in the UK aged 13 unable to speak English. After converting a B&B near Heathrow to accommodate airline staff Arora now owns multiple airport properties including Marriott's, 2 Sofitel's and the Arora brand.

Cola Family - Headed by Kurdish refugee Bakir Cola the family owns the 500+ bedroom, recently refurbished, Kensington Close hotel, the 5* Westbury in Mayfair and Kingsway Hall near Covent Garden. Bakir’s son Azad is the group director.

Grange Hotels - Harpal Matharu started his hotel career converting office blocks into business hotels. The family now owns 17 hotels in London including their flagship 5* St Paul’s hotel. Harpal runs the business with his brothers.

Exclusive Hotels - The group consisting of 4 luxury country house hotels, with the renowned Pennyhill Park at the forefront, was founded by Giuseppe Pecorelli who was previously MD at Trust House Forte. His son is now group MD.