• Swire chooses boutique route

Swire Properties, the real estate wing of Hong Kong listed giant Swire Pacific, has bought three boutique hotels in the UK.

The deal to buy Alias is the start of a desire to grow a chain of lifestyle hotels under the supervision of former Scotsman Hotel boss Brian Williams.

Alias has hotels in Cheltenham, Exeter and Brighton but already Williams, the managing director of Swire Properties Hotel Holdings, is planning to add to his empire.

He is seeking hotels with about 70 rooms having bought what he considers is a platform for expansion. Two of the existing hotels will be extended – both Cheltenham and Exeter are currently just below 50 rooms and Williams believes 70 is the ideal number.

The purchase price of Alias was not disclosed but it is understood to be significantly under the £30m that GuestInvest paid for the chain back in November 2004 (although the Rossetti in Manchester was subsequently sold for around £10m to ABode Hotels).

The management team of Alias, with the exception of managing director David Myers, has been retained.

The entry of Swire gives added momentum to the burgeoning lifestyle hotel sector in the UK. The dominant player is the listed Marylebone Warwick Balfour which owns both Malmaison and Hotel du Vin brands.

But now, along with rivals such as ABode, the Stein Group, Red Carnation, Eton Hotels and the new owners of the Scotsman JJW Hotels, Swire will be nipping at MWB’s heels.

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