• Boutique difficulties

Ken McCulloch, one of the pioneers of the boutique hotel revolution in Europe with the Malmaison brand, took another knock to his business ambitions this week when Delancey was announced as the partner for the Brooklands Hotel project at Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey.

McCulloch’s Columbus moniker had been earmarked for the 120-room site but it now looks likely to join Delancey’s Hilwood portfolio.

McCulloch had been hoping to begin a roll out of Columbus but the brand has failed to make headway since its debut in 2001 in Monaco.

Even worse for McCulloch, who founded and grew Malmaison on the basis of affordable luxury, his designer budget Dakota brand, named after the DC-3 aircraft that popularised air travel, has similarly failed to take-off.

Last month, McCulloch’s business partner in the Dakota concept, racing driver David Coulthard, issued a winding up petition for the first Dakota site in Nottingham over an unpaid debt.

Just a year ago, Dakota was heralded as having secured £150m in funding from Royal Bank of Scotland and HBoS to add a dozen sites across the UK.

Meanwhile, the sale of the Columbus in Monaco appears to have stalled amid wrangling between McCulloch and Coulthard and fellow business partner Peter Morris.

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