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Opinion > OakNorth

What lenders look for when financing hotel projects

Ben Barbanel, head of debt finance at OakNorth | 16:57 Wednesday 10th October 2018

This week, I’ll be at the Annual Hotel Conference in Manchester where I’ll be speaking on Thursday about the funding options available to hotel businesses when it comes to financing future projects.

It got me thinking about what lenders typically look for: strong sponsorship, strong brand and strong location are still fundamental parameters, but it’s also worth considering any movements in the macro economic environment.

For example, the dramatic fall in the value of the pound following the EU referendum, which led to a significant jump in the number of tourists visiting the UK and the number of Brits choosing to do a ‘staycation’ rather than travel abroad.

In fact, according to Travelodge’s annual holiday report, 85% of Brits now take three staycation breaks a year on average, and over half (57%) won’t go abroad at all this year.

In addition to being mindful of the wider economic picture, hotel operators and developers seeking debt should ensure they’re meeting local requirements and that they’re aware of the demand drivers in specific locations. With hotels based in major cities, it’s worth offering conferencing suites or larger spaces for events – for example, the Annual Hotel Conference is taking place at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate. For hotels based in small towns – where there may be a limited choice in terms of leisure activities, spas or restaurants – having one of these could not only be a hit with tourists, but could also create a nice all year round revenue stream with the locals.

Some of the deals we’ve done with hotels this year

We completed a £21.7m loan to Starboard Hotels, owners and operators of franchised and own-brand hotels. Earlier this year, the group – which was founded in 2006 – acquired four Ibis Styles hotels from Carillion, increasing its total portfolio across the UK. The finance from us will be used to develop a new 162-bedroom hotel in Park Royal under the Hampton by Hilton brand. Over the last 12 years, Starboard Hotels has established a reputation in comprehensive hotel management and optimising asset performance without compromising on customer service and guest experience. The Starboard team is experienced and has a proven track record of developing new hotels, as well as acquiring and expanding existing ones.

We did a £7.3m transaction with Z Hotels to fund the newly opened 120-bedroom Z Tottenham Court Road hotel in Soho. Launched in 2011, Z Hotels has established a track record in developing and running hotels across the UK. The £7.3m loan adds to an existing £15.2m facility that OakNorth has with the hotel chain for the development of new sites in Covent Garden and Holborn.

We also provided Northumberland-based independent accommodation provider The Inn Collection Group with a funding package to support its expansion. Established in 2006, the group has developed contemporary inns and provided accommodation, food and drink to leisure and business customers. It plans to increase the number of rooms it has with the OakNorth finance.

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