A collection of Italian luxury hotels with an estimated market value over €1.2 billion has been amassed by Middle Eastern investors. The last of a long series of deals concerns one of Venice’s jewels: the fascinating Hotel Gritti.
The leader of this buying spree is the emir of Qatar, who in recent years purchased a series of Italian hospitality jewels. Businesses linked to Qatar’s emir as well as businesses that can be traced back to members of the royal family or of family members with government roles have also been involved in this purchasing round.
Starting in 2006, when Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund purchased Milan’s Grand Hotel Gallia and restructed it for €400 million, throwing its doors open again for the Milanese last January, it has started accumulating a large number of Italian high-end real estate assets.
The emir through Qatar holding currently owns a number of Italian luxury hotels in the country’s largest cities as well as four super-luxury hotels on the Costa Smeralda (Hotel Pitrizza, Romazzino, Cala di Volpe and Hotel Cervo) which have recently been amplified.
The Katara Hospitality group (the government entity dedicted to developing tourism sector real estate) which in Italy owns the Gallia and Rome’s Intercontinenal, is in talks to purchase via Veneto’s iconic Hotel Excelsior from Starwood.
Constellation Hospitality Group (part of Qatar Holding and a business close to the country’s former prime minister) already stopped by Rome to purchase the St. Regis Hotel. For €150 million the same group bought Palazzo della Gherardesca, Florence’s Four Seasons hotel, from Corrado and Marcello Fratini.
Mayhoola for investment (the company that owns Valentino’s fashion house) bought Rome’s Europa and Regina hotel.
The most recent deal was signed last week by Nozul Hotels & Resorts, another company controlled by the emir and the owner of Doha’s W Hotel. Both companies are controlled by Jaidah holding, the entity that for €105 million purchased Venice’s Gritti.
What will the next targets be? Surely, it will be more high-end hotels situated in the large tourist and business cities along the peninsula.
Qatar’s emir and other members the royal family that have invested in Italy are is interested in more than hotels. Real estate in general is also one of their objectives.
At the end of February Qatar’s emir purchased 100% of Porta Nuova, Milan’s new business district. It also purchased Credit Suisse’s building in Milan as well as a building in Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna. It also took part in the race to purchase Unicredit’s former headquarters in Milan’s Piazza Cordusio.
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