Bankruptcies, glut of hotels for sale, few buyers, prices plunge. Nobu, de Niro, and Teper take big loss on sale of luxury hotel Nobu Barcelona that was open for only six months.
“Keeping a business alive that is generating no revenues is an uphill struggle,” Pol told me. He and two partners own Hostal Live Barcelona, a small two-floor hostel in the center of Barcelona that has been closed since March. “The only reason we are still going is that we qualified for the emergency loan in March. As our bank manager told us at the time, the only reason we qualified for that loan is that we had no debt and some savings, which we had planned to spend on expanding the business. Now those savings are being used just to keep the business alive.”
“It was such an easy business to run,” Pol says. “So many tourists were coming to Barcelona that all you needed to do was offer a clean, comfortable bed in a central location and market it online and someone was bound to fill it.”
Bankruptcy proceedings in the sector were up 60% in November on a year ago. Most of the hotels affected are small or medium-sized, with fewer than 100 rooms. Many other hotel owners now face the problem of trying to sell their business at a time that many others are trying to do the same.
“We have seen prices on some websites that blow your mind,” says Pol. “Some places we’ve seen are being offered at barely over half the price they would have gone for just a year ago.”
Pol is not a full-time hotelier. He’s an automotive engineer who recently returned to his job after months on furlough. His partners are in the IT business. They entered the hotel business together in 2013 with the purchase of a small one-floor licensed hostel on Barcelona’s Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. In 2015, they expanded the business by purchasing a license to convert another floor in the same building into tourist accommodation space. By that time, the hostel had 17 beds and six workers on their payroll.
Big luxury hotels too. A few days ago, the international restaurant and hotel chain Nobu Global, co-founded by Hollywood veteran Robert de Niro, Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, and movie producer Meir Teper, together with the Spanish hotel group Selenta, sold the 259-room luxury hotel Nobu Barcelona to German private equity fund ASG.
The hotel was open for only six months, from its inauguration in September 2019 until March 2020, when it closed due to the Pandemic, and hasn’t reopened since, like roughly three quarters of the hotels in Barcelona…
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