The founder of Luxury Family Hotels (LFH) may be on the verge of buying back the group he sold to Von Essen Hotels nearly six years ago.
Nigel Chapman, who launched the group with Nicholas Dickinson, has made a bid, supported by private equity finance, for five hotels to Ernst & Young, the administrators of Von Essen Hotels, according to a story in today's Times. Von Essen collapsed in April with debts of more than £250m.
The properties, which have a combined asking price of £27.5m, include Woolley Grange in Wiltshire (pictured), Fowey Hall in Cornwall, Moonfleet Manor in Dorset, Ickworth hotel in Suffolk and the Elms in Abberley, Worcestershire.
Von Essen bought the first four hotels for a combined price of about £30m in early 2006 and marketed them as the Luxury Family Hotels set, to which they later added the Elms.
Chapman returned to the UK hotel market earlier this year with the launch of the Halcyon Hotels and Resorts. Its first purchase was the 41-bedroom Polurrian Bay hotel at Mullion, Cornwall, off a sale price of £2.3m. At the time Chapman said he intended to buy up to five hotels in the South of England over the next one to two years.
Chapman today confirmed the story in The Times, but would not comment further.
The deadline for bids for the 26 Von hotels in the UK, plus one in France, as well as a development opportunity on Thorn Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast, has recently been extended to 19 August. Bids for the group as a whole, for a price in excess of £200m, are being invited as well as offers for the individual properties. The most expensive are Cliveden in Taplow, Berkshire, at £35m and the Royal Crescent in Bath at £22.5m.
By Janet Harmer
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