South African-based Leeu Collection, headed by Carrie Wicks (pictured), former operations director of Firmdale Hotels, has acquired its second European property.
The Collegio Alla Querce, a former boarding school and hotel in Florence, Italy, is to be transformed into a luxury hotel with more than 70 bedrooms, which will open in 2021.
Located 2km north east of the historical centre of the city within extensive grounds, the 19th century property has its own chapel and theatre. It will join the first European hotel bought by the Leeu Collection in January 2016: the four-AA-star, 30-bedroom Linthwaite House in Windermere, Cumbria.
The company also owns and operates three luxury hotels in Franschhoek, South Africa: the 17-bedroom Leeu Estates, 12-bedroom Leeu House and 21-bedroom Le Quartier Français.
Wicks, who was appointed chief executive of Leeu Collection in October 2016, said the latest acquisition by the group would complement its ethos of "extraordinary offerings" around the globe
"The project foresees the creation of a five-star luxury hotel and a wide range of additional facilities, such as meeting and event spaces, a spa and restaurants," she said.
Leeu Collection was founded by Analjit Singh, one of India's richest entrepreneurs, who is the former chairman of insurance and healthcare business Max India.
He said he intended to create "an unforgettable experience in a superb setting" in Italy. "Given the Florence hospitality and tourism boom, as well as the improving economic backdrop rejuvenating the European hotel sector, this new development is well timed and complements our existing portfolio," he added.