Whitbread is believed to be in advanced talks to sell its 11 Courtyard by Marriott hotels to privately owned Kew Green Hotels for an estimated £80m.
In May, Whitbread announced the sale, saying it wanted to exit the three-star market to concentrate on its budget Premier Travel Inn and four-star Marriott chains. A spokesman confirmed that Whitbread was in exclusive negotiations with a single party for the Courtyard by Marriott hotels, which could lead to an offer within weeks.
Speculation about the buyer has focused on Kew Green Hotels, which was set up in 2001 by Paul Johnson and Jeremy Richardson, both former executives at motorway service operator Welcome Break.
Johnson said he could not comment on the rumours of a deal with Whitbread.
Kew Green currently runs four leased hotels under the Days Hotel and Express by Holiday Inn franchises in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Derby, Nottingham and Portsmouth, Hampshire. Two more are under development in Luton, Bedfordshire, and Stansted, Essex.
Whitbread is expected to reveal more details later this month about its plan to sell off assets worth between £200m and £300m from its Marriott chain.
The Courtyard by Marriott hotels are all freehold properties with a combined 867 bedrooms.