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Higher occupancy or higher rates?

2nd Spotlight Hotel Investment Poland: Cities in national race

Poland Today Investment Conference Warsaw 2015  
Feeling the hotel pulse of Poland: Participants of the 2nd hotel
investment conference at the Westin Warsaw.


Warsaw (June 26, 2015). "Spotlight Hotel Investment Poland" launched one year ago. Last week, 200 participants, around 40 more than at its premier, were at the second such event. Promisingly, this included many Poles. The event proved that the hotel pulse is beating strongly in this country. Talk rounds also revealed minor changes over the last 12 months. Hoteliers are already thinking beyond national borders and international developers are increasingly thinking in a more differentiated way. Only the bankers remain conservative and are pleased to find investors willing to finance projects in Zloty.

Orbis Hotels, Accor's strategic partner in Poland with 106 hotels and 18,600 rooms in 30 cities and clearly the market leader in Poland, is in the process of thinking beyond borders. "We would like to become an international group," CEO Gilles Clavie says, with his view primarily focused on Baltic states. We want to be represented in premium locations, to guarantee standards, introduce new F&B concepts, push MICE business and much more... The company wants to be present in seven countries outside Poland. And for this, Orbis has concluded a development contract for eastern Europe up to 2035 with Accor; the first ten years are reserved exclusively for Orbis (see link/News-Mix).

With this, Orbis reveals more activity than any other hotel group is able to show in Poland. National groups generally limit themselves to their own country where the potential is there. At the same time, the medium-sized market, mainly characterised by private hotels, is cautiously familiarising itself with international brands.

Market figures from STR Global though are no carte blanche for unbridled expansion - not for chains and investors either. According to STR Business Development Manager Jakub Klimczak, Poland currently counts 2,450 hotels with 120,000 rooms. Average occupancy nationwide stood at 60% in April 2015 (year-to-date), the average daily rate (ADR) stood at EUR 61 (year-to-date). Experts continue to expect rising occupancy, as well as a rising number of rooms, albeit at a less sharp a rate as for occupancy. One conference participant noted, for instance, that in Warsaw, no contract has been concluded for a new international hotels over the last 12 months.

  Klimczak Jakub STR Global bei Poland Investment Conference 2015
  Jakub Klimczak, STR Global: In some destinations,
the rates are the challenge.

Viewed for the nation as a whole, these figures are no reason for excessive celebration, but are a solid basis for more. The stable economy also points towards a persistently positive trend. At least that's the opinion from outside Poland, individual Polish nationals attending the conference expressed their concerns in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections in October which could bring with them economic turbulence.

Good rates not only generated in Warsaw

Lively tourism is above all important for Warsaw. In the capital, hotels must generate higher rates whilst at the same time diversifying much more in the hotel segments. Apart from that, a national "race" also appears to be taking hold between the official capital Warsaw and the secret capital Cracow, the picture-book city in southern Poland. Also on the up: Gdansk. Hotel investments like the Polish-Norwegian design hotel group Puro with a large and exciting two-phase hotel project (first 93 then expansion to 213 rooms) in the very centre of the city have brought some movement to the scene.

STR Global has produced the following ranking of occupancy and ADR: Warsaw headed up the list in May 2015 (year-to-date and in local currency) with 70% occupancy and approx. EUR 75 ADR followed by Krakow (70% and almost EUR 70), ahead of Wroclaw (almost 60% and approx. EUR 53) and the TriCity Gdansk/Gdingen/Zoppot (approx. 56% and over EUR 70) and finally Poznan (approx. 52% and almost EUR 70).

Against this backdrop, it was all the more understandable that the proposed Convention Centre in Warsaw resulted in an intensive discussion between panel participants and audience. Krakow and Katowice have one (since November 2014 resp. April 2015), the capital still doesn't. How large or small might the Convention Centre be? Assessments here vary greatly and the emotions were high. Expectations of capacity also varied among participants, ranging from 5,000 to 15,000.

But even worse in the eyes of many: The final decision is being repeatedly delayed, though everyone knows that large congress deals must decide five years ahead of time on the congress location. This resulted in an even more sharply worded complaint that the City of Warsaw is not doing enough to market itself internationally. Any city wanting to compete with Berlin or Vienna must do more...

Warschau Raffles Baustelle und Bristol Hotel  

Under construction: the future Raffles Hotel Warsaw (left). In
operations: Hotel Bristol (right), member of The Luxury Collection.
/ photo: map


Discussion as to congress market persists

Participants also discussed how the finance for such a mega project must be comprised: as pure civic investment or as public-private partnership (PPP) model. The majority appeared to agree that a Convention Centre should be viewed exclusively as part of the civic infrastructure.

And one further point: Would it not be more sensible to raise Warsaw's appeal through events and sport than through congresses? Krakow is repeatedly coming up with ideas for events and has thereby increased demand in the city.

Interesting was that in connection with image opportunities for Warsaw, the new Raffles Hotel, currently under construction, is eyed critically as marketing opportunity for the city. Its location, directly across from the famous Bristol Hotel (The Luxury Collection, Starwood, opening end of 2016) makes the 5-star pair to a real magnet for the wealthier clientele. Orbis-CEO Gilles Clavie predicted later, on another panel, that this segment will certainly provide a boost for the city and for business for a Convention Centre.

Interest from European and international chains as well as from investors in the Polish hotel market persists. More on this in the next article.

That the Polish hotel market is attractive can also be seen from the fact that three organisers are currently trying to establish a hotel conference. "Spotlight Hotel Investment Poland", organised by Poland Today, a respected politically oriented publishing company, supported by the consultancy and intermediary Christie + Co, attracted most participants. The quality of the talk round participants was very good, individual talk formats could, however, be improved. / Maria Puetz-Willems



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