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Editorial: On new paths with Huazhu, hybrid hotels and washing machines

Dear Insiders,

Who's Huazhu? After the takeover of Steigenberger Hotels AG this week, this is the question on everybody’s lips, as I noticed in almost every conversation since the news broke. The CEO of the Chinese hotel group, Jenny Zhang, found time for our questions and provides you with first-hand information and comments. Apart from the obvious acceleration in the expansion of the two top Steigenberger brands, there also seems to be a basic consensus between the new partners on quality and standards.

The figures from Huazhu here sound gigantic, yet in China its 5,000 or so hotels still places it mid-field. Egon Steigenberger's legacy and the expertise of a solid German hotel group will now be transported to China. The deal's big winner is Hamed El-Chiaty. As a result of the sale, he will pocket many times the price he originally paid for the group.

And there's another interesting aspect to this deal to be found here. Huazhu has been linked to Accor through a cross-shareholding since 2014; in addition to this, both have also linked their loyalty programmes. Now, Steigenberger is also to benefit from this loyalty programme... Will they be vying for the same customers? It'll be very interesting to see.

And this news from Accor yesterday morning made it all the more tantalising: Accor will enter into a strategic partnership with Alibaba, Ctrip's biggest rival. What does this have to do with Huazhu and Steigenberger? Answer: The founder of Huazhu previously founded Ctrip... Is this going to strain relations between Accor and Huazhu? It's absolutely exciting.

We have other topics for you today too: Fred Fettner returns from the WTM London with the forecasts and consequences for the still-not-Brexit. Meanwhile, the British have become hesitant when it comes to making their holiday bookings. This fits with the results of the latest Deloitte Hotel Investment Survey.

Continental Europe remains cheerful though and sees hospitality hybrids and mixed-use districts as the next promising trend. They are the harbingers of the new urban neighbourhoods. Pre-requisite: The mix needs interesting people and many events as meeting point. The Expo Real discussion was lively.

Josef Brandhuber from SoReal Invest outed himself as a hotel investor with heart and soul. SoReal's new hotel fund focuses on B and C locations. The experienced hotelier and banker says why this strategy is worthwhile. On the one hand, he sees no shortage of supply in these locations, and on the other, he of course also wants growth, "but not at any price. Responsibility and sustainability, coupled with decency, are what I've practised over the last 25 years".

With pink washing machines in the mega lobby, the new MA Living concept aims to make its brand stand out among serviced apartments. The first details were revealed to the media on Wednesday, with the first two hotels set to open in Munich in 2020. This and more today in an especially colourful edition.

Yours, Maria Pütz-Willems, Editor in Chief


Your opinion? maria[at]

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