Category Archives: Hotel Finance & Funding

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How to Improve Your Hotel

Hotels are at the forefront of the hospitality trade, so you’ll need to maintain a dynamic approach to improve, or even just retain, your market position.

And while that’s rarely an easy ask in a sector where running a hotel means long hours are so often the norm, there are still a number of things you can do to make your hotel more effective and efficient.

For your guests, that means increased amenities and enhancing their overall experience, and for you, that means increased profitability.

So, what might be done to introduce a welcome breath of fresh air to raise the profile of your business?

Consider expansion

You can approach this in a variety of ways. If you know there is a new market you could accommodate, then adding to your facilities will increase your bookings and revenues.

While there will be some additional costs, these are always less for an established business, and some elements (e.g. marketing) can remain more or less the same by changing rather than increasing your strategy.

If that kind of expansion won’t work for you, consider enhancing your current provision. This might mean refreshing and expanding your menus for example, or even ringing the changes by inviting in a pop-up restaurant.

Whatever you do, make sure your dining facilities go well beyond the practical and functional. Modern expectations now dictate that your visitors will usually be looking for a memorable experience to enrich their stay, not just a basic provision that you could simply have at home.

Whatever you plan to try, remember this is also your opportunity to move with the times and reflect the latest trends. That in turn will also impress your guests, which should always be your main focus.

Renovate your facilities 

If you do nothing more, then giving everything a fresh coat of paint will send a message to your guests that you want nothing but the best for them.

Your refurbishments could also stretch to include new mattresses or upgrading your bathrooms. There’s nothing better to improve your visitor’s experience than offering some extra comfort and luxury.

A modern and stylish bathroom with a sumptuous, spa-like feel could be just the thing to get your guests talking, recommending and then re-booking.

Listen to your customers 

You won’t need reminding how important cleanliness is, but it’s your guests who make the judgements.

So take note of all feedback – positive or negative – to gauge how well your facilities are working, and to address any shortcomings before they become a recurring issue affecting your bookings.

Social media is a well-established marketing tool in the hospitality sector, so make sure you are the first to know what your guests have to say about their stay at your hotel.

And likewise, if you can do anything to make your guests feel that your hotel gives them special attention and added value, that will also reflect in social media recommendations and increased business.

Social media also offers the chance to keep an eye on what your local rivals are doing to attract business. So, if you keep tabs on them, you’ll get to hear about new initiatives early, which will then give you time to respond as necessary!

Campaigns and events 

Your hotel is a great space for events, so use this to your full advantage.

In particular, it can be used to strengthen your links with the local community – an important consideration for most hoteliers dealing with a seasonal trade.

Advertise the fact that you are happy to host birthdays, weddings, christenings and everything in between. Consider customer-friendly discounted rates for large group bookings, and even develop your own entertainment and themed nights to help market your facilities to your local clientele, thus sending out the message that you are not there for the tourists alone.

Whatever your budget, there are always ways to develop and improve your hotel.

And the best way is usually to create an improvement plan. This will ensure that you are always looking forward, keeping your focus firmly on enhancing your visitors’ experience, and getting the best possible return on your investment.

 

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis.

Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.

 

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A Great Hotel in Hexham

Roger and Magdalena Davy were used to running a successful, busy gastro pub in the popular area of Richmond in Surrey.  After building up the trade and obtaining excellent Trip Advisor reviews they decided they wanted to move onto a new challenge.

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Inveraray Inn

Stewart Hindley & Partners play key role in acquisition of historic Scottish hotel

The Argyll Hotel opened in 1755 and is located at the entrance to Inveraray Castle in the historic Scottish town of Inveraray. The town’s location on the shores of Loch Fyne means it is a popular destination for international and domestic tourists.

Our client, The Byrne family, approached us for assistance in raising bank finance for the acquisition of the Argyll Hotel. The family intended to expand their business through this acquisition, adding the hotel to their existing Best Western-branded hotel in nearby Crianlarich, just north of Loch Lomond.

http://www.inveraray-inn.co.uk/

http://www.crianlarich-hotel.co.uk/

The lead director of the family’s hotel company, Mr Geaspar Byrne, is based in the Far East, necessitating many early morning Skype calls for the team. These calls were instrumental in ensuring a good flow of communication between our client, us and the lender. This is always an important factor when pulling together a high quality business plan. For Stewart Hindley & Partners the relationship with our clients is the most important thing and the satisfaction of being instrumental in helping a client achieve their goals makes all the effort worthwhile.

One of the challenges for raising finance was to convince the lender that the synergy between the hotels would be a profitable one and that with good in-house management both hotels could benefit from bulk purchasing and centralisation of operating systems. It was also important to show that our client was not only experienced within the hospitality sector but that the plans going forward were affordable, doable and above all manageable. Happily, all this was successfully achieved and we secured competitive financing terms on behalf of our client not only for the Argyll Hotel acquisition but also for a complete refinancing of the Crianlarich Hotel.

Upon completion of the transaction, the family conducted a re-branding exercise and the new hotel is now trading under its original name of The Inveraray Inn.

Geaspar Byrne said: “We as a family are thrilled to be the new owners of The Inveraray Inn. This historic hotel is one of the most iconic hotels in the West of Scotland and compliments our other asset perfectly. We could not be happier with the services provided by Stewart Hindley & Partners and would not hesitate to recommend them to others.”

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City Centre Limited Serviced Hotel

The City of Gloucester is an historic City located in the Cotswolds and is popular both with tourists and business visitors.  Our client, who already owned and operated a hotel in Cheltenham, recognised the need for a niche limited service hotel within Gloucester and set about looking for a suitable property.

A site was found in the centre of Gloucester which suited the type of accommodation our client wanted to offer.  After liaising with the local council and being satisfied that the council supported his plans the next step was securing the finance with which to purchase the premises. That’s where Stewart Hindley & Partners came in, we had previously worked with the client on another project and he was happy to work with us again on this one knowing the level of commitment we give to each case and the professionalism we provide on the debt proposal.

The finance was a challenge in that limited service hotels are a fairly new concept in the UK and the lenders were initially reluctant to lend, however, we presented a comprehensive business plan together with his current trading accounts and projected accounts which provided them with all the information they required providing a level of confidence which is sometimes lacking in non-professional applications.

Meetings between the lender, Stewart Hindley & Partners and the client were conducted on and off site and all queries were answered.  With the help of our client we were able to show that Gloucester City Council had a strategic plan for the town as a whole and that a new shopping development would enhance the need for this type of hotel, as well as the need for a cost effective business travel solution.  Ultimately the lender was happy to offer debt at 65% LTV at a great rate of 2.35% gross over a 20 year period.  The deal has now gone through to completion.

What is a Limited Service Hotel?

A limited service hotel is one that provides a good standard of accommodation with basic self -catering facilities in the rooms i.e. tea/coffee making equipment and microwave.  There are no bar or restaurant facilities on site.  As this particular hotel is based in the centre of the town it is easy for guests to visit restaurants and other food outlets if they don’t wish to cater for themselves.  By offering a limited service the hotel is able to provide a good standard of accommodation, in a town centre location for a budget price.

Hotel Business Recovery Perth & Kinross

These clients had been experiencing difficulties with the payment of VAT and PAYE due to a decline in trading and a slump drop in visitor numbers to the locality. Our clients were also under pressure from their bankers as they were in breach of their debt service covenants and as a consequence were at risk that their bank would call in their loan.

The Objective

Hospitality Business Recovery specialist, Stewart Hindley LLP, was approached to liaise with HMRC with the aim of agreeing a realistic debt repayment structure based on their ability to pay down debt over an agreed period of time.

The Business Recovery Solution

Stewart Hindley assigned a Senior Partner to take direct responsibility for liaising and negotiating with HMRC to reach a consensual agreement to meet the VAT and PAYE arrears.

During this process Stewart Hindley also liaised and worked with their client’s bank on a financial restructuring solution to support their hospitality business and debt to ensure that they could meet the historic debt.

The Result

Moving forward, the business was able to meet its current and future obligations to the bank and other creditors and improve its revenue and cash flow.

Comments

“Our previous accountants had no real understanding of our trade and had failed to advise us of an appropriate trading structure should we be unable to meet our liabilities. As a consequence we almost lost our business and our home due to debt collection measures from HMRC.

Stewart Hindley resolved our situation within a matter of weeks. Without their support we would have lost everything!”.

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Hotel finance case study – Derbyshire

The Objective

Chris & Zoe Hipwell planed to relocate back to the UK after 25 years in Los Angeles; they were referred by their commercial agent to Stewart Hindley & Partners as specialists in the hotel finance sector. Working with Stewart Hindley & Partners, they then searched for a boutique hotel that met their requirements. Most importantly it had to be one that was fundable, as Chris & Zoe had no current UK credit history.

The Solution

Even whilst Chris & Zoe where still residing in Los Angeles, After securing a decision in-principle Hindley and Partners was able to:

  • Help identify Hodgkinsons Hotel and Restaurant in the Peak District as a suitable property
  • Secure a decision in principle from a leading commercial lender, finding one that specialised in British Expats wishing to return to the UK to purchase hospitality businesses
  • Source long term finance options based on Chris & Zoe being “new to trade” operators.

The Result

A hotel loan was secured on advantageous terms which allowed for a degree of flexibility whilst they became familiar with the trade. This ensured they were able to meet their loan commitments to the lender and allowed them to concentrate on developing their trade and establish the business going forward.

Comments

Stewart Hindley & Partners dealt with every aspect of the debt and transaction which included the valuation report and agreement of the goodwill and fixtures and fittings apportionment, to maximize our SDLT allowance, whilst we where still living in Los Angeles.

All that was required of us was to meet the lender on our return to the UK and sign on the dotted line! We can’t thank them enough, as it was thoroughly professional process which allowed us to concentrate on relocating back to the UK.

Chris & Zoe Hipwell
Hodgkinsons Hotel & Restaurant

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Scottish hotel finance case study

The Objective

Ian & Rena Watson relocated back to Scotland from Bermuda with the aim of capitalising on their previous experience as hotel owners and operators in Scotland by purchasing another concern.

After viewing several hotels that met their requirements they offered on the Cullen Bay Hotel in Moray. This concern offered the Watsons the opportunity to develop the trades, particularly Weddings and Functions.

The objectives were:

    • To secure debt on the best hotel loan terms based on Ian and Rena being proven hotel operators, returning to the trade
    • To secured the hotel finance within a 6 week period, in order to meet a completion date in time to capture the lucrative summer trading period.

The Solution

Stewart Hindley & Partners:

        • Carried out an in-depth analysis of the trading accounts for the concern going back over three years
        • Compiled a three year profit and loss forecast and comprehensive business plan
        • Made a submission to the commercial property lenders based on:

The Governments Funding for Lending Scheme
A standard variable rate hotel loan term, that met the lenders debt service criteria
Stewart Hindley & Partners set of adjusted vendors accounts restating the actual trading profit.

The Result

        • Hotel loan offers were secured from two commercial property lenders with one offering 2% cash back from Governments Funding for Lending Scheme notwithstanding advantageous rates and terms for the period of the loan.
        • This enabled the Watsons to complete their purchase within the stated time frame, allowing them to:
          • Meet the vendor’s target completion date, as well as
          • To take advantage of the lucrative summer trading period.

Comments

“Stewart Hindley & Partners worked tirelessly to ensure that our tight timescales were met despite the difficulties of the overall conveyancing process and the lenders security requirements.
“They kept us fully informed throughout the entire process and dealt with every aspect of the transaction, which included the valuation report and agreement of the goodwill and fixtures and fittings apportionment. This, in itself was complex and required a full and comprehensive understanding of taxation and allowances to ensure our best interests were met”.

Ian & Rena Watson
Cullen Bay Hotel

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Scottish Commercial property finance case study

The Objective

John Noonan a self employed hospitality consultant and his business partner John Galloway, a Regional Manager with a leading pub and restaurant company decided to pool their respective skill sets and capital to purchase the Eskdale Hotel, Langholm, Dumfriesshire.

Due to a retirement sale, this property offered them tremendous scope for revenue development and capital growth whilst affording them a true life-style business opportunity complementing their invaluable experience in the hospitality sector.

The Solution

Given the trade was in decline due to the vendor’s ill health and pending retirement, the accounts did not reflect the true commercial potential of the property which is located in Langholm, a historic town nestling amidst the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.

Stewart Hindley & Partners undertook the whole debt raising process and prepared adjusted accounts based on industry norms. These were underpinned by comparable financial data of similarly profiled concerns, for the purpose of commercial property lenders debt servicing requirements.

Given that the Eskdale Hotel’s trade was predominately “wet led” we worked with our clients to develop a viable business plan. This was based on a mix of revenues focusing on food and accommodation and repositioned the concern as a destination venue; so fulfilling the lenders criteria for the sector and debt servicing.

The Result

The hotel loan offered, over a term of 20 years, enabled our clients to purchase the Eskdale Hotel at a price that allowed them to invest the balance of their capital for refurbishment. This, in turn, enabled them to improve revenues and reposition the Eskdale as a destination venue for visitors and locals alike.

Comments

Stewart Hindley & Partners proposed an elegant solution debt which met our and the hotel lending criteria, which allowed us to reduced the deposit required which resulted and allowed for additional capital to be invested into the business.

We were able focus on our plans for the Eskdale Hotel without the pressure of raising debt which had been subsequently declined by other lenders. From the outset Stewart Hindley & Partners gave us the confidence that they could make this happen for us. We can’t thank them enough for their efforts.

John Noonan & John Galloway
Eskdale Hotel, Langholm

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Hotel finance – Business Recovery case study – Woodlands Lodge

The Objective

Rob and Imogene Anglaret, both of whom worked in the City of London, had a life long ambition to purchase a hotel in the New Forest. They identified the Woodlands Lodge as being perfect for their requirements. Woodlands Lodge had been on the market for a number of years and due to its declining profitability represented a hotel funding challenge (even for a proven operator, let alone first time operators) where new debt can’t be adequately serviced for the trading profit.

The Solution

Stewart Hindley & Partners prepared projections for a three year period going forward, to offer a business recovery solution. This required a restructuring of the financials to represent industry norms and meetings with several lenders to prove that the business could meet debt criteria under a “fair and maintainable trade concept.

The Result

  • hotel loan was secured on advantageous terms (considering that Rob & Imogene were new-to-trade operators) on the basis that the business improved upon its profitability by reducing excessive overheads and through revenue development.
  • Since the Anglarets acquired the business they have successfully returned the business to profitability and have significantly improved the trade and the general appeal of the hotel to existing and prospective guests.

Comments

Stewart Hindley & Partners invested a great deal of time and resources in securing this debt; when we approached our own bank they agreed in-principle, but then declined on the basis of the hotel’s profitability and that as unproven operators we may not have the wherewithal to activate a [business recovery]

Stewart Hindley & Partners secured offers from two commercial property lenders allowing us to make a clear business choice and negotiate the best deal.

Stewart Hindley also secured a residential mortgage on our behalf on the adjacent house to the hotel.
They dealt with every aspect of these transactions, which included the valuation report and agreement of the goodwill and fixtures and fittings apportionment, and the “Share Purchase Agreement” which in itself was complex and required a full and comprehensive understanding of taxation and allowances to ensure our best interests were met for the future.

Rob & Imogene Anglaret
Woodlands Lodge Hotel

http://www.woodlands-lodge.co.uk

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Commercial property lending case study – Rivenhall

The Objective

Mark Venkatasami a proven health-care operator, wished to diversify into the hotel sector to provide additional health-care related services and conference facilities rather than hiring these facilities from nearby hotels and conference venues, he decided that a hotel would offer synergy with his existing business interests.

Mark offered on the Rivenhall Hotel and Spa which was accepted by the joint administrators, subject to hotel finance.

The Solution

  • As the concern was in administration, no accounts or warranties could be offered. As a consequence, securing hotel lending would be on a closed value (bricks & mortar), rather than off open market value, which would have required a high deposit.
  • As the disparity between open and closed values was substantial, the commercial property lenders agreed to take a charge over other assets to secure the debt quantum required to proceed with purchase, without the need for personal guarantees.

The Result

The hotel finance deal offered enabled Mark to purchase Rivenhall at a competitive price over a term of 20 years with an initial 5 year fix to provide certainty in regard to debt service. The deal went forward on the fixed rate for the initial term, thereafter reverting to a standard variable rate.

Given the administration process and the declining revenue, standard debt servicing criteria would not have been met. Stewart Hindley & Partners proposed an elegant solution that met the lenders criteria and reduced the deposit required.

This allowed for additional capital to be invested into the business, rather than making weight with bank debt.

Stewart Hindley & Partners:

  • undertook the whole debt raising process and
  • prepared forensic accounting services to substantiate the trade undertaken at Rivenhall for the purpose of the lenders debt servicing requirements
  • carrying this out on their standard “no win no fee” terms, despite the substantial up-front professional fees incurred in their debt submission to the lenders. Other brokers had demanded up-front fees given the difficulty of securing the quantum of debt required.

Comments

All in all a successful outcome from a professional team of industry experienced accountants and brokers with real “hands on” operational experience. Stewart Hindley & Partners provided a high degree of confidence to all parties concerned in this challenging transaction.

Mark Venkatasami
Rivenhall Hotel & Spa

http://www.rivenhallhotel.com/