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Hotel Operator Beat | December 2021

Bruno Hallé • 04/01/2022
Hotel chains believe that holiday and inland destinations, as well cities such us Madrid and Málaga, will be the first to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

  • Some 60% of the chains interviewed consider that Barcelona will not recoup the previous level of activity until 2024 or 2025. In contrast, some 31% feel that inland destinations will get back to 2019 levels in 2022.

  • Only 21% of hotel chains have been able to sustain their project schedules.

  • Chains consider Madrid and Málaga to be the most interesting destinations in terms of business development.

Madrid/Barcelona, December 22, 2021 - The main conclusions of the second Hotel Operator Beat report, produced by Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality regarding the Iberian mainland, show that the most optimistic forecasts of 2020 have not come to fruition due to the complex global health situation. The survey considers the opinions on the outlook for the hotel industry of businesses encompassing a total of 1,700 establishments and more than 127,000 rooms in Spain and Portugal.

Bruno Hallé, Partner and Co-head of Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality Spain, indicates that “the opinion of hotel chain executives points toward business plans being focused around 2023, performance similar to that of the pre-pandemic years being anticipated for 2022 solely in a few specific destinations”. The table shows that hoteliers have the greatest confidence in Madrid as a destination, with 81% believing that the city will recoup its level of tourism in 2023. This is in contrast to Barcelona, where only 37% believe the same. In terms of pace, hoteliers believe that holiday destinations will recover more quickly, with some 34% expecting optimum results in 2022.

According to destination, when will the market recover?

CW Operator Beat Hospitality 01

(Source: Cushman & Wakefield)

Mountain and inland destinations will also benefit from the consequences of Covid in that demand is more favourable towards nearby destinations and natural surroundings where there is a greater feeling of safety in terms of health. As a result, some 65% of chains believe that inland destinations will get back to 2019’s figures between 2022 and 2023. At 63%, the percentage is similar for mountain destinations.

Only some 21% are holding on to their development plans unhindered by the pandemic.

One of the questions of the Cushman & Wakefield report focused on whether hotel chains’ development plans had been maintained or suffered delays over the past two years. Only 21% of the chains declared that their plans had not been subject to any delay. In contrast, some 51% acknowledged delays of up to 30% and another 16% recognised that the progress of more than 50% of their projects had decelerated. For Albert Grau, Partner and Co-Head of Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality Spain, “given that the situation is entirely exceptional, it comes as no surprise that there are projects that have been put back. It is, however, significant that the lion’s share of chains are continuing to push ahead with the majority of their plans despite difficulties, though at a somewhat slower pace”.

What percentage of new projects have been delayed?

CW OperatorBeat Dec2021 - 02

(Source: Cushman & Wakefield)

Financing is the main cause behind the slowing down of projects

The reasons leading to delays or the paralysis of projects are varied, although funding represents the main cause in some 30% of cases. This, together with some 15% reporting capital issues, represents the main grounds for slowing down projects. Other major reasons include changes in the commercial environment, at some 26%, along with increases in project costs (19%).
In the opinion of Bruno Hallé, “although hotel chains are making an effort to stick to their business plans, the market situation, financing and the availability of capital represent major challenges that must be tackled in order to pursue these”.

What are the reasons behind delays to projects? (2020-2021)

CW-OperatorBeat-Dec 21-03

(Source: Cushman & Wakefield)

Contracts are tending towards greater flexibility due to the impact of the pandemic

The context of uncertainty has led to a trend towards hotel contract renewal and new contract negotiations offering greater flexibility such that risk may be better balanced between all parties. In keeping with this, the majority of contracts have seen the incorporation of articles that we could define as “pandemic” clauses, the purpose of which, following the experience that we have endured, is to ensure the absence of any need to reopen negotiations in the event of a lack of transparency such as that which appeared as of March 2020.

CW-OperatorBeat-Dec 2021-04

These trends are mirrored in new contract types, clear growth being evident in terms of variable rent. The hotel chains surveyed acknowledged that variable rent contracts have grown by some 63%, whereas fixed rent agreements are clearly on the decline due to the need for flexibility on the part of operators. For Albert Grau, “given that the market was already evolving towards these types of hotel contracts, the aforementioned trend will remain in place, the pandemic merely having accelerated this transformation”.


Madrid and Malaga lead the ranking of most attractive destinations for hotel chains

Hotel chains feel that the most attractive destinations in Spain and Portugal, on which they are continuing to focus their growth, are, in sequence, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, Lisbon and Porto. Having suffered attrition of one tenth of a percentage point from the figure for the previous year (to 3.8), Barcelona sits in contrast to cities whose attractiveness has grown during 2021. The opinion of hotel operators regarding Barcelona contrasts with that of investors, in that the most recent Investor Beat report highlighted the Catalan capital as being the most attractive in Europe for hotel investment.

Most attractive cities for hotel chains in Spain and Portugal


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The Berlin IHIF is the perfect opportunity to share ideas with leaders in the hotel sector and gain first-hand knowledge of the trends and strategies that we will see in the coming months. Questex is the event organiser for the forum, held at Berlin’s InterContinental hotel as in previous years. This year will also see the return of Adjacent Spaces at The Pullman Hotel. This pop-up event will analyse alternative proposals and trends in the industry, including hostels, co-working, co-living spaces and serviced apartments.

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Bruno Hallé
Bruno Hallé

Partner, Co – Head of Hospitality
Barcelona, Spain

+34 93 467 21 87

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Albert Grau
Albert Grau

Partner, Co – Head of Hospitality
Barcelona, Spain

+34 93 467 50 03

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