"Robust AM will grow in importance post pandemic" says Amaris Hospitality, winner of HAMA Awards

Islington

The HAMA Europe Asset Management Achievement Awards, in partnership with IHIF and HAMA Europe, provide an opportunity to formally recognise results of successful asset management strategies accomplished by the winning companies across three categories; Single Asset Strategy, Portfolio Strategy and Sustainability Strategy. We sat down with Peter Stack, CEO, Amaris Hospitality Limited (owned by the LRC Group), to discuss their achievement as Overall Winner of the 2020 awards, sponsored by HotStats, as well as Winner of Single Asset Strategy.

1. Describe your project/property.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Angel Kings Cross is located in the heart of Islington, a two-minute walk from Angel tube station and less than a mile from Kings Cross – St. Pancras station. Following the completion of the project, the hotel now has 381 bedrooms, Marco Pierre White Restaurant and 6 meeting rooms.

Amaris Hospitality and LRC identified an opportunity to extend, re-brand and re-position the property and commenced an ambitious plan, over two phases, to deliver long-term sustainable returns through smart investment in the physical asset, our colleagues and the business culture. 

The project comprised of:

  • A new extension of 143 keys to the existing 229 key hotel
  • Five new meeting rooms and a new executive lounge
  • A rebrand of the hotel from a Jurys Inn to the international DoubleTree by Hilton brand
  • Reconfiguration of ground floor to accommodate 8 additional bedrooms
  • The addition of a one-bedroom suite from underutilised space
  • Development of three specially equipped fitness bedrooms
  • The re-location of executive lounge and re-development of six meeting rooms
  • A detailed and ongoing programme of driving the business with management techniques and tools and improving employee and guest engagement scores.


2. What made the project so successful / why did it win the award?

The DoubleTree by Hilton London Angel Kings Cross project was a perfect example of how to successfully deliver a multi-faceted, complex project and provide significant investor returns.

The complete transformation of the hotel over a number of years has clearly demonstrated the potential that sits within our market-leading portfolio and through expert asset management and operational excellence, there are opportunities to significantly increase hotel performance. In this particular case, the project yielded sizable returns including;

  • Increase in asset value of over 106%
  • Individual Project Yields of over 48%
  • IRRS in excess of 120%
  • Significant annual EBITDA increases through both phases

Phase 2, in isolation, not only delivered significant investor returns but re-positioned the hotel within a top international brand, setting it up for future success within its market whilst delivering:

  • GOPPAR Increase of 15.6%
  • EBITDAR Increase of over 18%
  • RevPAR growth of 13.2%
  • Utilities reduced by 7% per available room from 2016 - 2019
  • Employee Satisfaction index on top tier of Industry average: 90% (2019)
  • Hilton Quality Assurance Outstanding rating 2019 of 94%
  • Customer metrics improved 6% on overall experience and 8.5% on Net Promoter Score
  • Competitor Quality Index at 104%
  • Improved reputation online with certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor
  • Sustainability Award Hilton EMEA achieved 2018 (Teaching Kids to Care in the community)


While phase 1 & 2 are complete, further work to continue improving the services at the hotel are currently in planning, including new developments in relation the food and beverage offering.

3. How has the COVID crisis affected the property and the way it’s been managed?

The DoubleTree by Hilton Angel Kings Cross has felt the impact of the COVID crisis along with the entire hospitality industry in the UK and around the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, we invested significantly in robust health and safety procedures across our entire hotel operations, delivering an extensive training programme with all employees, as well as the provision of PPE and rigorous cleaning regimes. In recognition of our response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the hotel was awarded the ‘Safe to Trade’ industry accreditation. We have also implemented Hilton’s CleanStay programme which has been designed to deliver industry-defining standards of cleanliness and disinfection.

Amaris Hospitality has remained dedicated to delivering outstanding returns for its investors and exceptional customer service for its guests and remains focused on providing the local team with the leadership, guidance and support required to deliver operational excellence, exceptional customer experiences and superior performance through the development of our product. Notwithstanding the current challenges facing the hospitality sector, it is more important than ever to ensure we’re in a strong position to drive growth and deliver for customers as we look to the future.

4. How do you expect the role of the asset manager to change in the future?

The role of robust asset management will only grow in importance in a post pandemic world. At Amaris Hospitality, we strongly believe that having the right people, with the right expertise and utilising modern technology systems will be critical to optimising hotel performance in the future and staying abreast with the latest trends in hospitality to exceed customer expectations.

As this case study has demonstrated, it is a combination of these elements, combined with a clear vision and the right hotel brand which are key to delivering sustainable growth. As we move out of this crisis, the expertise and knowledge that hotel management companies like Amaris have developed over many years will be increasingly important to hotel owners and investors.

5. What do you see as the major trends in hospitality real estate post-pandemic?

Despite the challenges of the past 12 months, the Hospitality industry remains robust and will rebound strongly from the current crisis.

Management platforms such as Amaris which have been well invested in and developed over number of years will be key to driving competitive advantage.  

Investment in new tools to support the development of our people in the workplace and to support efficiency and effectiveness in relation to hotel operations and health and safety will also be a key ongoing trend for the foreseeable future.

Finally, a management company such as Amaris, a hospitality organisation with a clear track record of delivering growth, investor returns through smart investments and experience of partnering with the right international brands will become increasingly important to owners and investors alike.

For more information on our 2020 award winners click here.