Qatar to buy Martinez, as Carlton to be “flipped”

A Qatari investment vehicle is poised to buy a $900m portfolio of five-star European hotels, which includes MIPIM icon, the Martinez, in Cannes.

The sale comes as another legendary MIPIM hotel, the Carlton, is being sold on to another Qatar-based investor, Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad.

The two hotels form the focal point for meetings and late-night drinking during the annual week-long property expo, which takes place next week.

The state of Qatar is understood to be in exclusive talks to buy Starwood Capital’s Groupe du Louvre portfolio, which comprises hotels across France, Germany and Switzerland. The investment vehicle that will control the portfolio is yet to be decided.

Investors from the Gulf state are said to be in talks to buy “the lion’s share, if not all” of the portfolio and are understood to be teaming up with high-end hotel operator Hyatt.

The portfolio includes the 409-bedroom Hotel Martinez on La Croisette in Cannes; the Villa Massalia hotel in Marseille; the 188-bedroom Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice; the 950-bedroom Concorde La Fayette, the 177-bedroom Hotel du Louvre and the Concorde Opera Paris hotel in Paris; Hotel Concorde Berlin; and the Hotel de la Paix in Geneva.

The hotels, which were put up for sale in September through UBS and Jones Lang LaSalle, comprise four freeholds, three leaseholds and
one fonds de commerce lease.

Starwood Capital bought the Concorde-branded portfolio in 2005 through the acquisition of hotel and champagne business Groupe Taittinger. The purchase included hotel company Société du Louvre, which owned the Concorde assets.

The talks come as Qatari investors take a keen interest in high-end European hotel assets. The Carlton, also on the Croisette boulevard in Cannes, is being sold on by Lebanese investor Toufic Aboukhater to Qatari investor Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad.

Property Week revealed in April that former Dorchester owner Aboukhater was buying the hotel as part of a €450m portfolio of seven Intercontinental hotels from Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds. He is now selling on the Carlton to make a quick profit.

In January the Qatar National Hotels Company bought the Raffles Hotel Singapore and Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, while in November Qatari investor Al Faisal Holding completed its purchase of the W Hotel in London’s Leicester Square from McAleer & Rushe for just less than £200m.

All parties involved declined to comment.

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