03-03-2022

Venice, many five-star hotels are changing ownership, but this has nothing to do with Bill Gates

International funds and large hotel chains are stocking up on the most luxurious hotels in the lagoon, the protagonists of a new renaissance of Venetian hôtellerie

The magnificent view from the terrace of the Danie

The magnificent view from the terrace of the Danieli hotel in Venice: a few days ago, the news was that Bill Gates was about to buy it, which was later denied

Perhaps the most surprising news was that Bill Gates was to buy the historical Hotel Danieli in Venice. The gossip went around for days, but was later officially denied. The owners, Gruppo Statuto, who had bought it in 2005 from Starwood for 242 million euros, with a loan of 170 million divided between three banks, confirm that the legendary Venetian hotel, only 200 metres from Piazza San Marco, is still in their portfolio. The American magnate founder of Microsoft, known for being one of the richest men on Earth, as well as the majority stockholder of the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the Canadian giant leader in hospitality, lost the challenge to buy the legendary luxury five-star hotel, which over two centuries has welcomed in its luxurious rooms, noblemen, celebrities, politicians, like Goethe and Walt Disney, Charles Dickens and Steven Spielberg.

Private entrance from the canal, at Danieli

Private entrance from the canal, at Danieli

An official note from Statuto explained that the debt's deadline was in 2022, but due to the consequences of the 2020 lockdown, they've produced new bonds worth 330 million euros through a bond loan between two investors: Starwood Capital Group and King Street. On top of guaranteeing that Statuto will remain at the head of the hotel, this operation will also support the future renovation of the building, with works that are expected to cost around 30 million euros. Ready by 2024, the building once finished will be worth over 500 million euros. No change in terms of management contract either, with Marriott International, a collection of over 7K properties under 30 different brands in 131 countries, which has Danieli in its The Luxury Collection. «It's fully operational, and will continue to work regularly until the deadline», a spokesperson for Marriott International declared. «During this time, our guests will continue to enjoy the benefits of our multi-awarded Marriott Bonvoy programme» and the Group will remain in Venice with six hotels, including Gritti, The St. Regis Venice and JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa

Doge Dandolo Royal Suite

Doge Dandolo Royal Suite

In the meantime, at number 4196 in Riva degli Schiavoni, Danieli, the most ancient hotel in Venice which will turn 200 in 2022, is planning the celebration for this important anniversary. It is in the elegant setting of Palazzo Dandolo, built under doge Enrico Dandolo in the late 14th Century. According to the story, entrepreneur Giuseppe Dal Niel bought the second floor from noble woman Elena Michiel Bernardo in 1822, converting it into a hotel. Today it spreads over three buildings next to one another, including Palazzo Casanova, from the 19th century, and Palazzo Danieli Excelsior, called "Danielino" from the 20th century: they are connected via roofed bridges and include 204 magnificent rooms and suites, made precious by a rich collection of artworks and precious craftworks that are a testimony of the history of the city. The suites of Palazzo Dandolo, renovated based on a project by interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, are magnificent. The Signature Suites inspired by female celebrities of cinema, fashion and music are unique.

Terrazza Danieli

Terrazza Danieli

But Danieli is not the only luxury five-star hotel in the Lagoon to have become a target for large international investment funds, who seem to have a soft spot for the Serenissima. During the two years of the pandemic, twelve five-star hotels in Venice have changed ownership or management, but there are more big players about to buy the buildings, important management chains, magnates or niche realities in luxury hospitality. The interest of the protagonists of global hôtellerie makes Venice a «focus of attention and excellence», as observed by Salvatore Pisani, manager at Starwood and president of the Tourism section of Confindustria Venezia, when he commented the hypothesis of the arrival of Bill Gates in the Lagoon. A positive signal given the dramatic condition of the hospitality offer in Venice, after Covid 19. To this day, of the 450 members of the Associazione Veneziana Albergatori Ava, 150 are still closed, said President Vittorio Bonacini.

Belmond Cipriani

Belmond Cipriani

But this is only the beginning. In a matter of a few months, of the 23 hotels sold in Italy for 530 million euros, Venice was top of the list with transactions for 260 million, 49% of the total value. Indeed, the list of sales and new openings is long. Among others, group Accor (Sofitel in Papadopoli and Novotel in Mestre) is looking for new deals, but there are countless worksites and projects like the renovations of the Belmond Cipriani in Giudecca (handed to architect Peter Marino), the protagonist of many novelties, after being bought in 2018 by LVMH, world leader in luxury controlled by Bernard Arnault. On the island there are works going on at Hotel Palladio, bought by Stephan Courbit's Lov (from tv giant Banijay, which was also interested in buying Casa dei Tre Oci: it will open again in 2023 under the name Les Airelles).

Grand Hotel dei Dogi

Grand Hotel dei Dogi

Going back to 2020, one of the most significant operations was conducted by Covivio, a French company leader in real estate, which in September bought for 573 million euros the portfolio of hotels ex Boscolo: in total, eight luxury establishments including two in Venice, hotel Bellini in Cannaregio and Grand Hotel dei Dogi, not far from the church of the Madonna dell’Orto. Now managed by NH Hotels, who led some important renovations, they have been rebranded respectively as Hotel NH Venezia Santa Lucia and NH Collection Venezia Grand Hotel Palazzo dei Dogi. Near the Arsenale, in the Contemporary Art District, last October opened Ca’ di Dio, a building from 1272, reimagined by Patrizia Urquiola for Alpitour, who made an investment of 25 million euros. Scenic lights, which the starchitect shaped choosing glasswork from Murano like the large chandelier in the lobby with over 14K crystals.

Ca' di Dio

Ca' di Dio

In November 2020 renovations began at palazzo Donà Giovannelli, a building from the 15th century in Rio di Noale bought by Barletta. Transformed into a luxury hotel, it will be managed by Rosewood Hotels & Resort which already include 24 luxury properties in 15 countries (in Italia for instance it's already in Tuscany at Castiglion del Bosco) and 20 hotels currently under development.

Dona Giovannelli

Dona Giovannelli

In February 2021, Gruppo Baglioni from the Polito family sold for 100 million euros to the British Reuben Brothers the Luna Baglioni: a historic palace in the heart of Venice, it is one of the most luxurious and ancient hotels in San Marco, with 93 rooms and suites. Also in San Marco, in bacino Orseolo, in May for the same amount Eligio Paties (Do Forni) and business partner Giampaolo Dal Pos sold Bonvecchiati to Luxembourgish fund Ece - European Lodging Recovery Fund: with its 191 rooms, a restaurant, a bar, a spa and two berths, it's one of the largest hotels in the Lagoon.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Hôtellerie

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Elisabetta Canoro

by

Elisabetta Canoro

Professional journalist, consultant at Identità Golose, deputy editor at The CUBE Magazine and contributor at AD Architectural Digest italia and Panorama. Author of Guides and books edited by WhiteStar and Marco Polo

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