Top hotel goes up for sale again

A LONG-established Ipswich hotel is heading for its tenth change of ownership or management in 20 years after being put up for sale. The Belstead Brook Hotel in Ipswich is one of nine Swallow Hotels around England and Scotland being marketed by specialist hospitality sector agent Christie & Co on behalf of property investment company F&C Reit Asset Management.

A LONG-established Ipswich hotel is heading for its tenth change of ownership or management in 20 years after being put up for sale.

The Belstead Brook Hotel in Ipswich is one of nine Swallow Hotels around England and Scotland being marketed by specialist hospitality sector agent Christie & Co on behalf of property investment company F&C Reit Asset Management.

The 88-bedroom Belstead Brook is one of eight freehold properties up for sale, together with the Churchgate Hotel in Old Harlow, Essex, and other hotels in Carlisle, Durham, Gateshead, Glasgow, Newcastle and Preston.

A long leasehold hotel in Stockton-on Tees is also being marketed as part of the package, with the hotels being offered for sale either individually or as a group, free from existing management and branding. No guide prices have been disclosed.


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Tim Gooding, director at Christie & Co, said: “It is unusual that such a diverse range of assets, such as this, is brought to the market.

“These traditional hotels will have broad appeal for owner operators and investors looking to improve them through capital investment and re-branding. We anticipate multiple, competitive offers on these properties.”

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A sale of the Belstead Brook would represent the 10th change in management or ownership for the hotel since it was first sold 20 years ago by the Hatfield family, who acquired the property in 1956 and opened it as a hotel in 1962.

In 1988 the family sold the business to Europa Hotels & Leisure, which embarked upon a major expansion programme but went into receivership in 1991.

Ownership was transferred to Wimpole Hotels, a company set up as a turnaround vehicle for struggling hotels, with the management initially being taken over by the independent Suffolk-based Butterfly Hotel chain.

Control subsequently passed to East Anglian-based Manor Hotels, which in turn became part of the national Swallow Hotels chain, and just a year later, in 1999, Swallow was itself acquired by hotel and leisure giant Whitbread.

In 2003, having rebranded most of the properties under the Marriott or Renaissance identities, Whitbread put the 13 remaining Swallow hotels, including the Belstead Brook, up for sale. The freehold ownership and management again became split at this point, with the hotels being purchased by property company REIT and leased to London & Edinburgh Inns which acquired the Swallow brand.

When in 2006 London & Edinburgh went into administration, the present operator, Crerar Hotels, took over the Swallow brand and a total of 26 leases, including that of the Belstead Brook, saving around 80 jobs in the process.

The four other Swallow hotels acquired by REIT were sold off earlier this year. The decision to dispose of the remaining nine follows the merger last month of REIT with fund management group F&C, formerly Foreign & Colonial, for form F&C Reit.

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