There are serious challenges ahead to finding suitable properties to convert into much-needed hotels, Ed John, a real estate partner in Shoosmiths' hotel practice, will tell industry experts at an event hosted by Colliers International in London tomorrow.
Ed will tell invited guests that due to undersupply of development land, pressures to preserve the character of the local built environment and conserve existing buildings - particularly in urban settings - in some locations the only feasible option is to convert old and sometimes historic buildings, preserving the character of towns, cities and wider communities in the process.
"There's no doubt that the business of converting existing buildings into hotels faces a number of challenges however, with constructive dialogue with local stakeholders, early engagement on design and planning as well as careful consideration of the issues well in advance of implementation, a conversion can yield some tremendous results" he said, ahead of the invitation-only event at Colliers International's centre in George Street.
"We have seen how some truly iconic buildings can be enhanced and their heritage preserved while at the same time boosting local economies and turning some former eyesores into hotels of which our communities can be proud. You only need to look at buildings like The Ned, the former Midland Bank head office in the City - named after Edward 'Ned' Lutyens, or The Dixon, after John Dixon Butler - the architect who originally constructed the building in 1905 as the Tower Bridge Magistrates' Court and police station to see what can be achieved with imagination - and a lot of hard work.
"This event will be a perfect opportunity for some of the industry's brightest figures to get together, celebrate its successes but, more importantly, to share ideas for how we can continue to grow in this space and to develop ideas on how to tackle these challenges head-on."
Marc Finney, head of hotels and resorts consulting at Colliers, said: "We are in a window of opportunity right now for hotel development. Three or four years ago, following the financial crash, you could buy an existing hotel for less than the cost of construction - it didn't make sense.
"Since then, starting in London but spreading quickly to Edinburgh, Manchester and other major markets, we can now see a plethora of UK cities and towns where development profits are available again.
"With the availability of clean sites few and far between in good central locations, there is an obvious spotlight on the opportunities that conversions can bring."
As part of the event, hospitality industry expert Jonathan Langston will be interviewing keynote speaker Dexter Moren, founding director of Dexter Moren Associates, who will be lending his insight on the 25 years of his leading hotel architecture practice.
Other speakers include Marc Finney, head of hotels and resorts consulting at Colliers International, Ben Turner, a partner in Shoosmiths LLP's hotel practice; Paul Cook, head of technology at ISG; Jonathan Manns, head of the UK regeneration team at Colliers; as well as Colliers' head of UK hotel valuations David Hossack; Ben Godon and Allan Davidson, directors of Colliers' specialist hospitality asset management practice.
Andrew Sangster will moderate a panel with industry experts, which includes Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank's head of hotels Shona Pushpaharan, Colliers International's head of hospitality management Clive Hillier, PPHE director of acquisitions and development Sabina Wyss di Corrado, and Adela Cristea, senior director, head of business development, UK and Ireland at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group for Radisson.