Real Estate & Art de Vivre
© Domaine de Rochebois – Dordogne
As a result of the health crisis, new desires have emerged - getting closer to nature is one of them - and have clearly shaken up a market with well-established standards, even though it was already slowly evolving towards a new style of business model. This trend of going green and seeking refuge has therefore benefited the precursors of this hotel model and has allowed them to achieve a successful 2020 summer season. Hotel groups see this as an opportunity to diversify their offer through the acquisition of properties and castles in the countryside, on the coast, and even in the mountains.
Investing in a building far from a major city and without direct access to public transportation was unthinkable for many hotel groups a few years ago. But then Covid-19 came along. With it, the disappearance of foreign and business travelers. Hence the general realization that urban hotels are no longer the only interesting market segment for these groups, which are seeking to diversify their offer, particularly towards the already popular resorts, which are becoming even more so today. 'Today's hotel clientele is primarily French and looking for a real experience. They no longer come just to sleep, but to discover the territories, landscapes, activities and local products,' explains Bertrand Couturié, Director of BARNES Propriétés et Châteaux.
Linking the hotel concept to the 'countryside refuge' model: this is the new desire of French tourists. A desire that has been increased tenfold by the democratization of telecommuting, which today allows employees to get away from the nuisances of the city (pollution, noise, small spaces, etc.) and to work in more relaxing locations. And sometimes for long periods of time. 'Tomorrow's hotel products will have to take this new demand into account. It will be interesting, for example, to be able to transform a large room and adapt it into a living space with small kitchen or office areas in a historic, open-air location to offer longer stays. We are also seeing these concepts of long stays in vacation locations develop internationally', comments Gwenael Bourban, Director of BARNES Hotels EMEAA.
In this logic and this quest for space, the castle remains the dream product: it must have at least 25 rooms and several hectares of land, which will allow to propose various activities. The goal? That the residents can get out of their routine at any time. 'Family offices are very interested in this type of hotel in the countryside, with a more lifestyle and nature approach,' comments Gwenael Bourban. The presence of a lake or a body of water for water sports activities, a stud farm for horseback riding, or even cabins for 'unusual housing' are all appreciated. 'It should be noted that manor houses, with up to seven bedrooms, are now particularly sought after by individuals who wish to invest in a real refuge for the whole family,' adds Bertrand Couturié.
If this hotel model is popular, it is also for its ecological and environmental values: the consequence of a change in mentality, certainly. 'People have really become aware of their impact on nature. This new hotel concept must therefore meet the expectations of customers, such as the creation and exploitation of vegetable gardens or orchards; local products are then used to prepare meals, in addition to those of local producers, in a logic of promoting short circuits,' analyzes Bertrand Couturié.
While the BARNES Hotels department, launched at the end of 2019, was very quickly impacted by Covid-19 and travel restrictions, it was able to take advantage of this desire to go green to partner with BARNES Propriétés et Châteaux. Common objective? To offer large hotel groups and family offices castles with all the necessary characteristics to offer a true 'nature' experience to tourists.
In the short and medium term, this demand should intensify. For several reasons: 'With the current limitations on travel abroad, French customers are rediscovering the regions, the diversity of the territories and their treasures. Hotel groups already present in this segment hope to retain and develop this 'domestic' clientele, which will be added to the foreign clientele once the restrictions are behind us,' concludes Gwenael Bourban.
According to Bertrand Couturié, another advantage of this new interest by hotel groups in these historic properties? The preservation of French heritage, quite simply.
Created in 2019, BARNES Hotels EMEAA operates in all segments of corporate hotel investment, particularly 4 and 5* hotels with 30 to 150 rooms in France and Europe in holiday resorts: Sardinia, Greece, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Costa Del Sol in Spain, and in capital cities, Paris, Madrid, Rome... but also internationally in the MEAA zone: Saint Barthelemy, Seychelles, New York...
The BARNES Hotels department assists all types of investors: wealthy private owners, family offices, foreign capital partners, institutional investors (listed, AMF approved, SIIC...), hotel operators, European real estate companies...
For more information please contact Gwenael Bourban, BARNES Hotels Advisory director.