Von Essen tempts top agent back to hotels
Private hotel group Von Essen has poached one of the UK’s leading hotel property agents from Knight Frank to lead its ambitious expansion plans.The group has appointed Martin Rogers, head of hotels at Knight Frank, as its estates and development director. He will join the group on 1 May, earning a rumoured six-figure salary.
Rogers, who grew up in the hotel industry and ran a hotel for four years before becoming a chartered surveyor, said he had decided to join the group because he wanted to get back to the “sharp end” of the hotel business.
‘If you have been in hotels, it becomes part of your blood’, he said. ‘I love working with the public and doing everything that goes with hotels. I’ve missed that.’
Rogers has worked for Knight Frank for 10 years and has headed its hotels division for the past four years.In his new role, he will be in charge of Von Essen’s acquisitions and will oversee the development of the existing estate. The 15-strong group is on an aggressive acquisition trail and hopes to expand to a total of 30 hotels, including one in London, two in France and two in Italy.
Von Essen is currently in discussions on two hotels in London, understood to be the Lanesborough and, possibly, the Connaught. It is also close to completing the acquisition of the 21-bedroom Greenway hotel in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and another hotel in Devon.
The deal to acquire a second property in Scotland, believed to be the 17-bedroom Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, is close to completion, as are agreements on hotels in Hampshire, Sussex and the Lake District. The group has also identified one of the two properties it wants in France.
Von Essen has a war chest of about £100m to spend on UK acquisitions, excluding the £100m it is expected to spend on its London hotel.This year, the group will also spend an initial £25m on the development of its existing estate, adding extra bedrooms and spa facilities to much of its portfolio.
Von Essen is led by Andrew Davies, with money from a family trust set up by his Austrian aunt, the Countess Von Essen. The company bought its first hotel 10 years ago and now employs 2,500 people.