Four years ago Orient-Express Hotels rebranded as Belmond. They had been licensing the name Orient-Express, and they found that while the name seemed familiar (because of the train) it wasn’t really associated with the chain and didn’t drive bookings. Although it’s not clear that Belmond served them better.
Accor could be a buyer, they’re trying to build the Orient-Express brand and could pick up twice as many hotels as their current 2025 goal and goodness knows they buy everything else.
Hyatt is mentioned as a potential buyer, it’s hard to find too many hotel companies that have the resources to acquire a small luxury chain and for whom it would be worthwhile. Big players wouldn’t see three dozen hotels as moving the needle, though Hilton for instance could decide it would be a way to jump start Curio Collection or if they needed more than just one LXR Collection hotel.
Belmond would be a fabulous addition to Hyatt, from this consumer’s perspective. They have half a dozen luxury properties in Italy including the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. There are six properties in Peru, 3 in the U.S., and five in Southeast Asia (Bali, Koh Samui, Yangon, Luang Prabang, and Siem Reap). There are 3 hotels in Botswana and one in Capetown.
Belmond Cipriani, Venice
Complicating matters is that this isn’t a pure hotel play. They operate several trains, including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express sleeper — and the 21 Club in Manhattan. Hyatt could certainly sell themselves that this is part of the same lifestyle play that they’re making with the Miraval and Exhale Spas acquisition.