December, 2018 - Travel Weekly reports on this month's news that high-end hospitality group Belmond had been acquired by Paris-based luxury conglomerate LVMH. Belmond's holdings include 46 hotels, restaurants, trains and river cruise ships across 24 countries, with the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, 21 Club restaurant in New York and Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train service in Europe being the company's more well-known assets. The deal values the Belmond business at USD $3.2 billion. It is expected to close in early 2019.
Quoting LVMH CFO Jean-Jacques Guiony, the news bulletin reveals that for LVMH, "the future of luxury will not only be in luxury goods, as it's been for many years, but also in luxury experiences." Speaking to hospitality insider Bjorn Hanson, Travel Weekly reports that "this is one of the most exciting lodging stories of 2018 and as it plays out will be one of the most exciting lodging stories of 2019. One of the reasons it's exciting is because LVMH knows how to deal with luxury buyers of all kinds. This will allow Belmond - which, frankly, has never achieved anything near its potential - to have a totally fresh approach that comes from outside the lodging sector."
AETHOS Managing Director Thomas Mielke adds in the Travel Weekly report to Hanson's comments: "Based on the timid progress of its own in-house hotel brands, some might argue that LVMH would have otherwise found it difficult to gain any sort of substantial market share in the hospitality space. This is a chance to acquire a luxury hospitality portfolio with a strong distribution platform in place, [and] LVMH is able to tap into a highly competent management team whose senior leadership comes from large and successful international hotel operating companies, most notably Starwood and Hyatt."
Mielke is further quoted saying, "some other luxury hotel brands, such as Aman and the Oetker Collection, have recently moved into retail, aiming to offer an extension of the branded lifestyle into peoples' homes. Given the plethora of brands LVMH controls, one can only assume that Belmond will very quickly be ahead of its competitors in that area." He added that the affiliation with LVMH's highly recognizable brands could also help Belmond regain the "cachet some might say had been lost" when the company stopped licensing the Orient Express hotel brand name in 2014.
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