2017 Deal of the Year finalists:
Reggie Shiu Development of the Year
ALILA FORT BISHANGARH
From Warrior Fort to Luxury Resort: Rebuilding the Past for the Future
Perched on top of a granite hillock in the midst of a vast expanse of the Aravalli Range, dotted with havelis, villages and temples, Alila Fort Bishangarh is the result of the adaptive reuse of a 230-year-old warrior fort. Adaptive reuse offers a sustainable option to preserve and revive an existing building by merging its traditional ideals with modern culture, usage and design techniques.
Built during Rajasthan’s royal era as an outpost guarding the kingdom of Jaipur against Northern invaders, the fort at Bishangarh had long outlived its original purpose. As it stood abandoned, inhabited by thousands of bats and monkeys, the owners took a visionary decision with Alila, to breathe new life into its reincarnation as a boutique resort.
What followed was an extraordinary journey of transformation to retain the original structure in its full integrity while reimagining it for the 21st century. Immense challenges had to be overcome – including stabilising and strengthening the ruins, constructing a road up to the fort, finding circulation through 3m thick walls, and deciphering the unconventional puzzle of the organic structure, which featured not a single 90-degree wall.
Upper and outer wings were adapted to the original fortification to carve out 59 suites in 23 different room configurations.To achieve the ‘cracked’ appearance on the plasterwork to match the old walls, the architects worked on numerous experimental mortar mixes using local stone dust. Positioning the vertical shafts was done using a traditional method of dropping ropes attached with torches, no easy feat given the fort has four lifts, two staircases and a kitchen lift for goods.
The design concept embraces elements of the Jaipur Gharana architecture, featuring Rajput and Mughal influences. A perfect example can be seen in the ‘Amarsar’ restaurant, where Tudor and Cusped arches harmoniously coexist. The walls were finished with modern adaptations of the traditional surkhi and araish, the dying Rajasthani plastering art resulting in glistening surfaces.
Rather than creating an ornate palace, the design direction is decidedly stark and spartan, marked by clean and uncluttered interiors judiciously woven with Rajasthani elements – Jharokha-style windows, stone Jaali work, brass embossed panels, Tarkashi work, hand block printed fabric, old-style doors and wall frescoes with Thikri mirror work. Local marble, granite, carpets, fabrics, artefacts, lighting and furniture all contribute to authenticate its adaptive reconstruction.
Turrets, cellars and secret passages have been turned into bars, lounges and creative spaces for dining and meetings. The royal living quarters are now the Amarsar restaurant. Nazaara, an outdoor grill dining terrace, dishes out Rajput and frontier cuisine involving sand-pit cooking and smoked meats. Madhuveni is where you find the cigar/cognac turret. The thick stone wall has openings for attacks on invading armies, which are being kept to promote natural air-conditioning. Kachhawa Lounge, where the secret royal escape route was found, now serves coffee, chai and cakes. The library now bears testimony to the old kingdom with its expansive holdings mapped out on the wall. Carved out between granite rocks in the old dungeon is the Spa Alila.
Owner: Knights & Kings Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd
Operator: Two Roads Hospitality
Architecture and Interiors: STHAPATYA Architects
Development Cost: approx. USD15 million
Bawah Island is a new world-class destination in South East Asia and it has just opened. It is a unique place by its diversity, the rare quality of its flora and waters and its great location making paradise on earth easily accessible from Singapore. Bawah Island is a conception of luxury focusing on simplicity in the sense of purity, rare natural experience, highest quality of products and services and simplification of choices for guests.
It is modeling a project, which integrates limited and responsible human activities, sustainable development and ecological systems. Clear commitments are made to the development of renewable energies, the protection of flora, wildlife and oceans, as well as the support to local communities. The ambition of the owners is to turn Bawah Island into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the next 10 years.
Bawah Island is situated only 300km North East of Singapore in the Indonesian Anambas region. It stands at around 2 hours by seaplane from Singapore. Bawah Island is actually a mini archipelago (classified as a protected marine park), which comprises a number of 6 islets that make up the whole.
It enjoys 13 beaches, 3 lagoons, 2 mangroves and a 150m height primary forest. By their collective fortuitous positions, this idyllic little cluster have created three natural lagoons, containing water with such gin-like clarity that the coral formations and fish below always appear within arm’s reach.
Unique features stand out in a number of ways like the manner in which you can traverse one of the lagoons by foot when the tide has receded far enough. Trekking the main island to reach the lookout points or paddling across the lagoons in kayak is just breathtaking.
A conscious effort has been made to create a fresh and unique hospitality experience and to offer a design that cannot be seen in other luxury resorts in South East Asia. The solution was to design the resort in bamboo with a mixture of craft, modernity and exoticism.
The inspiration for the public pavilions comes from the shapes of the archipelago itself. At a very early time of the project, decision was taken to develop the resort with no machineries. It took 5 years to build the resort. It could have been done quicker if machineries had been used, but it would have created a lot of erosion and killed the vegetation. Clearance was made only for the footprint of the constructions. It explains why the vegetation is so lush on the island.
39 villas of 2 types form the Resort: beach villas and water villas. Public areas comprise among others a luxury spa, a library, a water sport center, and a panoramic restaurant serving haute cuisine with local organic ingredients, all developed in complete harmony with the island. Around 130 employees will be pampering the 80 guests expected each day on the island. Activity ranging from yoga to pilates trekking, diving, kayaking with transparent kayaks, etc. will be offered on the island. No motor sports.
Owner: Private Consortium led by Tim Hartnoll
Architecture and Interiors: eco.id
Development Cost: approx. USD30 Million
Nestled in one of Japan’s best-preserved historical cities and a home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto opened its doors on Saturday 15, October 2016.
Set at the foot of Higashiyama Mountain in Kyoto’s district of temples, the hotel is a sanctuary of space minutes from the city’s cultural treasures and the bustle of downtown with double-height windows throughout that frame the surrounding beauty through every season.
You arrive through an alluring bamboo forest that leads to the sanctuary of an 800-year old pond garden “Shakusui-en” at its heart, a haven of quiet dignity, discreet expression and strong engagement with nature. Inspired by traditional artistry yet exhilaratingly contemporary, the hotel is a modern window into the rich history of this ancient capital city. The hotel encompasses some of the city’s most spacious 110 guest rooms and 13 suites plus 57 hotel residences; four dining venues including a beautiful tea house in the garden; an exclusive spa and indoor pool; and a series of sophisticated meeting spaces, with a custom-designed chapel for weddings and other events.
The guest rooms offer a personal space that embodies characteristics of a traditional Japanese house. As the evening approaches the softness of light played by the shoji paper lamps adds to the theatrical experience of the property and creates a space for both reflection and appreciation.
The hotel’s main dining is the Brasserie that offers modern European inspired cuisine using seasonal local Kyoto ingredients. The Lounge & Bar, leading off the Hotel’s spacious lobby, is a lounge during the day and a bar at night. Sip on a glass or Japanese whisky and enjoy the stunning views of Shakusui-en. Sushi Wakon is the creation of 2 Michelin-starred Chef Rei Masuda. Enjoy the sea’s freshest catches at the 10-seat Hinoki counter and take in the views of the Hotel’s pond garden and surrounding modern Japanese décor. Shakusui-tei, nestled in our historic pond garden has a private tea ceremony room by day and the connecting lounge serves Kyoto sake & premium champagne by the evening as you gaze at the sparkling light of the pond’s reflections.
The Spa and Fitness facilities are an oasis founded on the principles of a Japanese pond garden with Japanese tea house pavilions around the indoor swimming pool, allowing guests to rest and relax in a more intimate and calming atmosphere. Each detail and setting has been thought through to reference an authentic experience and to create a unique design story with six single treatment rooms and a sumptuous VIP suite, plus a full-service salon for hair, nail and skin treatments.
Already destined to become Kyoto’s preferred address for weddings, social events and prestigious business functions, the hotel offers a total of 569 square metres (6,124 square feet) of flexible event space from the sophisticated ballroom with natural daylight, three fully equipped conference rooms to a beautiful chapel above the bamboo groves.
Owner: Berjaya Corporation
Operator: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
Architect: Kume Sekkei, Jun Mitsui Associates (Porte Cochére), Yamamoto Atelier (Tea House)
Interiors: Hirsch Bedner Associates (guest rooms, function rooms, public areas, pool and spa), STRICKLAND (Sushi Wakon), Kokai Studios (Brasserie)
Exterior Designer: Landscape Design
Development Cost: JPY40 Billion (USD368 million)
2017 Deal of the Year finalists:
Single Asset Transaction of the Year
HILTON MELBOURNE SOUTH WHARF
UOL Group acquisition from Host Hotels & Resorts
Part of the Melbourne Convention Centre, the 396-room hotel was acquired for AUD230 million (USD184.4 million) in July 2017 by UOL Group Limited from Host Hotels & Resorts. The transaction met Singapore-based UOL Group’s desire to expand its Pan Pacific Hotel Group (PPHG) portfolio and hotel management businesses in the Oceania region — the hotel was rebranded as the Pan Pacific Melbourne and adds to existing PPHG properties in Perth, Darling Harbour, Parramatta and Melbourne Airport. The deal also enabled seller Host Hotels & Resorts to achieve an attractive sale price for its sole remaining asset in Australia.
Seller’s Advisors: Baker McKenzie, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group
HYATT REGENCY OSAKA
Hoshino Resorts REIT acquisition from Gaw Capital Partners
Acquired for JPY 16 billion (USD147.45 million) by Hoshino Resorts REIT from Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital Partners (GCP) in November 2016, this deal represents the largest non-sponsor REIT hotel transaction in Japan to date. The hotel is a rare and desirable transaction and an opportunistic buy for Hoshino Resorts REIT, being one of the only high-quality, full-service internationally-branded hotels in the mostly limited-service Osaka market. The deal also involved a complicated land lease negotiation with the city of Osaka. Since its acquisition by GCP in 2014, the hotel has seen improved profit margins from market growth, cost management and energy investment. Its turnaround and subsequent sale capitalizes on increased investment interest in one of Japan’s fastest growing markets.
Buyer’s Advisor: Savills
NOVOTEL MELBOURNE ON COLLINS
Frasers Hospitality Trust acquisition from LaSalle Opportunity Fund
The acquisition of Novotel Melbourne on Collins by Frasers Hospitality Trust (FHT) in October 2016 was the most significant hotel transaction in Melbourne, Australia at that time. FHT, a global hotel and serviced residence trust listed on the Singapore Exchange, acquired the hotel for AUD237 million from LaSalle Opportunity Fund. The acquisition adds income contribution from Melbourne which is a healthy, growing market, and further diversifies FHT’s earnings base.
With the addition of Novotel Melbourne on Collins, FHT now has a portfolio of 15 quality assets located across Asia, Australia and Europe. Its portfolio value has increased from SGD2.1 billion as at 30 September 2016 to SGD2.3 billion as at 30 June 2017, with its Australia properties (which comprise Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour, Fraser Suites Sydney and Novotel Melbourne on Collins) accounting for nearly one-third of its portfolio value. LaSalle Opportunity Fund purchased Novotel Melbourne on Collins and the adjoining Collins Street mall in 2012.
Buyer’s Advisors: Baker & McKenzie
Seller’s Advisors: King & Wood Mallesons; JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group
2017 Deal of the Year finalists:
M&A Deal of the Year
CHINA LODGING GROUP ACQUISITION OF CRYSTAL ORANGE HOTEL HOLDINGS
China-based multi-brand hotel company China Lodging Group’s subsidiary, China Lodging Holdings, acquired all of the equity interests of leading boutique hotel operator Crystal Orange Hotel Holdings’ shareholders for approximately USD531.9 million. Announced in Feb 2017, the deal closed May 2017.
Crystal Orange’s positioning and style will complement Shanghai-based China Lodging’s coverage and development capability in China, as well as its corporate philosophy and brand portfolio as one of China’s largest hotel groups. China Lodging Group has approximately 620 leased hotels — over 2,070 managed/franchised hotels and approximately 80 franchised hotels in operation and over 20 leased hotels and approximately 660 managed/franchised and franchised hotels under development. Beijing-based boutique hotel operator Crystal Orange was founded in 2006. Its portfolio includes more than 100 hotels primarily located in tier one and tier two cities.
Seller’s Advisors: Morgan Stanley, Latham & Watkins and Han Yi Law
Buyer’s Advisors: Fangda Partners, Davis Polk & Wardwell
V HOTEL MANAGEMENT ACQUISITION OF PREMIER INN THAI PORTFOLIO
The acquisition represents Singapore-based V Hotel Management’s first hotel investment in Thailand in line with their strategy to expand their offering of affordable midscale accommodation in the region, and seller WHRI’s divestment of their Thai portfolio as part of their withdrawal strategy of the Premier Inn business in Asia. The acquisition was completed in June 2017 for THB 1.4 billion (approximately USD42.3 million).
The portfolio was acquired with vacant possession, enabling the buyer to establish presence in two of Thailand’s key tourism destinations with an operator of their choice; Additionally, the properties were available with BOI foreign ownership privilege, allowing the buyer to hold 100% ownership. The transaction was one of only a few hotel portfolio sales ever to be transacted on the open market in Thailand.
Seller’s Advisors: JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group