Grand hotel sold to Leonardo for up to £60m

Posted On 20 Feb 2023 at 8:05 pm

The Grand hotel on Brighton seafront has been sold to Fattal, the company that owns the Leonardo hotel chain, for up to £60 million.

News of the deal was reported by The Times today (Monday 20 February) as an announcement was shared with staff.

The hotel is being sold by the billionaire Weston family which controls Fortnum and Mason and Associated British Foods.

They buyer is the Fattal Group, owned by the Israeli billionaire David Fattal. His company owns Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland.

Fattal recently rebranded its portfolio of 35 Jurys Inn hotels – including two in Brighton – as Leonardo hotels. But the company is not expected to dilute the Grand’s premium brand name by changing it.

The Grand opened in 1864. The seven-floor hotel is a key part of Brighton’s conference offer, with 201 rooms, restaurant, bar, banqueting space and the Empress Suite which can hold 900 delegates.

The hotel was bombed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1984 during the Conservative Party conference.

The Provisional IRA aimed to assassinate the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She survived but five people died and others suffered life-changing injuries.

Almost two years later, in August 1986, Mrs Thatcher returned to reopen the restored hotel.

The De Vere Group, formerly Greenall’s Brewery, took over the hotel in the early 1990s and about 20 years later spent millions of pounds on a revamp which was completed in 2013.

In 2014, De Vere sold the Grand – reportedly for about £50 million – as part of a programme to pay down the group’s debts.

The buyer was Wittington Investments, controlled by the Weston family. It carried out its own extensive renovation which was completed in 2019. The work included a restoration of the iconic Victorian façade.

The Grand is expected to undergo another further significant refurbishment of its rooms and facilities.

It is one of a number of hotels to be have been bought by Fattal including the former Le Méridien hotel in Piccadilly, now known as The Dilly. Last summer Fattal bought six hotels in Spain for and recently announced the purchase of nine hotels in Austria.

Fattal’s latest purchases were financed from a €400 million fund raised in partnership with a number of institutional investors.

Having bought the Jurys Inn chain in 2017, Fattal rebranded the hotel next to the railway station as the Leonardo Hotel Brighton last November.

The Jurys Inn Brighton Waterfront was renamed the Leonardo Royal Hotel Brighton Waterfront on the same day.

Leonardo Royal hotels tend to be bigger and more likely to have spa facilities and a greater number of meeting rooms.

Fattal’s Leonardo subsidiary now has 52 hotels across Britain and Ireland while the parent company owns and operates more than 200 hotels in about 100 destinations. In Europe alone, it has more than 150 hotels in 86 cities in 14 countries.

Dominic Walsh, of The Times, wrote that the specialist consultancy JLL Hotels brokered the sale of the Grand for about £55 million to £60 million.

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