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TV Dragon James Caan wraps up sale of Von Essen’s hotel empire

By Luke Nicholls , 13-Sep-2012

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Trends & Reports, Hotel Trends, Hotels

The final two hotels in the Von Essen portfolio, Ston Easton Park in Somerset and Sharrow Bay in Cumbria, have been acquired by former BBC ‘Dragon’ James Caan for a combined sum of £4.5m.

Hamilton Bradshaw, James Caan's private equity company, has paid £3m for the 22-bedroom Ston Easton Park hotel in Bath

Hamilton Bradshaw, James Caan's private equity company, has paid £3m for the 22-bedroom Ston Easton Park hotel in Bath

Hamilton Bradshaw, Caan’s private equity company, paid £3m for the 22-bedroom Ston Easton Park hotel in Bath and £1.5m for the 24-bedroom Sharrow Bay hotel in Cumbria.

The deal brings a close to a 17-month-long sales process of 26 country house hotels in the Von Essen Hotels Ltd estate, following the Group’s fall into administration in April of last year.

“We’re delighted to have sold the fine country house hotels Ston Easton Park and Sharrow Bay to Hamilton Bradshaw, and to have concluded sales on the complete instruction,” said Jeremy Hill, director and head of hotels for Christie & Co, which advised on all of the Von Essen deals.

High-quality assets

“That we were able to do so in little more than a year, and when the market conditions - including the lack of available debt finance - could at best be described as difficult, is symptomatic of two things.

“First, of the fact that there will always be a market for high-quality assets like those on the Von Essen Hotels estate; and secondly, of Christie & Co’s national coverage, experience and network of meaningful and wide-ranging contacts in the hotel and associated sectors.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the administrators Ernst & Young on this process and wish all the new owners well with their new business acquisitions.”

The sale of all 26 former Von Essen hotels in the UK, along with an island fort in Wales and a chateau in France, takes to total proceeds from the disposal of Von Essen Hotels Ltd to around £165m, short of the initial price tag of £203.25m.

Von Essen: Timeline

  • April 2011: Von Essen Hotels Ltd, the holding company of the 28-strong luxury hotel group, went into administration after failing to meet its debt repayment schedule.
  • October 2011: Four former Von Essen hotels - Amberley Castle, Lower Slaughter Manor, Buckland Manor and Washbourne Court - were bought out of administration by hotelier Andrew Brownsword. (Total sale price: £32m)
  • October 2011: The Samling hotel in Cumbria was sold to private owners. (Just under £6m)
  • October 2011: Wiltshire hotel Bishopstrow House was acquired by Longleat, the estate of the 7th Marquess of Bath. (Guide price of £6m)
  • November 2011: The Greenway Spa Hotel in Cheltenham has been acquired by the Eden Hotel Collection to join its classic, country and town house hotels estate. (Guide price of £3.5m)
  • November 2011: The Eden Hotel Collection bought The Mount Somerset country house hotel, the second Von Essen hotel to be bought by the company in less than a month. (Guide price of £3m)
  • November 2011: Longleat acquired a second hotel from the former Von Essen estate - Homewood Park Hotel & Spa. (£3.5m)
  • December 2011: Seven hotels from the portfolio were sold to Halcyon Hotels and Resorts in what was the largest package sale of the entire portfolio. The seven properties were: The Elms; Fowey Hall; The East Wing at Ickworth; Moonfleet Manor; Woolley Grange; Thornbury Castle; and New Park Manor. (Total sale price: £40.5m)
  • December 2011: Callow Hall in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was bought out of administration by an unnamed private buyer. (Approx. £2.25m)
  • January 2012: Ynshir Hall, a Welsh manor house once owned by Queen Victoria, became the 19th Von Essen hotel to be bought out of administration and was placed back in the welcoming hands of its general manager. (Undisclosed sum, but guide price of £1.5m)
  • February 2012: Cliveden House Hotel in Buckinghamshire was sold to the billionaire property developer brothers Ian and Richard Livingston, in what was the most expencive individual sale of the lot. (£30m)
  • February 2012: The former owners of Lewtrenchard Manor regained ownership of the hotel which they originally sold to Von Essen in 2003. (less than the asking price of £750k)
  • March 2012: Dalhousie Castle, near Edinburgh, was bought out of administration by Robert and Gina Parker, for around half the price that Von Essen originally paid for the property in 2003. (£5m)
  • April 2012: Three of the last remaining hotels from the Von Essen portfolio were sold to different buyers in the space of a week. The hotels included Congham Hall (sold to Nicholas Dickinson for £2.5m); The Royal Crescent (sold to the Topland Group for £18m) and Seaham Hall (sold to Seasons holidays for £5m).
  • September 2012: The final two hotels in the Von Essen portfolio, Ston Easton Park in Somerset and Sharrow Bay in Cumbria, were sold to Hamilton Bradshaw. (total sale price: £4.5m)

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