A knack for identifying new opportunities means Macdonald Hotels & Resorts continues to invest in its market presence
With over 40 hotels across the UK and ten resorts within the UK and Spain, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has a name in quality service. Focused on providing customers with a complete package, Macdonald offers luxury accommodation, excellent facilities and quality food and drink, in some of the UK’s prime locations. A commitment to maintaining the highest standards of service has seen Macdonald invest in an extensive refurbishment programme over the last few years.
Looking to strengthen its position within the four and five-star markets, Macdonald has recently launched a new five-star hotel in Windsor. Opened in September of this year, the hotel is located opposite the Guildhall and Windsor Castle and will provide Macdonald with a strong market presence. The new hotel boasts 120 rooms and is situated in an old retail space, which has been converted into the luxury boutique style hotel.
David Guile, chief executive of Macdonald Hotels, elaborates on the reasons behind the development: “We were looking for opportunities to expand into key destination spots and Windsor was identified as being a strong location for both corporate and leisure markets. It is also within close proximity of Heathrow and London. We are already well represented in the area with hotels at Ascot and Marlow and Windsor sits very comfortably within that marketplace.”
The Windsor hotel is to be one of Macdonald’s flagship hotels with a focus on the five-star markets and offers a quality of build and service to match. David explains how this has informed the style of the hotel: “The building is a Grade 2 Georgian property and this has influenced the design aspect of the hotel. Instead of a traditional hotel dining room, we have worked to create a lounge and bar public space offering flexible informal dining. The bedrooms have been approached from a luxury angle in terms of the standards and facilities they provide.”
Macdonald occupies a unique sector of the hotel market as it privately owns and manages the business, whereas often hotels are owned by property companies and managed separately. Currently Macdonald is looking to expand its portfolio through management contracts as well as acquisitions, with small hotel groups able to take advantage of Macdonald’s experience and market expertise. David highlights the company’s criteria for contracts and acquisitions: “It’s very much about location and opportunities for us to add value to businesses in terms of efficiency, sales and distribution. There are a number of key locations within the UK where we would like to increase our presence, namely London, Cambridge and Glasgow, which is a key market gap for us.”
Recently Macdonald has announced its refurbishment programme for the coming year and is already in the process of a £3 million project developing the spa facility at Inchyra Grange in Scotland. The new facility will include eight treatment rooms and a 20-metre pool. The project also includes refurbishment of the bedrooms, which has recently been completed, and the conference rooms and that are due to be completed by March 2011. A number of other locations are also named within the plans with works to start from October and be completed by May 2011. This includes the Swan Hotel in Grasmere, the Bear Hotel in Woodstock and the Randolph Hotel in Oxford. David explains the reason behind the continued investment: “The refurbishment programmes are to ensure that we maintain our quality of service in the facilities we provide and to add value to the portfolio.”
Earlier in the year Macdonald Hotels launched Rocca Bar & Grill, a new Italian restaurant at its Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews. This is addition to the recent development of The One Under, a gastropub within the same hotel. The two new catering concepts were designed to transform the hotel dining experience into a more contemporary and relaxed set-up and have been very successful in capitalising on the strong markets in the area.
Despite the economic downturn, Macdonald has continued with its investment programmes and to identify opportunities and gaps within the market. David 81focuses on how the business is faring on the back of the recession: “The marketplace has been quite varied. We’ve seen growth within the leisure market and have had a very strong summer within this sector. Going forward we have remained cautious regarding the corporate markets as, although there have been some positive trends, these have been inconsistent across the country. I think the fact that we are able to continue to invest in projects and develop during these difficult trading times is a very strong and positive message.”
Looking to the future Macdonald Hotels seems set to continue to increase its presence in the market, with the recent launch of the Lee Westwood golf school at the Macdonald Portal Hotel & Spa near Chester. This high profile partnership has provided a real boost to the company’s profile and support for Macdonald’s position within the golf market. David concludes with Macdonald’s vision for the future: “We see ourselves continuing to develop our standing in the four and five-star markets through acquisition and management contracts and to maintain our position as a leading company in that marketplace.”