Hand Picked Hotels set for further expansion

Independent hotel chain Hand Picked Hotels, is set for expansion following the acquisition of three properties in the past 16 hotels.

The 20-strong chain of upmarket country house hotels has welcomed the following new properties- Bailbrook House in Bath, a 94-bedroom hotel which was acquired off a guide price of £6.8m and has recently undergone a £10m refurbishment transforming it from a three-star, 78 bedroom property; St Pierre Park in Guernsey which boasts 131-bedrooms; and the 58-bedroom Fawsley Hall, near Silverstone, Northamptonshire. The three hotels mark the first acquisitions for the company since 2008.

Chairman and chief executive Julia Hands also expressed plans regarding future acquisitions but said the company does not want to grow to the point where it has to introduce another layer of management. The group is however looking at the 64-bedroom Bovey Castle in the Dartmoor National Park, Devon, which Delancey has been trying to off-load for more than a year. Specific locations the company would like to be present in include the west coast of Scotland, north of London in Herefordshire or Buckinghamshire and west of the M5.

Hand Picked Hotels was created by Julia Hands, a former lawyer, from a collection of hotels purchased with her husband, city financier Guy Hands, in 2001. In the past two years, the couple have personally reduced the company's debt from £99m to £80m, a figure which Hands said is now 'perfectly manageable'.

The company's most recent set of accounts, published in June, recorded an annual turnover during 2012 of £59.9m, and EBIDTA of £8.28m. Hands said that while occupancies and room rates are 'edging-up', they have still not returned to the highs recorded prior to the financial crash of 2008.