Starwood Capital Group launches its UK-based, urban lifestyle hotel group, Principal Hotels

Following a more than year-long capital investment of approximately £150 million (US$196 million), Starwood Capital Group on Tuesday said that on November 1 it will officially launch its UK-based, urban lifestyle hotel group, Principal, a collection of hotels based in landmark buildings.

The distinctive heritage and resulting relationship between the properties and their surroundings are the cornerstones of the Principal brand, the news release stated.

The portfolio includes The Principal Edinburgh George Street (formerly The George Hotel), The Principal Manchester (formerly The Palace Hotel) and The Principal York (formerly The Royal York Hotel).

The Principal portfolio also includes Principal Partners—hotels that will join the brand over the course of 2017, among them The Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow; The Hotel Russell in London, which is currently closed and is due to reopen next summer as The Principal London; and the former Martins Bank, which will open as The Principal Liverpool in early 2018.

The creation of Principal is a part of Starwood Capital Group’s rebranding of its portfolio of U.K. hotels under the new name of The Principal Hotel Co., comprising Principal in city centers, and De Vere—modern, country estate hotels, with mansion houses at their heart, mixing leisure with market-leading conference facilities. The De Vere brand is scheduled to launch in spring/summer 2017, following an investment of more than £50 million (US$65 million).

“At the heart of a great business is a unique and authentic story. Our people and our buildings have great stories to tell, and these stories differentiate you from the competition, giving your guests and your staff something to cheer about,” said Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group. “Reviving these historic, grande-dame hotels is a truly great story— they are spectacular buildings in which we can create dynamic scenes. The story of each hotel, its amazing history and architecture is the opposite of the mass-produced chain hotel, and provides us with a canvas on which to curate a unique sense of place.”

At the core of every Principal Hotel is a bar and restaurant that is being marketed to locals as much as hotel guests. Other touch points will include vintage letterboxes in each lobby; a “corner shop” selling treats to stock the mini bar and essentials that guests might have left behind; a tuck box of complimentary snacks, as well as fresh milk and mineral water in the mini bar; and a fully-fledged concierge to guide guests to hidden gems and must-see attractions alike.

The Principal Hotel Co., which owns and operates over 40 landmark buildings across the length and breadth of the U.K, received an investment in excess of £200 million following the acquisition of Principal Hayley by a controlled affiliate of Starwood Capital Group in 2013, and the subsequent acquisition by controlled affiliates of Starwood Capital Group of De Vere Venues, Four Pillars, the Townhouse Collection and some individual, strategic assets.