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Dubai’s Al Habtoor Group buys historic Hotel Imperial in Vienna from Starwood

The Dubai conglomerate Al Habtoor Group has added its seventh overseas property to its hotel portfolio with an acquisition in Vienna.

The company acquired the historic Hotel Imperial from New York-listed Starwood Hotels and Resorts for US$78.8 million, according to the US-based company.

The announcement comes just days after Al Habtoor Group said it acquired the Hilton London Wembley hotel from an undisclosed owner.

Adolf Hitler, once a day labourer outside the Hotel Imperial Vienna, returned as the Führer and “delivered a speech to a rapturous crowd from [the hotel] suite’s balcony, on 14 March 1938”, according to

Starwood would continue to operate the Vienna property under the Luxury Collection brand. All the rooms at the historic ­hotel will be renovated over the next four years as part of the deal. In 2014, the property underwent a $14m restoration of its ground floor, including the lobby, its three food and beverage outlets and a private event space, accord­ing to Starwood.

The 138-room Hotel Imperial Vienna was originally built in 1863 as Prince Philipp of Württemberg’s residence. It transitioned into a hotel ahead of the World’s Fair in 1873.

The Connecticut-based Starwood has been selling its assets to stem costs and drive growth and a number of the buyers have been from the Arabian Gulf region.

In September, Starwood sold The Westin Excelsior Rome to Qatar’s Katara Hospitality for €222m (Dh911.2m). In May, it sold The Gritti Palace, Venice, to Nozul Hotels and Resorts, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Doha-based Jaidah Holdings, for €105m.

“On the heels of exceeding our $800m asset disposition target in 2015, the sale of Hotel Imperial underscores Starwood’s continued commitment to advancing our asset light strategy to create value for our shareholders,” according to Thomas Mangas, the chief executive of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, referring to the sale to Al Habtoor Group.

The total investment by Middle Eastern investors in Europe’s hotel sector in 2014 and 2015 was €4.79 billion, according to the research company CBRE.

Al Habtoor opened The St Regis Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road in December and expects to open the hotels W Dubai and The Westin Dubai, both in Al Habtoor City, this year. It is also developing The St Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, and a new Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Al Habtoor Investment also owns Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel and Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace in Lebanon, the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in the US, the five-star InterContinental Hotel Budapest and five-star Elizabeth Park Hotel, Budapest.

In December, the company said it had allocated Dh2bn for overseas investments this year.

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