The NH Hotel Group is one of Spain’s largest hotel companies. It is based in Madrid and not in the Balearics, where other leading hotel concerns, e.g. Meliá, built their businesses on the holiday market.
This geographical difference helps to explain why NH has been the one large Spanish hotel company to contemplate a state bailout. Its business is more focused on the urban market, which has been as devastated as the resort market but faces far greater challenges in recovering.
The prospects going forward for the urban hotel sector are not bright. While the resort sector is expected to benefit from a holidaymaking “champagne effect” of recovery, hotels in cities cannot anticipate the same bounce.
They rely on business travel, with all this entails, such as the conference and exhibitions market. The pandemic, it is argued, is going to alter business travel for good. There will be less of it, as remote working and virtual conferences have been shown to be alternatives.
In Palma, around 72% of hotel places are in Playa de Palma; they are for the holiday market. Otherwise, the boutique hotels should probably be ok, but what of others?
Meanwhile, the great bet on low-season activity centred on conferences now looks under threat. One expert, London-based hotel consultant Pablo Torres, believes that a large part of the urban hotel market has no future.
If so, and after all the investment that has been pumped in, what will happen to these hotels?