Commercial investors swoop as ‘brand Barcelona’ goes global

BARCELONA: One of the highest rated cities in the world.

LUXURY Barcelona-based real estate agency Lucas Fox has registered a doubling in demand for luxury hotel conversions and off-plan commercial projects in the first six months of 2013 as Barcelona’s international appeal continues to strengthen.

Most interest has come from UK, American, Swiss and Middle Eastern investors as well as more recently from South American and African clients, particularly for commercial properties in the Eixample and Old Town district, also known as the ‘Golden Square.’

Lucas Fox Commercial Property Director Aimar Valls says a number of leading luxury hotel operators are in talks with the company to manage or buy commercial properties in Barce-lona as they seek to expand their businesses in one of the most sought-after cities in the world.

“Hotel investment in Barcelona has continued to be resilient despite Spain’s economic diffi-culties. We currently have around 20 potential investors for every building to convert. 

We are also expecting a new influx of investors from the Far East once the new Residency Law has been enforced this autumn. This demand will eventually push up prices so now is a golden opportunity to invest in Barcelona, especially in the luxury hotel market,” he said.

Despite the current global economic situation, Barcelona is expected to receive almost seven and a half million tourists in 2013 – the same as the record number received in 2012 – thanks, in large part, to increasing visitor numbers from North America, Britain and Russia and to the recently introduced daily direct flights from Barcelona to Dubai.

Over the past 10 years, there’s been strong growth in the hotel sector with a 75 per cent increase in room supply in Barcelona. Last year alone, 14 new hotels opened in Barcelona, contributing to more than 65 thousand rooms in the city. The increase in supply has not had a negative impact on room rates, however, which remain at an average of €109 a night, still a long way off the 2005 figure of €120 a night.

According to a recent report by accountancy firm Price Water-house Coopers (PWC), Barcelona is on track to be the fourth city in Europe in terms of hotel occu-pancy in 2013 and predicts reve-nue per room will also increase.

Valls predicts a bright future for Barcelona’s luxury hotel market in the medium to long-term, and expects the city to further consolidate its position as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations within the events and conventions sector as well as the cruise market. 

“Barcelona is now a worldwide brand. It has always been a city with a significant international presence, but it was the 1992 Olympics Games that placed it on the map, gave it an international profile and helped make it one of the highly rated cities in the world,” he said.

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