American Blackstone Rumoured to be Eyeing UK’s Leisure and Holiday Company Bourne Leisure

Main Photo: Warner’s Nidd Hall Hotel, Harrogate, a Grade II listed mansion

Date: January 2021

Location: UK

Name: Bourne Leisure – with brands such as Butlins, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels

No. of Keys: TBA

Seller: Privately-owned family business Bourne Leisure…the deal would see the current owners First Ovalap Ltd, jointly owned by the families of founders Harris, Cook and Allen, retain a significant stake.

Buyer: Blackstone, no stranger to hotels as owner of HIP Hotels, once owner of Hilton, and part owner of Merlin Entertainment, global market-leader of theme parks such as Legoland. They also acquired five Louis hotels in Greece in 2019, now under the HIP brand, which has some 60 hotels under their belt. Not to mention La Quinta, LXR, MeriStar and Prime Hospitality (subsequently sold to Hyatt) in the USA!

American private equity firm Blackstone is rumoured to be eyeing UK leisure and holiday company Bourne Leisure. The move would increase the company’s presence in the UK leisure sector, as Blackstone already owns part of theme park specialist Merlin Entertainment, which operates Legoland.

Bourne Leisure is a privately-owned company whose brands include Butlins, which operates three coastal resorts in England, Haven, with 37 caravan holiday parks in England, Scotland and Wales, and hotel company Warner Leisure Hotels, which operates 14 hotels across the UK, exclusively for adults.

According to The Times, Blackstone is in talks to buy a majority stake in Bourne Leisure in a deal that would value the business at £3billion and would see the current owners First Ovalap Ltd, jointly owned by the families of founders Harris, Cook and Allen, retain a significant stake.

Although the UK’s hospitality sector has had a difficult year due to the COVID-19 crisis and associated travel restrictions, the domestic leisure market is expected to lead the recovery. Open air hospitality such as caravan park is also one of the growing trends that has appealed to travellers in search of Covid-safe holidays.

THPT Comment: Staycation certainly seems to be the order of the day, with several hotel companies chasing the prime market likely to return post pandemic lock-down in many countries around the world. Warner’s hotel portfolio is very upmarket compared to other typical tour-operator owned hotels.

First Seen: Hospitality Insights

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