Horwood Estate in Milton Keynes Sold to ZIZ Hospitality as First UK Purchase

Main Photo: Horwood Estate

Date: September 2019

Location: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK

Name: Horwood Estate

No. of Keys: 185

Seller: De Vere Group. Christie & Co has completed on the sale of Horwood Estate, a Grade II listed manor house and conference centre in Milton Keynes, to ZIZ Hospitality for the De Vere Group.

Horwood is/was one of 20 plus “estates” that were once owned by major blue-chip companies such as Olivetti, IBM, NatWest, Rank Xerox, BMW and the likes, which were glorious looking stately-house type properties, that were used by these companies as their in-house training centres. Largely the grounds were magnificent but the accommodation and service were disastrous as hotels/accommodation was not their core-business.

Often the companies only used the facility to around 65% occupancy, which was almost exclusively Sunday to Thursday. A clever entrepreneur call David Stayal (we think) systematically bought said 20 plus estates, allowing the companies to continue to run their training within, but allowing his company to sell unoccupied space/nights to the general public – very clever move…in the 1970’s/80s.

David then sold the whole portfolio to Rentokil Initial in the 1990’s, who had even less clue as to how to run such establishments. They sold on these beautiful buildings with grounds to De Vere, once a professional hotel company (technically The Alternative Hotel Group under the stewardship of the interesting Richard Balfour-Lynn) in around 2006, who also ignored the magnificence of the estate until very recent times when they have invested proper money to bring them up to scratch, or sold them off as they have done with Horwood. Currently the properties are owned by Starwood Capital, initially under the Principal-Hayley brand.

BT were the owners of Horwood from around 1966 (as the then GPO) who used it as a training centre/college until it was sold to Princiapl Hayley in 1992.

Buyer: Totalling 185 guest bedrooms and numerous conference and meeting rooms, Horwood Estate is set in approximately 40 acres of Buckinghamshire countryside, with the formal gardens providing a perfect setting for weddings and events. Additionally, the property features extensive leisure facilities, which complement the appeal of this unique hospitality business.

Purchaser Karim Kassam, founder of ZIZ Hospitality, has had great experience operating hotels in the UK and Middle East and Horwood Estate marks his first solo purchase. Looking to build upon what is already a highly profitable business, Kassam plans to capitalise on the extensive asset management opportunities at the property as well as considering a variety of brand options.

ZIZ Hospitality, founded by Karim Kassam, part of the Kassam family that have been into hotels in the UK for many years under the banner of Crimson Hotels.

Kassam comments, “It’s been a long journey finding the right first investment for ZIZ in this market and Horwood Estate, already an established wedding and conference venue, offers just that. I’m looking forward to working with the experienced management team at the hotel to upgrade the facilities and build on this base to grow the business further.”

Jeremy Jones, Head of Brokerage – Hotels, and Alex Campbell, Director, at Christie & Co handled the sale and Jeremy comments, “This latest disposal on behalf of De Vere Hotels is further evidence of the demand for such assets in the UK. The combination of scale, cash flow and the huge development potential on offer appealed to a range of buyers with Karim Kassam ultimately the successful party. We are looking forward to seeing the improvements planned for Horwood Estate.”

Horwood Estate was sold off a guide price of £15,500,000 for the freehold interest.

Price: £15.5m (Guide Price)

Price per Key: £83,784

THPT Comment: As you will see above the fate of a lot of these properties has been rather poor…hopefully Karim and his hotelier skills will redeem this!

First Seen: RPBi News

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