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Analysis

Bristol's hoteliers embark on a journey to supply development

As urban development projects are multiplying, the capital of the South West has established itself as a safe bet for British tourists and investors alike. Several brands intend to take advantage of the city's rich heritage, leading to growth in its hotel supply.

Bristol, Southwestern England's largest city and the historical port that used to connect England with its neighbors, is a buzzing destination. Winner of the EU's European Green Capital Award in 2015 in recognition of its achievements in terms of sustainable development, named one of England's six "Science Cities" by the UK government, Bristol benefits from the ongoing development of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, a 70-ha urban regeneration project with office buildings dedicated to high-tech, low-carbon and creative industries. And Bristol's Filton Airport is one of Europe's largest aerospace hubs: Airbus, BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce are settled on the site where the "Concorde" jet was developed and flew as a prototype. A city of science, Bristol is also a leading destination for arts and culture, establishing itself as one of Britain's most popular tourist destinations. Midway between Wales, Cornwall and the historical cities of Bath and Gloucester, the capital of the South West has managed to preserve its unique character, exemplified by the emergence of the Bristol Sound in the 90s and the vitality of today's underground scene - local artist Banksy being one of its most prominent figures.

The Bristol area hosts 34 hotels operated by integrated chains as of January 2016, representing a supply of 4,648 rooms. Chains have a seemingly balanced profile in terms of product positioning. With 1,804 rooms, branded economy hotels represent 38.8% of the urban area's room supply. Midscale chains boast a total capacity of 1,405 rooms (30.2% of the city's chain supply); upscale properties represent 31% of Bristol's branded chain supply with 1,439 rooms in the category.

A first Hampton by Hilton unit debuted last October. Located at the intersection of Bond and York Streets, this 186-room hotel was developed in a former office building from the 1960s, York House. In addition, Hilton Worldwide has reached an agreement with modular building supplier CIMC to develop a second Hampton by Hilton hotel at Bristol Airport. CIMC's innovative modular technique significantly reduces the time taken for construction by manufacturing and assembling portions of the hotel, including guest rooms and hallways, before transporting them to the final site for assembly. The Hampton by Hilton Hotel Bristol Airport should open by the end of 2016; it will have 201 rooms, a 24-hour fitness room, flexible meeting spaces, and parking for 120 cars. As for AccorHotels, the group took over operation of the Grand Hotel Bristol (previously operated by Thistle Hotels), a historical 182-room address on Broad Street, a stone's throw from Castle Park. The property now operates as a Mercure unit; the fourth of its kind in the area.

In 2016, Harbour Hotels is set to inaugurate its first hotel in Bristol after converting two buildings on Corn Street -previously headquartering Lloyds and Midland Bank. Ongoing renovations should enable the new hotel to welcome its first guests in the summer of 2016. The Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa will also include a wellness center and spaces dedicated to events.

Conversions are getting trendy in Bristol, as many such projects are under study: a 168-bed Premier Inn hotel should open in the buildings of the Courage Brewery. Another major project, the city's first five star hotel may open in the historical site of Guildhall on Broad Street; this £10 million-project has received planning permission. Trevor Obsorne Property Group will develop a 91-room luxury hotel offering a restaurant, meeting rooms, a spa and a rooftop pool. To the west, the Avon Gorge Hotel should undergo light refurbishment works, affecting especially the White Lion bar and its terrasse. The latter offers views on the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the city's most recognized landmark.

The long-awaited renovation of the Ashton Gate Stadium, the ongoing development of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, and the construction of the Bristol Arena (12,000 seats) -a £90 million project whose completion is set for next year- should give the city's hoteliers grounds to be be positive about future prospects. As tourist projects are multiplying and the economy reaching new heights (unemployment decreased by a third between 2010 and 2015 to an impressive 2.8% rate), Bristol is confirming its status as one of Britain's rising tourism destinations.

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  • The United Kingdom remains among Europe's tourism leaders in 2015
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  • British tourism breaks new records
  • Hampton by Hilton develops its first modular hotel

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