Dubai: The LuLu Group has opened the doors to the “old” Scotland Yard building in London - now restored as an upscale hotel. This forms part of a $390 million investment by the Abu Dhabi headquartered group in the UK in recent years.
The acquisition was done in July 2015 for 110 million pounds and the subsequent makeover cost another 50 million pounds.
The Great Scotland Yard Hotel will be managed by Hyatt as part of its The Unbound Collection.
“The UK will continue to see more investments from the LuLu Group - we had recently bought a second hotel there and we also have a food processing and logistics hub in Birmingham,” said Yussufali M.A., Chairman and Managing Director. “In between all this, we also bought a significant stake in a luxury retail entity, the East India Company.
“From being a pure hypermarket operator with a Middle East focus, we want to widen our geographic reach and be in complementary business lines. Hotels and property investments provide us with the required synergies - and London is always a great place to be.”
Brexit no bar
Clearly, Middle East investors in London/UK real estate are thinking beyond all the short-term debates raging politically and within business circles about what will happen next with Brexit.
Damac, the Dubai based developer, is making headway with a luxury residential project in London; another developer, Sobha Group’s Chairman P.N.C. Menon, has in the recent past repeatedly stated his ambitions to have some sort of presence in London.
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Financial Group owns the “New” Scotland Yard, which it is repurposing into an upscale residential luxury project. According to market sources, even in the years after the Brexit vote in 2016, Middle East fund flows into UK real estate has maintained a steady pace.
Legacy meets the present
For LuLu, the new hotel allows it to mix the best of heritage with all the trappings today’s luxury-focussed traveller needs.
The building, built in the 1820s, features seven floors with 153 rooms and 15 suites apart from two-bedroom townhouse created from part of the original Scotland Yard Police premises. According to Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director of Twenty14 Holdings, part of the LuLu Group,“Transforming one of the world’s most historic addresses into an icon of modern hospitality. Twenty14 Holdings’ focus remained steady right through. Keeping the building’s reputation in mind, every effort made in its rebirth had to be extraordinary, beyond expectations.
“And, this is what has been accomplished.”
Twenty14 Holdings currently sits on assets valued at $750 million. The second hotel it acquired in the UK is the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian. There was also a move into Switzerland, with the IntercityHotel Zurich Airport.
In Dubai, there is the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay in Dubai and it has co-ownership in the Sheraton Oman Hotel in Muscat. In India, besides Port Muziris in Kochi, it is developing two properties in Bengaluru.
A touch of history
The LuLu Group-owned Great Scotland Yard Hotel is located in the St. James’s district of Westminster. The property served as the former headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police force. In 1910, the building was the address for the British Army Recruitment Office and Royal Military Police headquarters.