Billionaire real estate moguls the Reuben brothers have spent around 100 million euros to buy one of Venice’s oldest hotels, a vote of confidence in a luxury travel market shattered by the pandemic.
The 90,000 square foot Baglioni Hotel Luna, which dates back to the 12th century, is the latest in a series of hotel and commercial investments made by David and Simon Reuben since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
They invested around $ 3.8 billion in the United States and Europe last year, acquiring assets such as the Surrey Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side and the Corinthia Hotel in Rome.
“We are passionate about high quality hotels and want to support where we can,” Simon Reuben, the younger of the two, told the Financial Times.
The brothers have a large portfolio of assets through their eponymous holding company. The acquisition of Baglioni Hotel Luna is their second investment in the Venetian hotel market after the purchase of Il Palazzo Experimental boutique in 2017.
Renovation work on the property has already started with the aim of opening the hotel to guests this summer.
Yet tourist hubs such as Venice have become shadows of their pre-crisis identities, as lockdowns and the closure of international borders have driven visitors away. Luxury hotels in metropolitan destinations have been particularly affected given their dependence wealthy international travelers.
Travel analysts and executives expect budget and leisure travel to be the first to rebound.
Even after reopening last June, following the first wave of the pandemic, several Venetian hotels reported occupancy rates as low as 15 percent despite the peak season.
Pre-Covid Venice has received around 12 million visitors each year, according to figures from the Italian Bureau of Statistics. However, arrivals to the city in 2020 were 71% below 2019 levels, according to an estimate by research firm Statista.
Mr Reubens said he believes “the world will eventually return to a new normal and historic city centers will always attract new residents and visitors”.
Along with investments in upscale hotels in Miami, Las Vegas and Ibiza over the past year, the brothers also bought retail assets on Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles, and were part of a joint – venture in senior debt guaranteed by the private sector of 28 sites. Soho House Members Club.
They were most recently part of a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund seeking to buy Newcastle United football club, their first foray into the sport beyond horse and greyhound racing. The £ 300million takeover collapsed in mid-summer recriminations between the Premier League and club owner Mike Ashley.