Hotel giant San Francisco vows to invest in Scotland

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Via Scott Wright

A provider of hotels and serviced apartments located in SAN Francisco has announced ambitious plans to grow in the two largest cities in Scotland, while the corona virus continues to darken the outlook for 2021.

Sonder Hotels currently has a single property in Scotland, the 30-unit Royal Garden Apartments in the New Town of Edinburgh, where it saw high occupancy after responding to the pandemic in the second half of the year by joining the extended-stay market as tourist numbers dropped.

The business has major plans to expand its entrance into the Scottish market further and has signed a lease for its first property in Glasgow, to be followed by more sites in Edinburgh.

Sonder plans to spend about £ 14 million in the U.K. this year alone. And Ireland, and underlined its growth appetite when it recently raised $170 million in Series E funding.

Sonder is on track to open its first property in Glasgow in 2021, a 41-unit apartment building in the Finnieston neighborhood.

Our aim is to expand the portfolio in Edinburgh over the next few years.

Over the next few years, our aim is to dramatically increase the portfolio in Edinburgh,’ says Lia Prendergast, the company’s managing director for the UK. Ireland as well.

“Our goal would be to reach between 500 and 1,000 keys in Edinburgh. In Glasgow, we already have a 41-unit building under contract, but again, we would have ambitions to grow further in the coming years.”

Ms. Prendergast, who joined Sonder about a year ago after working in retail management and consultancy, added, “One thing to note is that while our current Edinburgh portfolio is apartments, we also have hotels. We are a hospitality company that in our portfolio has hotels, apart-hotels [and]managed-service apartments.”

“We’re looking to grow both our hotel fronts and apartment fronts in a city like Edinburgh over the next few years.”

Sonder traces its origins back to 2014, when co-founders Francis Davidson and Lucas Pellan founded a startup that matched student accommodation in different cities for travelers. Since then, according to its website, the portfolio has expanded to include properties in more than 35 cities in seven countries, with the company attracting more than 825,000 guests a year.

The model of Sonder is not to obtain ownership interests, but to lease buildings that are then operated to provide visitors with a “end-to-end” experience as serviced apartments or hotels.

While Sonder is eager to increase its presence in the hotel industry, during the pandemic, the versatility of its serviced apartments has proven to be a boon.

In Edinburgh, by catering to various markets, including administrators who have moved and individuals who have opted to rent rooms at Royal Garden Apartments over renting private properties for longer periods of time in the face of economic instability, the business was able to compensate for the sharp decrease in visitor numbers.

The organization has also seen its assets used by key workers

Those who would have had to move out of the apartments they share with vulnerable parents during the pandemic.

In September, in terms of revenue per available space, Sonder posted the best month of 2020 for its Royal Garden Apartments in Edinburgh, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. That came as people sought apartments for longer stays, and in the midst of demand for vacation stays.

The company’s Dublin apart-hotels, Ms. Prendergast said, have also experienced their best three months since their launch in August to October, with an improvement in the average length of stay to

For up to 30 nights.

“One of the biggest challenges is to respond very quickly to a changing environment, but we have managed to do that successfully,” Ms. Prendergast said.

said Ms. Prendergast.

“When Covid first appeared in March, we saw the first signs of this in Rome. We went from a company based mainly on shorter-day visitors to the longer-stay model,’ she said.

“We’ve done this all over the company. That really helped us to resolve the challenges that Covid presented.

During the crisis, the investment of Sonder in technology, both to enhance the guest experience and to help back-end operations, has also proved to be a major advantage. The technology enables guests to enjoy

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