SEA CONTAINERS' ORIENT-EXPRESS HOTELS SUBSIDIARY ACQUIRES ASHLEY HOTELS AT MONTICELLO IN VIRGINIA AND ST. MICHAELS, MARYLAND
Hamilton, Bermuda - Sea Containers Ltd. (NYSE: SCRA, SCRB), continuing its rapid expansion in luxury hotels around the world, announced today that its Orient-Express Hotels Inc. subsidiary had acquired Keswick Hall at Monticello, Virginia and The Inn at Perry Cabin in historic St. Michael's, Maryland on Chesapeake Bay from Ashley Hotels, owned by Sir Bernard Ashley, former founder with his wife of the Laura Ashley retail group. The hotels have been decorated in Laura Ashley style.
Both properties are five star deluxe, and although relatively small they include substantial development land on which it is intended to add rooms. The Keswick Hall estate includes 240 acres for development while the Inn at Perry Cabin has 25 acres available.
The purchase price of the two properties was US dollars 22 million for the hotels and dlrs 3.5 million for the development land. Ashley Hotels will retain ownership of the 18 hole golf course and club at Keswick Hall for three years, after which a put/call agreement allows for Orient-Express Hotels to acquire them for dlrs 3.7 million. The course and club are currently unprofitable but Orient-Express Hotels expects to restructure that part of the business within the three year period. It will manage the golf course and club during this period and can exercise its call at any time at a discount in the first and second years.
Keswick Hall, deep in the heart of Virginia hunt country and the area Thomas Jefferson once described as "the Eden of the United States" was originally a private home built in 1912. It is in sight of Monticello, Jefferson's home, which attracts 500,000 visitors a year. It is also close to Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the university founded and designed by Jefferson. James Madison's home is also nearby.
Keswick is a popular location for conferences and visitors to the university in winter, while in spring, summer and fall it attracts many tourists.
The Inn at Perry Cabin is at St. Michaels on the east side of Chesapeake Bay, only an hour and a half drive from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. It too is a popular location for conferences during the winter and tourists in the summer. It enjoys a high occupancy rate and needs more rooms to satisfy demand.
Both Keswick Hall and The Inn at Perry Cabin have been acknowledged for excellence with innumerable awards. The Zagat Survey of Hotels, Resorts and Spas, for example, named them as top hotels in their respective states and both feature in Conde Nast Traveler's list of the ten best small hotels in the U.S.
Mr. Simon M.C. Sherwood, President of Orient-Express Hotels, said that the Ashley hotels now bring hotel investments in 1999 to four. Another two in Europe are planned later in the year. Orient-Express Hotels now has 29 properties of which 21 are hotels, 2 are restaurants, 5 tourist trains and one is a river cruise ship in Asia. The Leisure Division of Sea Containers Ltd. had operating income of dlrs 49.5 million in 1998, up 7.2% from dlrs 46.2 million in 1997 (1997 results included a dlrs 5 million gain on sale of a hotel).
SOURCE Sea Containers
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