IFA Hotels acquires a majority stake in Yotel

First Yotel properties to open in London Heathrow and Gatwick airports this summer

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  January 12, 2006

Yotel, the radical hotel concept unveiled at last year’s World Travel Market, confirmed in December that it will open its first two hotels at London Heathrow and London Gatwick in mid-2006, following a major investment by Kuwaiti-based IFA Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary of International Financial Advisors (IFA). At London Heathrow, a 40-cabin Yotel will open in terminal four, while at London Gatwick, a 50-cabin Yotel is set to open in the south terminal building, following an agreement with BAA. “Heathrow and Gatwick are the country’s busiest airports, handling in excess of 95 million passengers every year. Our priority is to provide a world class experience for passengers, and, in order to achieve this, we need to be creative in how we use the limited space available. The arrival of Yotel inside our airport terminals will demonstrate our willingness to embrace innovation, whilst giving passengers what they want – where they want it,” said Duncan Bonfield, corporate communications director, BAA. According to Yotel, its hotel concept is set to change the hospitality industry, and will be developed throughout the world in prime city centre and airport locations. A third hotel is planned to open in central London in 2007, while international sites are also under negotiation. Yotel was founded by Yo! founder, Simon Woodroffe and Yotel CEO, Gerard Greene, who were seeking to develop a product that offered low cost luxury accommodation. Woodroffe derived the idea for the Yotel cabin from a first-class flight cabin. He decided to translate airline travel idea into a small capsule-style hotel and, with Greene, developed the idea over the past three years. “Ask a focus group if they would like to sleep in a 10m2 room with no natural light and you won’t get many takers — walk into the Yotel room and you want it,” said Woodroff. The IFA Hotels & Resorts finance agreement will enable Yotel to expand internationally. “We are extremely excited by the recent investment by IFA Hotels & Resorts, which will facilitate our global expansion plans, and with our agreement with BAA, one of the leading airport operators in the world. These agreements with major international corporations create a solid foundation for the future of Yotel,” said Green. The Yotel concept offers a compact business class experience for less than US $140 a night. Designed by Priestman Goode, who helped Airbus define the interior of the double deck A380 superjumbo, the ‘cabins’ are 10m² and feature rotating double beds, techno walls, pull down desks, monsoon shower, flat screen TV and wireless internet access. Cabins will be bookable in blocks of four hours, enabling delayed and transfer passengers to relax privately in a hotel environment before onward travel. Maximising on space, the windows of the Yotel rooms will face onto the corridor; this enables Yotel to open in tricky central city locations, airports, rail hubs and even underground.

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