The ability of local developers to finance new construction through high levels of equity investment, rather than debt, has allowed new development to flourish despite the credit crisis. Meanwhile, new bank debt and other financing sources (even “key money” from eager brands) are beginning to open up as the regions prove out attractive returns at acceptable risk levels. While the focus of many local developers has been on the luxury sector and prime resort locations, there are ample opportunities in the midmarket and budget sectors, and for international players to get in the game. Clearly, there is an undersupply of quality-tier product backed by international brands standards in many regional cities. Atlantico Hotel Advisors notes a robust development pipeline in key markets such as Poland and Croatia, each of which has been in the spotlight for some time. Countries such as the Ukraine, co-hosts of the UEFA European Football Championships (summer 2012), CIS and Russia are getting increasing exposure of late. Last year, Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened three new hotels in CIS and Russia. While just last month, Starwood restated its commitment to a pipeline of seven new hotels throughout the Region by 2015.
Under the radar for many is the smaller Balkan nation of Montenegro, which represents a particularly interesting growth pocket. WTTC/Oxford Economics forecasts that Travel & Tourism capital investment will grow faster in Montenegro – at an average of 16.4% a year over the next few years – than in any other country in the world. Meanwhile, tourism arrivals are also poised to double over the next decade. Private investment is increasing and projects including Porto Montenegro, together with transport and services infrastructure modernisation, are already gaining momentum. All indications suggest a bright future in Montenegro for savvy hotel developers, investors, brands and lenders. Atlantico Hotel Advisors encourages interested parties to get in touch directly about opportunities through the company website.