Benson Elliot Reopens the Sophia Country Club Hotel Following Investment of c.€25 m

Benson Elliot Capital Management, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, announces that the Sophia Country Club will officially reopen on 1 June 2012, following an extensive refurbishment. The hotel complex offers significantly enhanced facilities, including 155 modern rooms, 900 sqm of conference space with capacity for up to 450 delegates, a revamped restaurant and leisure facilities including a state-of-the-art spa centre, a 20-court tennis academy and a golf academy.

The Sophia Country Club is a landmark corporate and leisure hotel in the French Riviera, located in the heart of the French ‘Silicon Valley’, within the Sophia-Antipolis business park, which employs 30,000 people across 1 million sqm of office space. It benefits from unrivalled facilities and excellent connectivity, with a journey time of less than 15 minutes to Nice international airport and to the Cannes seafront.

Benson Elliot acquired the Sophia Country Club in an off-market transaction from a French family office in November 2011, on behalf of Benson Elliot Real Estate Partners III. The hotel, originally branded as a Pullman hotel in the early 2000’s, had suffered from a lack of capital investment for many years and, alongside TIA asset management, a specialist in hotel turnaround, Benson Elliot has invested significantly in completing a comprehensive, six month refurbishment of the entire hotel complex. The hotel’s improved offering is designed to be attractive to corporates as well as fully embracing the requirements of leisure and sports travellers.

Marc-Olivier Assouline, Head of Hotel Investment for Benson Elliot, said: “The Sophia Country Club reflects Benson Elliot’s ambition in the hotel sector in Europe: targeting hotels with turnaround potential in locations with significant corporate and leisure demand. Through this refurbishment we have created an exciting destination resort that will be even more attractive to its historic core market of corporate guests, while broadening its appeal to the leisure and sports market. We have already attracted a number of European teams in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, and we expect this type of business to increase following June’s official opening.”

Trish Barrigan, Senior Partner at Benson Elliot, said: “The global recession and subsequent property market decline have created the opportunity to buy hotels at meaningful discounts to replacement cost at or near the bottom of the operational cycle, which is exemplified by this transaction. We’re actively looking at similar opportunities that represent good value today, and where there is also scope to add value through targeted capex investment and proactive asset management strategies, building on our track record in this area.”

Sophia Country Club website: http://www.sophiacountryclub.com.

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