NRI hotelier Gulshan Bhatia is the front-runner to acquire Waldorf Hilton for £185 million. Bhatia, who along with her son Asif, has built a fortune of more than £70 million as a hotelier, is poised to acquire the 299-room Waldorf in Central London.
The hotel, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, is operated under a lease by Hilton Hotels Corporation. It is one of the four properties with a combined value of up to £650 million put up for sale by RBS last month through CB Richard Ellis Hotels, the property consultancy.
Bhatia, who faced competition from Qatari, Bahraini and Israeli investors to buy the Waldorf, is expected to retain the lease arrangement with Hilton, although sources believe she may seek to convert the lease to a management contract with the US hotel behemoth.
The four hotels, with 11 other Hilton properties, were due to be sold to Vector Hospitality, a putative real estate investment trust, for £1.1 billion. The deal collapsed in June when a proposed £2 billion flotation of Vector was cancelled. A few weeks later, RBS agreed to sell the 15 hotels to Robson Asset Management, an investment vehicle.
This sale failed because of the credit crisis.Bhatia, who owns the Hilton London Paddington and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham, came to Britain in 1976 and went on to become the first female Holiday Inn franchisee in the UK when she took over the Holiday Inn Gatwick.