One of the most historic hotels in Trondheim looks set to help form the core of a new chain of luxury hotels operated by the Thon Hotels group of Norway. Thon will assume management just three days after its owner, real estate tycoon Olav Thon, celebrates his 90th birthday.
“This, in a way, will be a birthday gift to myself,” Thon told hotel employees during a meeting at the hotel on Thursday. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that Thon used to stay at the hotel when he was a traveling salesman in the 1950s and has wanted to run it ever since.
The hotel has been independently owned and operated, and has faced severe competitive challenges in a tough Trondheim hotel market. It has logged losses for several years with an occupancy rate of just 60 percent last year. Asked how Thon expected to reverse the trend, he replied “I generally manage to do well with what I attempt. It’s an old habit.”
His large chain of mostly modest hotels for economy-minded travelers has been expanding with several new and upmarket properties from Oslo to Lofoten and Kautokeino. In addition to its 62 hotels in Norway, Thon operates one in Sweden, five in Brussels and one in Rotterdam.
It already has three high-end hotels (Bristol in Oslo, Rosenkrantz in Bergen and Stanhope in Brussels) “and we may establish a chain, Thon Classics, for example,” said Thon, who personally greeted all employees at the Britannia on Thursday.
DN reported that the Britannia has been operated by the estate of Jon Einar Botten, which also owns 40 percent of the hotel. The rest was sold last year to local investors Francis S Hay and Øyvind Antonsen for NOK 370 million (USD 64 million). Thon indicated that renovation of the hotel’s 247 rooms was a high priority.