Budget boutique hotel chain Motel One eyes Dublin move
Owners Dieter Müller and Ursula Schelle-Müller plan to open eight hotels in 2017
Motel One now operates 56 hotels with 15,165 rooms across Germany, Austria, the UK, Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Switzerland
Motel One, the pan-European low-cost boutique hotel chain, is actively looking at the Irish market and expects to open at a location in Dublin soon.
Founded by Dieter Müller in Munich in 2000, the company, which opened its first hotel in Offenbach, near Frankfurt, now operates 56 hotels with 15,165 rooms across Germany, Austria, the UK, Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Switzerland.
Although the company initially focused on opening design-led budget hotels near urban centres, it soon changed strategy to concentrate on hotels that were in central locations in many of Europe’s biggest cities.
The company offers flat rates for hotel rooms rather than fluctuating day-to-day prices.
Still run by Mr Müller and his wife Ursula Schelle-Müller, Motel One intends to open at least eight hotels with about 3,000 rooms in 2017, with the company expanding into three new countries. The expansion is part of a plan to increase the total number of properties it has to 83, with 24,100 rooms.
Speaking to The Irish Times, the couple said the company was hoping to make an announcement regarding Dublin shortly.
“We’re close, very close to it. Dublin is a fantastic market, with the rates having come back very quickly after the crash. It is very impressive,” said Ms Schelle-Müller.
“Dublin is a beautiful city. We were just there and it was fantastic to see such a great atmosphere on the streets. There was a real vibrancy about the place. Property prices are of course expensive and this can have an impact, but we have opened hotels in London and Zurich, where there are also high costs,” she added.
The couple were finalists in this year’s EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards, which took place in Monaco at the weekend.
Ms Schelle-Müller said the company had strict criteria when it comes to choosing cities in which to open hotels.
“There should be a strong overnight market and a good inner-city location with plenty of business and leisure tourism,” she said.
Such a strategy seems to be paying off, with Motel One recording sales in the first quarter that were up 12 per cent to €82 million from €74 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (ebitda) rose 37 per cent to €23 million from €17 million.
The company founders said it was also eying a potential move outside of Europe to the US and Asia but that this was some way off at the moment.
“Right now we’re still very focused on cities in Europe. There are other markets we are interested in but they aren’t our main focus,” she said.
Speaking about the company’s origins, Ms Schelle-Müller said Motel One founded an entirely new segment in the market by bringing quality and design to budget accommodation.
“People discovered when staying with us that there was more than just four- or five-star hotels available in cities and that you could stay somewhere comfortable while paying less.”