While Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Cracow and Bucharest remain on top of their list, other regional cities are also targeted. However, there are also challenges, with around 28% of hotel projects in the pipeline facing delays or being put on hold, mainly due to the increased development costs.
More than 26 senior executives representing regional and international hotel operators active in CEE with approx. 450 hotels with over 72,000 rooms have completed Cushman & Wakefield’s Hotel Operator Beat 2023 for CEE-12.
The most attractive markets for operators* are Budapest (4.3 out of 5), Prague (4.2), Warsaw (4.0), Cracow (3.5) and Bucharest (3.5). Whilst Budapest claims the top position due to an increased interest by 10% compared to the last survey, the overall most attractive country is Poland with Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw (3.1) and Gdansk (3.1) being among the Top 7 markets.
Performance & Outlook – Poland & CEE-12
According to STR, Poland is currently ranked second in terms of RevPAR recovery in CEE-6 countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia). In H1 2023, the hotels in the country achieved a 23% increase in RevPAR compared to H1 2019 and a 35% increase compared to RevPAR in H1 2022. This increase was primarily driven by a 29% increase in ADR, although occupancy remains 5% below YTD June 2019 level.
Operators express positive sentiments about the future performance of hotels, particularly for the Luxury and Upper-Upscale classes, with 71% and 82% of respondents being optimistic or very optimistic, respectively. Regarding hotel types, extended stay and urban hotels are perceived to have the most optimistic outlook, according to 79% and 75% of surveyed operators, respectively.
Pipeline Trends CEE-12
The survey participants collectively operate 140 hotels, comprising over 22,000 rooms in various stages of the development across the CEE-12 region (Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine). Despite the significant development activity, approximately 17% of the projects face delays, with an additional 11% being on hold. This is primarily to development costs and challenges with debt funding, according to 65% and 35% of surveyed operators respectively. The most common delay for pipeline projects ranges from 6 to 12 months, according to 40% of the respondents.
The overall data suggests that the hospitality industry in the CEE-12 region is experiencing a healthy recovery. Despite the macro-economic and geopolitical challenges, there is a solid foundation for optimism and operators are keen to expand across multiple markets within the CEE-12 region, especially in Poland.
The fact that Warsaw has the highest rate of brand saturation among CEE-6 capital cities does not deter operators from entering the market or expanding further in the city. Despite the war in Ukraine, there is a promising performance recovery in the Polish hotel sector, which is one of three markets in CEE-6 that already surpassed pre-COVID levels. This is supported by the rebound of the passenger traffic at Polish airports that also exceeded Q1 2019 levels. All these aspects make Poland the most attractive country for hotel operators in the CEE region, with strong interest not only in Warsaw but also in regional markets. ~ Maciej Pronczuk, Hospitality Consultant
About the survey
Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality conducted the Hotel Operator Beat Survey in H1 2023. Completed by more than 26 senior executives representing hotel operators with an existing presence in the CEE-12 region or interest to enter the region, they operate more than 450 hotels with over 72,000 rooms in CEE-12, and over 140 proposed hotels comprising more than 22,000 rooms in the pipeline, combined. The survey is being extended to various regions across Europe, offering distinctive and exclusive insights at a pan-European level. It covers other areas such as trends in contract terms and environmental considerations, which will be published shortly.