It owns among the world’s most luxurious resorts, together with the Cipriani in Venice, the Splendido in Portofino, the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, in addition to working the Venice-Simplon Orient Categorical and Royal Scotsman luxurious prepare companies.
And shortly Belmond Group, which relies within the UK however listed on the New York Inventory Alternate, may have a brand new proprietor equally steeped on the planet of luxurious.
The corporate has agreed to a takeover by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the French baggage, fragrance, style, champagne and cognac mix, in a deal value a complete of $three.2bn (£2.5bn) as soon as Belmond’s money owed are included.
The deal additional extends the attain of LVMH within the luxurious journey market.
The corporate, which is 46% owned by the household of Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man, already owns the Bulgari resorts model and Cheval Blanc, a set of luxurious properties in places resembling Courchevel and the Maldives, that cater for the super-rich on their travels.
It additionally confirms the rising significance of the luxurious journey class which, after experiencing a interval within the doldrums following the monetary disaster, is rising strongly.
For LVMH, the acquisition is one thing of a coup, because it beat off curiosity from many deep-pocketed opponents, that are thought to have included the personal fairness companies Blackstone and KKR in addition to sovereign wealth funds from the Center East.
Accor, the French resorts big, was stated to have been at one stage, whereas in February this yr, The Instances reported that Belmond had held preliminary sale discussions with Britain’s Intercontinental Lodge Group, proprietor of the Vacation Inn chain.
America’s Hilton Motels was additionally thought to have taken a have a look at the enterprise too.
The takeover additionally marks a return to mergers and acquisitions for LVMH after a main €12.1bn deal final yr, which united the entire of the Christian Dior model collectively underneath a single proprietor for the primary time in 70 years.
Mr Arnault stated: “Belmond delivers distinctive experiences to discerning travellers and owns numerous distinctive belongings in probably the most fascinating locations. This acquisition will considerably enhance LVMH’s presence within the final hospitality world.”
But there’s one other dimension to the deal from LVMH’s perspective: it’s a recognition that youthful shoppers, particularly millennials, are extra focused on experiences than in possessions. They’re considered as being extra more likely to pay for a keep in a luxurious resort than they’re a luxurious purse.
The story of Belmond is as fascinating as the luxurious belongings it owns. The enterprise was created in 1976 when James Sherwood, the American-born however British-based entrepreneur who based the transport big Sea Containers, purchased the then loss-making Cipriani from the Guinness household for $1.4m.
Following an outcry over the closure of the service, in 1977, Mr Sherwood adopted this by shopping for numerous railway carriages from the unique Orient Categorical with a view to reopening it.
The logic underpinning this was that the service would convey extra clients to Venice for the Cipriani. He launched the Venice-Simplon Orient Categorical – the unique Orient Categorical model title stays owned by the French nationwide rail operator SNCF – working restored carriages from the unique service between London and Venice in 1982.
Different acquisitions adopted alongside the way in which together with 21, the luxurious New York membership and restaurant, earlier than Mr Sherwood determined to drift off Orient Categorical Motels as a separate firm on the New York Inventory Alternate in August 2000.
Sea Containers retained management of the enterprise for some time however, after its earnings collapsed following the phobia assaults of September 2001, it diminished its holding in Orient Categorical Motels to beneath 50% in late 2002.
It offered the final of its shares in 2005 – months earlier than Mr Sherwood resigned from all his positions with Sea Containers which, in late 2006, collapsed after its GNER rail franchise turned the primary of a number of operators to come back a cropper working the East Coast major line.
Rumours of doable takeover bids for Orient Categorical Motels got here and went over time and, in 2012, Mr Sherwood resurfaced to help a bid by Ratan Tata, the Indian billionaire whose firm owns Jaguar Land Rover.
That try was seen off and, in 2014, the corporate renamed itself Belmond after SNCF introduced plans to launch numerous merchandise, together with luxurious baggage, underneath the Orient Categorical model.
That renaming, with hindsight, was a touch that the corporate noticed its future underneath one other proprietor because it was an acknowledgement that some house owners may be reluctant to purchase right into a enterprise whose major model and really title was truly owned by a 3rd social gathering.
Followers of the corporate’s resorts, resorts and companies will probably be relieved that Belmond has fallen into the arms of an proprietor unlikely to interrupt it up, as a non-public fairness purchaser would have, or compromise on its requirements as some rival resort operators might need been tempted.
LVMH’s possession is more likely to signify continuity.