Merlin Entertainments confirmed that they have agreed a sale and leaseback deal (SLB) with property investment fund Aprirose for the site adjacent to their LEGOLAND theme park in Windsor, on which the company is planning to build a themed hotel.
Announced earlier this year, the exciting 150-bed LEGOLAND themed hotel is scheduled to open at Easter 2012, and work is about to commence. The hotel is a key part of a £30m investment programme for the Park, designed to enhance the quality of the LEGOLAND experience, and turn it into a high quality, unique, short-break destination for families with young children.
The £18.5m deal covers only the 2.7acre site on which the hotel will stand. It does not in any way affect the theme park site itself, which remains part of Merlin’s freehold portfolio. Aprirose has granted Merlin an initial 35 year lease on the site, renewable for a further 35 years.
Commenting on the decision, Merlin Entertainments’ Property and Development Director, Nick Mackenzie said: “We are delighted to be working with Aprirose. The benefits of an SLB over other forms of financing for the new LEGOLAND Windsor hotel are potentially very significant. This is a very common arrangement in the leisure sector and a win win situation. It allows Merlin to continue our day to day business and investment plans exactly as before, without increasing our debt burden; freeing up operational cash to support other plans, and demonstrating a better return on capital. “
Manish Gudka, Aprirose said: “As a landlord the value of our investments are significantly increased if we are working with successful, high quality ‘tenant’ businesses. Merlin and LEGOLAND are ideal partners for us, and their plans for the new hotel are very exciting”.
The MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location based, family entertainment, which has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe’s number one, and the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin has 62 attractions and 6 hotels in 12 countries, across 3 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 38.5 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and almost 15, 000 employees. Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions – SEA LIFE – the world’s No 1 aquarium brand, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The Merlin Entertainments London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK, Chessington World of Adventures, Heide Park, Underwater Adventures, and Earth Explorer.