Naomi Heaton is the chief executive of The Other House, which is offering a cutting edge type of new accommodation
Travel restrictions and lockdowns due to the pandemic have been a major blow to the hospitality industry.
Some establishments have cut staff numbers to survive, while those who continued to struggle had to shut their doors.
But now one property expert believes she has the answer to how the industry can be transformed to cater to a new set of smart travellers.
Property queen Naomi Heaton is launching The Other House, which she claims will disrupt the traditional sectors of hotels, serviced apartments and private rentals by offering travellers home comforts married with hotel style facilities.
Heaton has made a career out of selling London property to the super rich, but now she’s focusing her attention on promoting pied-à-terre accommodation aimed at businesses and leisure travellers looking for temporary living spaces in the heart of the capital.
Naomi says: ‘The Other House caters to consumers looking for flexibility, style and greater personalisation and who embrace responsibility and slow travel.
‘Our mission is to create spaces that enhance the overall guest experience and completely reinvent how people stay, providing a renewed sense of space, place, ownership and engagement.
‘The concept paves the way for a new era of smart travellers.’
What is The Other House?
The Other House is a new lifestyle brand of residents’ clubs that will launched in spring next year by The Portfolio Club – another company that Naomi founded and manages as chief executive officer.
The Portfolio Club was launched in 2019 and is a joint venture partnership between real estate investment advisory London Central Portfolio and APG, the largest pension provider in the Netherlands.
Over the last 12 months the venture acquired two properties – Harrington Hall in South Kensington and Wellington Block in Covent Garden. Harrington Hall was put on the market in 2018 for £130million, by Olayan Group – a Saudi Arabian multinational and was bought by The Portfolio Club in 2019.
The Wellington Block, meanwhile, was sold to The Portfolio Club for £76.5million by Capco.
Harrington Hall was put on the market in 2018 for £130m, by Olayan Group – a Saudi Arabian multinational – and was bought by The Portfolio Club in 2019
Both buildings required significant development to be transformed into Clubs which each offer around 200 ‘club flats’ or pied-à-terre accommodation.
Naomi says the company won’t be launching any price lists until the end of this year but adds: ‘The ballpark figure would be around £250 a night and if you stay longer it will be less.’
The flats will be marketed at ‘slow travellers’ who will have the option to stay for as long or as little as they wish. They will consist of a luxury living area, sleeping area and a kitchen. Residents and members will also be able to access private spaces, bars, a bistro-style kitchen – boasting constantly changing seasonal menus – and spa fitness studios.
Access will be automated through The Other House’s tech platform and app, which will enable guests to check in automatically through keyless entry. Bookings for restaurants, bars and services will be conducted through the app as well to ensure minimal contact and compliance with Covid-19 social distancing rules.
A homely feel
Naomi explains that The Other House is moving away from large scale banqueting and conference facilities as people now desire to live in spaces that make them feel like they’re lodging in a ‘home away from home’.
The Other House caters to consumers looking for flexibility, style and greater personalisation and who embrace responsibility and slow travel
Naomi Heaton chief executive of The Other House
She admits it’s not a new idea but maintains The Other House will have first mover advantage. ‘It’s a concept that was in the making in the last eight to nine years and is not something that we’ve just come up with – it’s just a child of its time.
‘We could see the long-let market would look for location over space. The need would be for smaller units that were well designed with 24/7 services.’
She adds: ‘It’s completely flexible living so you can come for a day, a week, a month or a year. We are catering to a mixed audience – we do expect to see leisure and corporate travellers using the place two to three days a week. We will also include storage facilities for those who want to leave their kit behind, so we cater to any length of stay – whatever people are looking for.’
Naomi believes the market will evolve to offer travellers more ‘home away from home’ options. Changes are afoot in part because of the pandemic but also because the demands made by travellers who have become comfortable with the work from home environment and are looking for flexibility so that they can adapt quickly if anything changes.
The Wellington Block was sold to The Portfolio Club for £76.5m by Capco.
Impact of the pandemic
Naomi says the impact of the pandemic on hospitality and real estate has been felt in a number of ways. She says there’s a lot of focus on people’s desire to move out of cramped accommodation and to access more green space.
But she’s sceptical about it being the only reason: ‘How much of that is a reality I don’t know. What is clear though is that lots of people are moving but I would suggest this is more due to the stamp duty holiday.
‘It’s enabled people to move and loosened up the property market. It shows what a dampener stamp duty has had on the property market.’
Virtual meetings are useful and can save you time, but you never get the same level of interaction and spontaneity.
Naomi Heaton chief executive of The Other House
She says: ‘Transactions have fallen steadily over the last few years and this is in large part due to the stamp duty rises, Brexit and political uncertainty.
‘We’ve had retail and hospitality flat on its back. The amount of commercial space now available to rent is enormous because of the number of companies that have gone out of business.
‘You do want people to spend and if you dampen the market you don’t free up the property for others to buy – you just reduce the amount of money coming into the economy.
‘We do need to raise taxes and pay for services, but as stamp duty rose it actually diminished [intake] because of the suppression of transactions. These calculations must be carefully balanced.’
Travel won’t stop
Many will wonder whether now is a propitious time for a multi-million-pound property investment in central London? Naomi maintains that commuters, global businesses and holidaymakers will soon revive the demand for accommodation in major cities.
She says: ‘Virtual meetings are useful and can save you time, but you never get the same level of interaction and spontaneity.
‘I do genuinely believe that while people want more of a balance it’s not going to be 100 per cent work from home, as businesses can’t survive that way.’
This is why she believes her Other House concept will work well. ‘Central London will remain a global capital of choice for the corporate and leisure traveller. Young people in particular will still value office interaction. Work is a great learning and social environment.
‘You will see the return of the international traveller. You will also see the growth of pied-à-terre and the growth of The Other House as it suits those who want to come in regularly but don’t want to come in all the time.’
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