Sad: Villa Kennedy Frankfurt (Rocco Forte) Is Closing

Sad: Villa Kennedy Frankfurt (Rocco Forte) Is Closing

47

Here’s a hotel closing I’m personally sad to read about…

Villa Kennedy Frankfurt closes April 1, 2022

It has just been revealed that Villa Kennedy Frankfurt will be shutting down as of April 1, 2022. The hotel, which belonged to the Rocco Forte collection, was in operation for over 15 years, since 2006. Employees at the hotel will allegedly be offered transfers to the group’s 15 other properties, though that likely won’t be convenient for most, since it would require moving.

The 163-room hotel was generally regarded as Frankfurt’s best place to stay, and the hotel also had quite a history that dates back well over 100 years. The hotel was purchased by CONREN Land in 2021, which is currently examining future concepts for the property, including the possibility of it becoming a retirement home.

Villa Kennedy Frankfurt

Why I’m sad to see Villa Kennedy closing

Obviously hotel closings in general are sad, since many people lose their jobs. Beyond that, though, this is a property that I really enjoyed. My family is from a small town in Germany not far from Frankfurt, and typically when I visit I like to first spend a couple of nights in Frankfurt.

Even though Frankfurt is a business hub, the city lacks luxury hotels. There are plenty of decent mid-range properties, but that’s about it. Villa Kennedy was the exception, as it was truly such a charming, relaxing property, with great service. I loved how the hotel had a beautiful courtyard, which was a lovely place to enjoy a drink outdoors in the summer.

Villa Kennedy Frankfurt courtyard

For example, the other “luxury” property in the city is Jumeirah Frankfurt, which is completely unremarkable.

A few general thoughts on the Rocco Forte brand and the Frankfurt hotel market:

  • I doubt it’s happening since the property owners don’t seem to plan on keeping this a hotel, but can another luxury hotel brand please take over management of this property? I really think it could succeed more with access to a better distribution system, whether that comes in the form of a Park Hyatt, St. Regis, or Four Seasons
  • I’ve long thought that the Rocco Forte brand is ripe for a takeover; the company has a small collection of excellent luxury properties, and the footprint complements some other luxury hotel brands quite nicely
  • Even forgetting this property, are there any luxury hotel openings on the horizon for Frankfurt?
  • Why does Frankfurt have so few luxury hotels, given what a financial hub it is? The best theory I can come up with is that it comes down to there not being huge elasticity when it comes to room rates for luxury properties in the city, along with a lack of premium leisure demand, but is there something else I’m missing?
Frankfurt lacks good luxury hotels

Bottom line

Villa Kennedy Frankfurt, a Rocco Forte hotel, will be closing as of April 1, 2022. When I first saw the news I was almost excited, thinking that maybe it would be rebranded as another luxury hotel where one could earn or redeem points. But it sounds to me like the plan is for the property to be converted into something different.

I’m sad to see this closing as I’ve stayed here several times and have fond memories. As someone with close ties to Frankfurt, I really wish we’d see a great new property in the city…

I’ll still make my plea — if anyone responsible for expansion with Park Hyatt, St. Regis, Waldorf Astoria, Four Seasons, or Mandarin Oriental, etc., is reading this, please make something happen. 😉

What do you make of Villa Kennedy closing, and the general Frankfurt hotel market?

(Tip of the hat to Max)

Conversations (47)
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  1. Janet Guest

    What a loss. It is my favorite hotel in Frankfurt. Glad I took my husband there before Covid, so he could see why I enjoyed it so much on business trips to Frankfurt. I hope it remains a hotel.

  2. Mallthus Gold

    Yes, Frankfurt is a financial hub, but it’s a financial hub like Charlotte is a financial hub. The big deals with CEOs, sheiks, and the like go down in London, NYC, and Zurich.

    Frankfurt is where the business of finance gets done and the middle managers that do the workaday business of finance haven’t been traveling and when they eventually get back to it, they’ll be staying in the same upper mid-tier hotels they’ve...

    Yes, Frankfurt is a financial hub, but it’s a financial hub like Charlotte is a financial hub. The big deals with CEOs, sheiks, and the like go down in London, NYC, and Zurich.

    Frankfurt is where the business of finance gets done and the middle managers that do the workaday business of finance haven’t been traveling and when they eventually get back to it, they’ll be staying in the same upper mid-tier hotels they’ve always stayed in, the Marriott, the Le Meridian, the Crowne Plaza, etc.

    True luxury hotels require wealthy customers who either pay for their own rooms, write their own ticket consultants, and/or executives who don’t need their expense reports approved. Frankfurt doesn’t get enough of any of those groups to support a place like Villa Kennedy, which as nice as it was, was pretty purely a business hotel (as opposed to a resort).

  3. Stephen C West Guest

    The Villa was always my first stop when I would fly into Frankfurt on my way to Munich for Oktoberfest. Last year, even though the festival was cancelled, I took my son to Germany and introduced him to my favorite hotel. He gave it two thumbs up. I had no idea at the time that it would be my last stay. Time marches on.

  4. Pedro Morag Guest

    I have stayed at Villa Kennedy many times and it was basically the only thing I looked forward to when visiting Frankfurt. I have been lucky enough to stay in many luxury hotels throughout the world I can honestly say that Villa Kennedy was the best value for money out of the lot of them. For example, it was half the price of most 5 star luxury hotels in London but was better than all...

    I have stayed at Villa Kennedy many times and it was basically the only thing I looked forward to when visiting Frankfurt. I have been lucky enough to stay in many luxury hotels throughout the world I can honestly say that Villa Kennedy was the best value for money out of the lot of them. For example, it was half the price of most 5 star luxury hotels in London but was better than all of them.

    Of course the main problem was that Villa Kennedy was a fantastic hotel that was unfortunately located in a less than fantastic city that was only remotely attractive due to its financial hub status. it relied on its business clientele which evaporated in the last 2 years.

  5. WillC Guest

    I just finished a fantastic stay at Villa Kennedy without realizing it was closing in a matter of weeks until I checked out. Ben’s review is spot on and and it’s a shame to that this hotel is closing its doors.

  6. Patrice Guest

    Such a lovely time spent in il l’a Kennedy for the last 10 years, more or less twice a year, always the same room and always this incredible feeling to stay home
    Too sad and one more victim of this COVID period

  7. Chris Guest

    I guess many wealthy people stay outside Frankfurt, even when they have business in the city.

    For example, here: https://schlosshotel-kronberg.com

    1. greg99 Gold

      I stayed at the Schloss Kronberg many years ago and loved it. Someday I want to take my family there, but as others have pointed out, there's generally no reason to vacation near Frankfurt...

  8. vlcnc Guest

    Frankfurt is just an incredibly dull city with few people there to genuinely visit for leisure, so I think that is probably the answer. Business travellers have different needs and companies are increasingly price-conscious so luxury hotels are not something that would be booked, even when that kind of travel returns.

  9. Joeboo Guest

    Agree 100% FRA does not have many great 5* properties. I have stayed at VK 10+ times over last five years, always business. Never super impressed, bad location, customer service really slipped last two years. I prefer the Sofitel Opera. Accor has stepped up their service, footprint in Europe. The Opera Suite very nice, many great restaurants in easy walking distance. I have a couple fantastic restaurants if interested/ send PM.

  10. Frederik Guest

    Hi Lucky,

    This is sad news, I was very regular to Frankfurt from LON before the pandemic and Brexit.

    Another property they has closed is the Intercontinental Frankfurt, although it will apparently reopen in 2024. Although the interiors were dated I personally loved the 1980s style as it is hard to find it now, and the river view rooms had great views for watching the huge barges go past on the Main, heading up towards...

    Hi Lucky,

    This is sad news, I was very regular to Frankfurt from LON before the pandemic and Brexit.

    Another property they has closed is the Intercontinental Frankfurt, although it will apparently reopen in 2024. Although the interiors were dated I personally loved the 1980s style as it is hard to find it now, and the river view rooms had great views for watching the huge barges go past on the Main, heading up towards the Rhine then on to Belgium and the Netherlands.

    I agree it is odd so few luxury properties, especially when Frankfurt is one of Europes keystone airport hubs. But Germans themselves seems to like quite basic and functional hotels, like Scandinavians. There doesn’t seem a huge domestic market there for luxury properties. Maybe try the larger category business suites with balcony at Lindner Business Hotel next time, although not extravagant they are very spacious. And they have a view of the river, various bridges, and the flight path into the airport. Spotted many 748s and 777s while I was there.

  11. pstm91 Diamond

    I'm not sure what being a financial hub has to do with warranting luxury hotels. Sure, other cities that are financial hubs have them, but those cities typically have a lot more to offer too. I don't know anyone who travels to Germany with the intent of staying more than a night or two in Frankfurt, and that is usually due to a quick business stop or a pitstop on their way elsewhere. There is...

    I'm not sure what being a financial hub has to do with warranting luxury hotels. Sure, other cities that are financial hubs have them, but those cities typically have a lot more to offer too. I don't know anyone who travels to Germany with the intent of staying more than a night or two in Frankfurt, and that is usually due to a quick business stop or a pitstop on their way elsewhere. There is just not enough else there to keep people there, or make people want to visit and stay at a luxury hotel.

    I'm not sure I follow your logic for saying Rocco Forte is ripe for a takeover either? They do what they do very well, and as you mention have very highly regarded hotels. They've grown a bit over the past several years. What would their motivation be to sell?

    1. Stuart Guest

      Because Bill Gates and Prince Al-Waleed own Four Seasons and are pumping huge investments into buying existing and building new hotels. Soon Rocco Forte (who is getting older) is going to find himself without the cash to develop and the difficulty of competing against larger brands with better brand recognition (even in his home country). I personally love Rocco Forte Hotels, I find them unique and with a special appeal. But the reality is that...

      Because Bill Gates and Prince Al-Waleed own Four Seasons and are pumping huge investments into buying existing and building new hotels. Soon Rocco Forte (who is getting older) is going to find himself without the cash to develop and the difficulty of competing against larger brands with better brand recognition (even in his home country). I personally love Rocco Forte Hotels, I find them unique and with a special appeal. But the reality is that they are stuck in a bit of a weird pocket. As an example, while The Charles is very nice in Munich, I still opt for the Mandarin if not too distant in price given the nice perks offered in The Fan program...and because it has overall a nicer feel and a better location. I just don't think Forte can survive long term as the bigger luxury brands move in. Making them ripe for a takeover or sale of properties as we see here.

      I have no doubt that Four Seasons looked at Villa Kennedy given it's been quietly up for sale for some time. It would be a perfect building and set up for them. The problem is Frankfurt, as you said.

  12. Cristian Dorel Guest

    The next closing Hotel it s Jumeirah Frankfurt Hotel. All the workers ,Best workers are getting away from there.No future,with Daniela Fette Rakovsky an board.She ruined Villa Kennedy...now the next on the list it s Jumeirah Frankfurt Hotel.

  13. John Guest

    Frankfurt's hotel strength only derives in part from the financial center. The trade fair is more crucial. Frankfurt Messe is (according to Wikipedia) the world's largest trade fair, exhibition, and event organizer.

    Of course, the company Frankfurt Messe isn't just invested in Frankfurt, but it's still their largest hub (Frankfurter Buchmesse, Ambiente, Musikmesse with Pro Light + Sound, Paperworld, Achema).

    The trade fair business in Germany has been dead for two years now. Lots of...

    Frankfurt's hotel strength only derives in part from the financial center. The trade fair is more crucial. Frankfurt Messe is (according to Wikipedia) the world's largest trade fair, exhibition, and event organizer.

    Of course, the company Frankfurt Messe isn't just invested in Frankfurt, but it's still their largest hub (Frankfurter Buchmesse, Ambiente, Musikmesse with Pro Light + Sound, Paperworld, Achema).

    The trade fair business in Germany has been dead for two years now. Lots of hotels in Frankfurt have collapsed not unrelated to that.

    In the luxury segment, Hessischer Hof faltered at the end of last year, it was part of Leading Hotels of the World).

    In the upscale and mainstream segments, several others shut down. The smaller chain Fleming's closed three of its Frankfurt properties (two of them in close proximity to the Messe). The owner of a Holiday Inn Express near the airport went bankrupt as well. Lastly, and that's just my personal guess, I suspect several midscale hotels which switched to the Premier Inn brand during the pandemic wouldn't have made it under their previous branding.

    1. Donato Guest

      Much as a rising tide the Messe causes all hotels to fill up and prices seem to be triple the normal rates, prices that cause one's ryes to tear. This goes for anything down to 2 star.

  14. Matthew Guest

    Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof is historically considered the premium hotel in Frankfurt. BTW, the Steigenberger chain hotels are a bit dated but mostly in very exclusive downtown locations. Interestingly there are some German medium to upscale hotel chains, that might be candidates for a take over by the big ones (Steigenberger, but also on a mid premium level the Dorint Hotels, also possibly the Lindner Hotels).

    1. Rock Guest

      Agree. I love staying there as long as you are in one of the updated rooms. And it so convenient. My stay at Villa Kennedy was blah to stay the least. Rooms were awkward and their idea of a garden view was the neighbor's parking lot!

  15. Nate nate Guest

    Great hotel, but "Kenny"?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Nate nate -- Whoops, fixed. Thanks.

  16. David Guest

    So where is the best place to stay in Frankfurt now? (preferably on points)

    1. Klaus Guest

      You should consider Villa Rothschild, which is in a posh suburb in the Taunus Mountains. Ot is a beautiful place.

      It’s part of the Autograph Collection.

    2. Max Guest

      Intercontinental after the current extensive renovation is finished. Hyatt House Eschborn (outside of the center) is also ok.

    3. Nate nate Guest

      I would suggest working from home if possible.

  17. Paul Guest

    Slightly OT, the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau is also shutting for good next month

    https://ewnews.com/iconic-landmark-shuts-doors-british-colonial-hilton-to-close-indefinitely-on-february-15

  18. Mak Guest

    This is a rather expensive property that existed on bankers traveling on expense accounts, and those people are now hardly traveling. RF properties are generally geared specifically to those with no price sensitivity - meaning paying with OPM (other people's money) - and I don't think too many of their hotels can survive without financial industry business travel. They are in the wrong end of the market indeed.

    1. Jason Guest

      Inaccurate. RF properties in Rome and other Italian cities are definitely geared towards higher end tourists. I'll be staying in the de la ville in October. Not on OPM. Believe it or not, there is a high end leisure market out there, and that market seems to be doing pretty well right now. You're correct, not cheap, but there are destinations such as Rome and others that attract that sort of clientele.

    2. chasgoose Guest

      That's fair regarding the RF properties in Rome and a few other places, but there is very little premium tourist travel (or any tourist travel) to Frankfurt, and Villa Kennedy almost certainly relied on guests spending OPM.

    3. Jason Guest

      I'd agree with you on that one.

    4. John Guest

      You are wrong there is no tourist travel to Frankfurt. Guests from out of town spent 10.7 million nights in Frankfurt hotels in 2019.

      Many of them are tourists. In fact, the majority of the ~5 million nights accounted for by domestic travel is for leisure purposes. Frankfurt is also a popular destination of Asians coming, among other things, for luxury shopping (lower taxes on luxury goods here than in places like China).

      Sure, Frankfurt...

      You are wrong there is no tourist travel to Frankfurt. Guests from out of town spent 10.7 million nights in Frankfurt hotels in 2019.

      Many of them are tourists. In fact, the majority of the ~5 million nights accounted for by domestic travel is for leisure purposes. Frankfurt is also a popular destination of Asians coming, among other things, for luxury shopping (lower taxes on luxury goods here than in places like China).

      Sure, Frankfurt is not at the same level as Rome or Paris. But, with 10.7 million nights, it is on par with cities like Lissabon, Budapest, or Milan.

    5. pstm91 Diamond

      Those numbers tell you next to nothing. Of course there are going to be millions of hotel nights in Frankfurt each year - it's a global transfer hub and financial center. If you're looking at tourist numbers, the length of the stay would be much more interesting to see. I guarantee you most stays in Frankfurt are no more than a couple of nights and are due primarily to business trips or transfers. Let's be...

      Those numbers tell you next to nothing. Of course there are going to be millions of hotel nights in Frankfurt each year - it's a global transfer hub and financial center. If you're looking at tourist numbers, the length of the stay would be much more interesting to see. I guarantee you most stays in Frankfurt are no more than a couple of nights and are due primarily to business trips or transfers. Let's be honest, virtually no one who is spending the money to stay at a RF property is planning their trip to Frankfurt... they are going to Berlin, Munich, and other unique places in Germany such as Baden Baden, Lanserhof, etc.

    6. John Guest

      You are wrong about that.

      Due to the new "Tourismusabgabe" (lodging tax), the fractions of business vs. leisure days can be computed by the tourism bureau.

      60% of nights are business-related, 40% are leisure. That's a lot of leisure nights (almost 5 million). Only around 15 or so big cities in Europe that see more tourists. (Places like London, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Stockholm, or Amsterdam are bigger.)

    7. Donato Guest

      I was returning back to the USA with family, we broke the long haul to stop in Zurich a few days. The Passport control asked the reason for travel and I said shopping. Her response was to laugh, few leisure visitors and not for shopping (with exceptions).
      OK, my incident was in Zurich but to me, Frankfurt has less leisure desirability than Zurich.

  19. YY Fung Guest

    I’m shocked. I communicated with the staff for booking for end of July 2022 and they did not reject my booking . They even introduced me a package.
    Then I even used Amex Platinum credit to book two nights on end of July 2022.
    Oh what should I do now?
    I really wanted to visit and stay there due to the overall awesome comments.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ YY Fung -- Ugh, that's unfortunate timing! I imagine they'll reach out to you soon and inform you of the closing. This was just announced, so it might take a few days, or even a few weeks.

    2. YY Fung Guest

      One of the nights was they 2021 Amex credit . I’m not sure Amex will claw it back.

  20. Klaus Guest

    Hello Ben,

    How about the „Frankfurter Hof“ by Steigenberger. Among locals, that Hotel probably is considered more prestigious than the RF Villa Kennedy. The disadvantage is that Steigenberger is a brand not well known in the USA.
    And then there also is the Sofitel which probably can be considered luxury.

    A 25 minute taxi ride away is the Villa Rothschild in the Taunus mountains. You will like this hotel! And it’s also Autograph Collection.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Klaus -- Thanks, I guess I'll give the Frankfurter Hof or Sofitel a try on my next stay to see how they compare. Then again, sadly it looks like these properties don't even belong to Virtuoso, so there would be no way to get free breakfast, a hotel credit, etc.

    2. Motion to Dismiss Guest

      Those are Amex FHR properties so you can get the credit and breakfast that way.

      I had a booking at Villa Kennedy for July 2022, I also haven't been contacted yet. Very sad! Had a booking here before SQ Suites on FRA-JFK. I'll have to decide between Steigenberger Hof and the Sofitel--Hof at least has a Michelin star restaurant, so that's probably what I'll do.

    3. Donato Guest

      If you are not sleeping at the airport that is one early morning, lol. Maybe it is me but even at the airport hotels I am concerned about waking up in time for the SQ flight to JFK. That is even checking in the night before when they permit it. Twice a year they do manual check-in (computer off) as a drill, no night before check in.

    4. John Guest

      Frankfurter Hof is not well-regarded by locals (I count myself as one). I know quite a few people who moved things like receptions and guests from out of town elsewhere because they were unhappy.

      I think the new-ish Sofitel is the hotel I'd check out. The IC is currently under MAJOR renovation.

      I know neither Sofitel nor IC are true luxury, but those look like the two best bets to me.

    5. Motion to Dismiss Guest

      Thanks for that insight!

    6. Rock Guest

      Its really nice as long as you stay in one of their new rooms. It is the difference between 1960s (not the good one) and classy 2018. And there is a great Japanese restaurant next door that has been there for years. Their suites are really nice as well. And you cannot beat the central location.

  21. Stuart Guest

    Just saw this earlier and am shocked. This has been my go to for years there. I noticed a few things the last stay though, the restaurant was essentially closed (citing Covid) and they only had basic food service in the bar (burgers etc). Three nights a week a pop up Japanese restaurant served food in the once wonderful Italian restaurant adjacent. But it seemed thrown together and without much thought. The bar was also...

    Just saw this earlier and am shocked. This has been my go to for years there. I noticed a few things the last stay though, the restaurant was essentially closed (citing Covid) and they only had basic food service in the bar (burgers etc). Three nights a week a pop up Japanese restaurant served food in the once wonderful Italian restaurant adjacent. But it seemed thrown together and without much thought. The bar was also under staffed and without its former buzz. The courtyard furniture was dirty (this was in September so still warm) and not kept up and it seemed like they were not even interested in maintaining it for what was still warm weather.

    There were other little signs throughout as well, like no doorman most of the time I pulled up.

    I thought this was all Covid related...and it still may have been and also why they are selling it. The reliance on business travel in Frankfurt is so heavy and the huge expos and fairs all cancelled the past two years must have weighed heavy.

    I have stayed at both Jumeirah and Hessischer Hof as well and neither are anything special...quite basic actually. I assume that the lean is more to Expo hotels closer to the center that are larger to accommodate the massive fairs. Other than that there is little need for a luxury property win FRA without any leisure reasons.

    I guess I'll try the Sofitel next but it will never come close. This is truly sad and I wish the many wonderful staff I knew for years there the best going forward.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Stuart -- Happy I wasn't the only one who enjoyed this property. And yeah, during coronavirus stuff definitely seemed to be scaled back a bit. Interestingly that coincides with the hotel being sold.

    2. AW Guest

      Jumeirah is much nicer than "quite basic" (and a good location), but it's pretty similar to a high end Hyatt or Westin--not very close to a real luxury hotel.

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Chris Guest

I guess many wealthy people stay outside Frankfurt, even when they have business in the city. For example, here: https://schlosshotel-kronberg.com

1
Stuart Guest

Because Bill Gates and Prince Al-Waleed own Four Seasons and are pumping huge investments into buying existing and building new hotels. Soon Rocco Forte (who is getting older) is going to find himself without the cash to develop and the difficulty of competing against larger brands with better brand recognition (even in his home country). I personally love Rocco Forte Hotels, I find them unique and with a special appeal. But the reality is that they are stuck in a bit of a weird pocket. As an example, while The Charles is very nice in Munich, I still opt for the Mandarin if not too distant in price given the nice perks offered in The Fan program...and because it has overall a nicer feel and a better location. I just don't think Forte can survive long term as the bigger luxury brands move in. Making them ripe for a takeover or sale of properties as we see here. I have no doubt that Four Seasons looked at Villa Kennedy given it's been quietly up for sale for some time. It would be a perfect building and set up for them. The problem is Frankfurt, as you said.

1
John Guest

Frankfurt's hotel strength only derives in part from the financial center. The trade fair is more crucial. Frankfurt Messe is (according to Wikipedia) the world's largest trade fair, exhibition, and event organizer. Of course, the company Frankfurt Messe isn't just invested in Frankfurt, but it's still their largest hub (Frankfurter Buchmesse, Ambiente, Musikmesse with Pro Light + Sound, Paperworld, Achema). The trade fair business in Germany has been dead for two years now. Lots of hotels in Frankfurt have collapsed not unrelated to that. In the luxury segment, Hessischer Hof faltered at the end of last year, it was part of Leading Hotels of the World). In the upscale and mainstream segments, several others shut down. The smaller chain Fleming's closed three of its Frankfurt properties (two of them in close proximity to the Messe). The owner of a Holiday Inn Express near the airport went bankrupt as well. Lastly, and that's just my personal guess, I suspect several midscale hotels which switched to the Premier Inn brand during the pandemic wouldn't have made it under their previous branding.

1
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