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Carlyle’s ex Head of UK joins room2 to support growth of UK’s first hometel brand

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room2, the UK’s first hometel brand, has appointed Mark Harris, the former Head of UK & Ireland and Managing Director at The Carlyle Group, as Strategic Investment Partner.  

Harris’ primary role will be to help raise finance from institutions, family offices and high net worth individuals to enable up to GBP250 million of investment into room2’s pipeline of hometel developments across the UK, as it targets 5,000 operational or committed rooms by 2030. He brings more than 20 years’ industry experience including 13 years at The Carlyle Group, where he was responsible for over GBP2.5 billion of investments and played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of operational alternative real estate platforms including Pure Student Living and Uncommon coworking. Mark will also advise on the growth of the room2 platform and the development and delivery of new schemes.
 
Conceived in 2015, the hometel concept is the brainchild of brothers Robert and Stuart Godwin. Having spent years travelling as competitive dinghy sailors, including as members of the British Olympic Development Sailing Team, they were continually staying in impersonal, soulless accommodation where the rigidity of approach was often at odds with, or detrimental, to their training and travel patterns. With a background in real estate through their family business, the Lamington Group, the brothers recognised a gap in the market for high quality, affordable accommodation which bridged the gap between home and hotel in terms of design, personalisation and flexibility.
 
room2 hometels combine the best elements from Airbnb, serviced apartments and boutique hotels in an offering designed to appeal equally to corporate and leisure guests and those seeking alternative forms of residential accommodation. With innovative features such as kitchens in every room, the ability to select your own type of mattress and keyless check-in, room2’s highly flexible offer also includes 24 hour stays as standard with residences available from one night to one year and beyond.
 
room2 currently has two operational locations, the Southampton Hometel and Hammersmith Townhouse, both of which have performed strongly since opening. room2 has a further pipeline of live projects across the UK with a Gross Development Value of over GBP100 million, including sites in Chiswick and Manchester, featuring a mix of wholly owned assets and those pre-leased to room2 by development partners.
 
Robert Godwin, co-founder of room2, says: “Having successfully established two operating hometels which are performing very strongly, and identified a significant pipeline of properties and sites across the UK, we now feel it is important to look outside of the group and work with the right people who can help us grow. Mark’s 20-plus years in the industry, and particularly the first-hand experience he gained at The Carlyle Group of working with small teams to grow operational platforms in alternative real estate sectors, will be invaluable. Since we first began talking to Mark he understood completely our unique approach and focus on the individual needs of our guests to make them feel at home. We now look forward to working with Mark as we continue to grow our platform and firmly establish room2’s position at the forefront of the hometel sector.”
 
Mark Harris, room2’s Strategic Investment Partner and founder of Orchard Grove Strategic Partners, adds: “In a convoluted and crowded marketplace dominated by big brands and ubiquitous design, and one in which the customer is becoming increasingly discerning, I believe it is crucial for a brand to be able to stand out and deliver sustainable advantage through a unique offering. room2’s hometels do exactly that and I look forward to being able to leverage my operational real estate expertise and institutional relationships to help grow the platform. Hometels is a nascent yet and hugely undersupplied market, and I firmly believe the wide-ranging appeal and flexibility of room2’s product provides a compelling investment opportunity which also offers defensive characteristics in a more challenging economic environment.”

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