21c Museum Hotels sells a major ownership interest to AccorHotels for $51 million

Hotels in Cincinnati, Louisville and Lexington become the first U.S. members of Accor's international MGallery series of urban luxury lodgings

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click to enlarge 21c Museum Hotels have a new owner. - PHOTO: Provided
PHOTO: Provided
21c Museum Hotels have a new owner.

AccorHotels, which handles more than 4,500 hotels, resorts and residences across 100 different countries, today announced it has agreed to acquire 85% of 21c Museum Hotels, a boutique hotel chain featuring cutting-edge contemporary art in its public spaces and offering arts programming in addition to fine dining.

Started in Louisville in 2006 by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, 21c expanded to Cincinnati — converting the old Hotel Metropole — in 2012 and instantly became the city's most prestigious luxury hotel. It also fueled the trend toward rooftop bars at new Downtown hotels — you can't open one without it. There are now also 21c hotels in Lexington, Durham, N.C., Oklahoma City, Nashville, Bentonville, Ark., and Kansas City. 

AccorHotels' many brands include the Fairmount, Sofitel, Raffles, the Adagio chain of European "aparthotels," the Banyon Tree resorts in Phuket, Thailand and the Seychelles and Maldive islands, and many more. 21c Museum Hotels will join AccorHotels’ MGallery collection of boutique hotels, marking the introduction of that brand into the North American market. According to a press release, "Each MGallery property has its own unique design and story to tell, from Hotel Molitor Paris — MGallery and INK Hotel Amsterdam —  MGallery to Hotel Muse Bangkok Langsuan — MGallery and Harbour Rocks Hotel Sydney — MGallery."

The press release said that 21c co-founders Brown and Wilson will retain a 15% stake in the company and be closely involved in its management. It will continue to be led by President & CEO Craig Greenberg out of Louisville. The purchase price for the 85% stake is $51 million, including a potential earn-out payment. No real estate is included in the acquisition. 

 Wilson said in the press release that “21c Museum Hotels is proud to announce our entry into the AccorHotels family. AccorHotels is one of the world’s leading hotel operators and will be a perfect partner and catalyst for 21c’s continued growth. We are confident that the unique spirit of 21c will not only be preserved, but will flourish within the MGallery collection of boutique hotels. 21c will continue to bring the work of today’s most dynamic and engaging contemporary artists to the public, and this partnership will be a tremendous boost for 21c’s continued development in North America and abroad. We are extremely excited to see what the future holds.”

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