A ‘Grand’ makeover after 144 years for Venice’s Hotel Bauer

The historic five-star hotel on the Grand Canal has been closed since 2022 for renovation, and now has a new owner.

Despite being promised a bright future via redevelopment and rebranding in 2022, the fate of the historic Hotel Bauer in Venice was brought into question when its debt-laden Austrian owner Signa Prime Selection could no longer deliver its blueprint.

Not only has the five-star hotel been closed since 2022 for renovation, but the process also stopped in 2023 when Signa ran into insolvency, according to Bloomberg News. As part of the Austrian real estate company’s restructuring plan, Signa has reportedly sold the hotel to US manager King Street Capital Management for an undisclosed sum.

This is not the first time private equity capital has been involved in the ownership of Hotel Bauer. Elliott Management and Blue Skye Investments acquired stakes in the hotel from its previous owner, the Bortolotto Possati family, through a series of debt restructuring deals between 2017 and 2019. In the latter year, the pair bought out the last 25 percent stake from the family in a deal reportedly valuing the property at €400 million. Shortly after that, Signa acquired the hotel in 2020 and subsequently selected Rosewood to manage the asset in 2022.

Located on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, the Bauer is located next to the world-famous Piazza San Marco. Designed by Italian architect Giovanni Sardi, the eclectic, neogothic-style hotel was opened in 1880 by Austrian entrepreneur Julius Grünwald and his wife. After Grünwald’s death, the hotel was sold to the Italian Benatti family in 1930 and then subsequently passed to one of the family’s descendants in the Bortolotto Possati family.

While King Street has not confirmed its plan for the hotel, Hotel Bauer is expected to be rebranded as a Rosewood hotel upon the completion of its planned makeover in 2025.

Under the renovation plan, the historical framework of the hotel will be repaired and preserved while new designs will be integrated. Moreover, sustainability will be a key element for the refurbished property, which is expected to achieve the Green Pass, Klima Haus and LEED Gold certifications.

Led by Venice-based architect Alberto Torsello and interior design group BAR Studio, the renovated hotel will comprise 110 rooms, a bistro-style restaurant, a fine-dining restaurant, a bar on the ground floor, a bar with a rooftop terrace, a luxurious wellness facility and an outdoor pool with a bar. In addition, a 32,000 square foot luxury retail space will be added at the rear of the property.

A taste for Venice

This is not the first time King Street has demonstrated an interest in Venice hospitality. In 2022, the firm partnered with US manager Starwood Capital Group to provide a €330 million refinancing package against the Hotel Danieli, also situated off the Grand Canal. The refinancing will be used to refurbish Hotel Danieli, which was previously managed by Marriott. Upon completion of the renovation, Four Seasons is expected to take over the property management.

If the walls of Hotel Bauer could talk, they would be praying for its new and well-capitalized owner to bring them back to life.

Julius Grünwald and his wife open Hotel Bauer

Grünwald’s heirs sell hotel to Arnaldo Bennati

Hotel closes for renovation

Elliott Management, with minority co-investor Blue Skye Investments, buys hotel from the Bortolotto Possati family

Signa Prime Selection buys hotel from Elliott Management

Signa goes into insolvency and planned renovation stops

King Street Capital Management buys hotel from Signa for undisclosed sum