Simon Halabi and Mentmore Towers

The Times (‘Halabi may have to sell-up to pay loan‘ – 16 July 2009) is reporting that Simon Halabi, the multi-millionare businessman, may have to sell part of his London property portfolio to satisfy bond holders after the value of the properties dropped by nearly half, breaching the loan-to-value ratio of the bond secured against it.  In 1997, Halabi bought the Grade-I listed Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, formerly one of the Rothschild banking family’s most famous and impressive houses,  with the intention of converting it into a luxury hotel.  It’s not known how far work on that project has progressed but the grand chateau-style house, which also starred in the film ‘Batman Begins’ as Bruce Wayne’s house, is just too important to be forgotten so I hope that his other issues don’t impact on the work being undertaken as part of that project.

10 thoughts on “Simon Halabi and Mentmore Towers

  1. Is sweet August 10, 2009 / 09:22

    Unfortunately as the building is now on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register it seems likely that there are either maintenance issues or doubts about the future of the project to convert it into a “six star” hotel. Buildings of this type require constant maintenance and the flamboyant nature of the building means that is very expensive. In today’s economic climate there must remain severe concern about the economic future of properties such as this, especially as banks are going to be very reluctant to lend on such a project. One hears of companies downgrading on airlines and other expenditure and this must ultimately impact on the size and profitability of the very top of the hotel market too.

  2. countryhouses August 10, 2009 / 14:56

    Thanks for the update. This is exactly why it’s important that everyone keeps an eye on what happening to these beautiful buildings. It’s too easy for everyone to assume that a plan comes to fruition just because a press release has been issued annoucing grand plans. Perhaps the Rothschilds might like to take it on again?

  3. Is Sweet August 10, 2009 / 15:15

    Unfortunately it doesn’t stop with Mentmore Towers.

    The current owners bought it in the late 90s and after using four firms of architects (at least two of which regretted the experience) and numerous other consultants it’s not at all clear that the building will actually ever be convented and extended into a “six star” hotel. The costs of development are likely to very high indeed and may well exceed final likely value as there is a limit to demand and earnings from such a facility. Through a web of companies the current owners also own the former In and Out Club in London which I believe is also on the Register of Buildings at Risk. When the music stops who will own these buildings? If it’s to be some bank they will get rid of them as soon as possible and the process starts again? Some buildings like this become liabilities not assets although it’s a shame.

    At least the Maharishi’s lot looked after it to the best of their ability. The Rothschilds got rid of it through marriage and the 1970s vendors were I am sure delighted to see it off their books. About 8 years ago the roof, upper stonework and chimneys at Mentmore needed urgent attention, and it would be interesting to know what substantive maintenance has been done since then.

  4. robert battams September 23, 2009 / 23:14

    the onley repairs done was front main entrance the place is falling apart and the price to get it bk to shape wid hotel over 200 million

  5. Is Sweet September 24, 2009 / 09:17

    Since my last post the company “organising” (sic) the conversion has been placed in the hands of administrators. The White Tower vehicle associated with the same group is in serious financial problems and HMRC have initiated proceedings. You can find details in Property Week, the FT etc. Various banks, including the now state owned Bradford and Bingley, Societe Generale, Caisse Quebec etc are all looking to have lost many millions.
    I wonder what’s happened to the yacht, the expensive cars with personalised number plates etc, let alone suppliers and others who will have been left short.
    The ownership of Mentmore Towers is probably overseas through a maze of offshore companies, trusts etc and it’s not at all clear who is in control.
    It’s depressing to hear that no maintenance has been done at Mentmore recently. The roof was leaking badly seven years ago when I last saw it. Problems on this sort of building accelerate and quickly get out of control.
    English Heritage should be taking some action to ensure that essential maintenance is done.
    Paxton must be rolling in his grave.

  6. Is sweet September 28, 2009 / 16:59

    I forgot to mention that the other buildings on the EH AT Risk register and in the same hands or group are/were 21 Charles Street London W1 and the In and Out Club Piccadilly London W1

  7. Is Sweet October 12, 2009 / 14:41

    Although Mentmore isn’t affected Westminster City Council is now (October 09)threatening to take control of some listed buildings under control of the same group owning Mentmore Towers, one of the reasons being lack of care of the listed buildings involved. Will Aylesbury Vale take up Westminster’s lead? I don’t think that the local tax payers will like that idea much. The PM Club website still seems to infer that Mentmore is a live project. Question is when?

    • countryhouses October 14, 2009 / 00:48

      Thanks for all the information. I’m trying to find out some details and will post an update if possible. From my conversations it does seem that there are many others interested and concerned about Mentmore and are aware of the ‘In and Out’ Club as well.

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