. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rocco Forte Moves Into the Capital

British hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, who runs St. Petersburg's Angleterre and Astoria hotels, opened an office in Moscow on Tuesday to market his European chain of nine luxury hotels and vowed to open a hotel in the capital.

"We have hotels in Rome, Florence, St. Petersburg, Brussels, Edinburgh, Manchester and Cardiff, and just three days ago I bought Brown's hotel in London," he said.

All but the Angleterre are members of the Leading Hotels of the World marketing group, which includes Moscow's Baltschug Kempinski and Le Meridien National.

"We plan hotels in Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Berlin and Moscow," he said.

Asked about a specific site in Moscow, Forte said he could make no comment because he did not have any, but after acquiring nine hotels in the last six years he is determined to raise the total to 20 within the next five years.

Market insiders say a hotel planned at 5 Red Square would match the other properties in Forte's group. The state of that property is on hold while the Defense Ministry, which occupies the building, negotiates with the Kremlin property department over conditions under which it will leave.

A Spanish company, Segura Consulting Associated, announced in March that it will convert the building into a retail, office and hotel complex.

However, Forte said the Moscow office would seek clients for his St. Petersburg hotels and lure Russian tourists to his hotels abroad.

"The Russian customers have become one of the most important customers in the luxury hotel world," he said. "In Rome last year, 6 percent of our business was Russian customers and we are hoping to increase that. They are the best customers because they like spending money. They always want the best suite and they never ask for a discount."

According to the World Tourism Organization, Russians rose from being the world's 13th biggest spenders on international tourism in 1999 to the 11th biggest in 2001, the latest year for which figures are available. That year they spent $10.4 billion abroad, the organization said.