Each week, HotelNewsNow.com provides a news roundup from a different world region. Today’s roundup focuses on the Asia/Pacific region.
Hotel supply outlook
The Asia/Pacific hotel development pipeline comprises 1,536 hotels totaling 364,595 rooms, according to the February 2012 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report.
Among the region’s markets, Shanghai ended the month with the most rooms under construction with 10,582. Four other markets reported more than 3,000 rooms under construction: Beijing (4,962 rooms); New Delhi (4,930 rooms); Bali, Indonesia (4,463 rooms); and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (3,402 rooms).
RevPAR gains forecast for top Asian markets
The outlook for some of the Asian hotel industry’s biggest markets is largely positive for 2012, according to new forecasts from STR Global, sister company of HotelNewsNow.com.
Singapore is forecast to experience an increase in revenue per available room of between 6% and 8%, followed by Beijing (5% to 7%), Sydney (3% to 5%) and Hong Kong (2% to 4%). Supply is expected to grow between 1.1% and 2.5% across the four cities, with demand predicted to increase between 1.7% and 3.8%.
For the 12 months through January 2012, Hong Kong reached occupancy of 84.5%, followed by Singapore (84.1%), Sydney (82.1%) and Beijing (67.9%), where 12-month average occupancy levels were similar to the levels recorded during the pre-Olympics period in March 2008 (67.9%).
IHG launches new brand, Hualuxe, in China
InterContinental Hotels Group launched an upscale hotel brand designed specifically for the Chinese traveler.
Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts will launch initially in Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities and resort locations in China. In time, the hotel will open in major cities across the world so Chinese travelers can have the same experience abroad. With a multimillion dollar investment behind brand development, Hualuxe will follow IHG’s managed operating model, similar to its other IHG brands operating in China, and will be supported with brand development and marketing funds in the first few years.
“Building on our proven ability to build, develop and nurture brands, we are very proud to be launching Hualuxe Hotels and –Resorts—a genuine first for the industry and a unique brand developed by our Chinese team that we know will resonate with the very important, fast-growing, Chinese consumer base. Hualuxe takes the best aspects of renowned Chinese hospitality and applies IHG’s international scale, powerful systems and unparalleled insights into the Chinese market to deliver a traditional high-end consistent experience,” said Richard Solomons, CEO of IHG, in a statement.
Online travel has potential to grow in parts of Asia/Pacific
Although growth in the online hotel bookings is expected to slow down in the Asia/Pacific region between 2010 and 2012, yStats.com is still projecting double-digit increases in its “Global Online Travel Report 2012.”
In Japan the share of online travel bookings surpassed 50% for the first time in 2010. Unique visitor numbers for travel websites were evenly distributed across all age groups in Japan, while the group of individuals older than 55 was slightly in the lead in the first quarter of 2011. In China during 2011, only 14% of all Internet users had ever visited a travel website, but online travel bookings are expected to become more popular there as well. The Indian online travel market also is estimated to grow by almost 30% in 2012. In Australia, the category "Travel, Accommodation, Memberships or Tickets of any Kind" was the most popular online product category in June 2011.
Sheraton picks up momentum in Asia
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced Sheraton Hotels will be a key force in the company’s growth in 2012 with the opening of 20 new hotels.
Sheraton is slated to open 12 new hotels across China in 2012, reaching a total of nearly 80 hotels there by 2015. Nearly 40% of all future Starwood hotels opening in China will fly the Sheraton flag, building on the brand’s 30-year legacy in this fast-growing market. The Sheraton brand’s rapid growth also is moving Starwood closer to its goal of opening its 100th hotel in China later this year.
Sheraton will expand its global resorts portfolio in 2012 with the opening of eight new resorts in locations including Bali, Indonesia. The development boom in China has fueled a surge of new Sheraton resort openings throughout China in locations such as Huzhou, Changbaishan and Xiangshan. Sheraton also will open a new flagship resort in Bali, Indonesia, and its second resort in Huizhou.
Asian real-estate investors warn global brands
Representatives from two of Asia’s largest real-estate developers provided a wake-up call to some of the West’s biggest hotel brand companies during a general session at the International Hotel Investment Forum, reported HotelNewsNow.com’s Patrick Mayock.
The era of Asian investors importing outside brands into the region is drawing to an end, they said, as is the ubiquitous asset-light operating model.
On the first point, Ong Chih Ching, CEO of KOP Group, said Asian markets including Singapore and Hong Kong are growing in sophistication and are becoming less reliant on established hotel brands to spur development. The concept of brands is still important, she said, but the market is shifting its focus to more homegrown entities.
Many Asian investors also question the motivation behind some U.S. and U.K.-based chains’ push in the region, added Ricco DeBlank, CEO of SHKP Hotels, a division of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited. Much expansion exists solely to meet the expectations of Wall Street, he said, and the major chains risk diluting brand equity and hotel performance in the process.
Key openings, transactions
• Interstate Hotels & Resorts announced Interstate China signed an agreement to manage the 850-room DoubleTree by Hilton Shanghai-Pudong, the first Hilton Worldwide-franchised hotel in China.
• Interstate China executed an agreement to manage the 514-room Shanghai JC Mandarin Hotel, which is owned by Shanghai Jin Cang Mandarin Hotel Limited.
• Hyatt Hotels announced a Hyatt affiliate entered into a management agreement for the Park Hyatt Busan in South Korea with Hyundai Development Company. The 268-room property is slated to open in 2013.
• Wyndham Hotel Group announced the signing of an agreement to manage the 565-room Wyndham Grand Xi’an South in China’s Shaanxi province. The property is scheduled to open in December 2014.
• Diaoyutai MGM Hospitality, a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, signed a joint-venture deal with Suning Real Estate Group for the development of the 200-room Suning Bellagio Shanghai Bund. The development is expected to be completed in 2015.
• Hyatt Hotels announced a Hyatt affiliate signed a management agreement with Central Embassy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Central Group of Companies, for the Park Hyatt Bangkok. The 222-room property is scheduled to open in 2014.
• Accor introduced Sofitel Luxury Hotels in India with the opening of the 302-room Sofitel Mumbai in India.
• Hilton Hotels & Resorts announced the opening of the 370-room Hilton Dalian in China.
• Alila Hotels & Resorts began development of two properties in Indonesia: The 52-room Alila Villas Bintan and the 72-suite Alila Seminyak are scheduled to open in 2014.
Compiled by Stephanie Wharton.