Naumi to take its boutique concept to Auckland
03 DECEMBER 2014 8:32 AM
The boutique owner and operator will expand beyond Singapore for the first time, and the company looks to break into the MICE market, company executives said.
SINGAPORE—Naumi Hospitality is taking its boutique hotel concept beyond Singapore with the acquisition of the 193-room Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland Airport in New Zealand.
“We saw Auckland as a city with a lot of growth opportunities. It is the most-visited destination in New Zealand, capturing more than 70% of all visitors to the country,” Director Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala said.
The boutique owner and operator will assume management of the hotel, which will become the company’s first hotel with extensive meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions facilities, according to a news release. The hotel will be operated under the flagship Naumi brand and is slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Auckland’s Visitor Plan, which outlines strategies to drive the visitor economy from $4.8 billion in 2012 to $7.2 billion in 2021, played into the company’s decision to choose the gateway city as its destination for expanding the Naumi brand, Jhunjhnuwala said in an email.
Naumi, part of The Hind Group of Companies, first introduced itself to the boutique hotel scene in 2007 with the company’s flagship property—the 73-room Naumi Hotel in Singapore. When the hotel opened, it was one of the key pioneers in the boutique hotel industry in the city, VP Peter Wong said.
In 2012, the boutique owner and operator acquired and launched Naumi Liora, a “modern heritage chic brand,” Wong said. Naumi Hotel is positioned as a luxury upscale boutique whereas Naumi Liora is a midscale heritage boutique hotel, he added.
The addition of the Auckland property will bring Naumi’s portfolio to three, and company executives have plans to further expand offerings.
“Expansion is essential for Naumi Hospitality to maximize our investments and return on investment in 2015. We foresee a lot of opportunities to be captured in the year to follow—be it new customers, new value-adds or even new hotel products,” Wong said.
“Development is one of our priorities moving forward into 2015. Naumi Hospitality is primed for growth, and we are now actively searching for opportunities around the world as a hotel owner and operator. Hotel assets in gateway cities that present the potential to redevelop and reposition would best fit into the portfolio,” Wong continued.
With the Auckland acquisition, the company also hopes to break into the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions market, Jhunjhnuwala said. “Noting the demand from our current client mix for meeting space and unique venues such as Cloud 9, our rooftop infinity pool bar, we felt this property will provide us with the right ammunition to break into MICE markets.”
According to Naumi’s website, the company is looking to target assets with a minimum room count of 80 (or potential to create) and a maximum room count of 250. Following are some asset types the company would consider:
- City center locations are preferred;
- tired, distressed and underperforming hotels to be repositioned;
- commercial buildings that can be converted with a change of use; and
- serviced apartments to be reconfigured and repositioned.
The hospitality and service industry in Singapore is facing many labor challenges, including associated costs, Wong said.
“With labor policies tightening on hiring foreign workers, hotels are now looking at creative ways to redeploy staff to achieve maximum productivity and yet meeting guests’ expectation in terms of service offerings,” he said. “Cross-pollinating of job scopes is very common these days.”
Taking the labor and cost challenges into consideration, Naumi spends a great deal of time training its staff, Wong said, as they are key to the company’s success.
Each Naumi establishment is brought to life by “Naumi Aides” or “Liora Aides.” The role of these aides is to “always be on the cusp of the guest’s quirk,” Wong said. For example, the aides will greet guests by names, take note of how they like their coffee, or orchestrate a last-minute restaurant reservation or transportation.
Naumi serves to bridge the gap between residence and hotel, Wong said. The company does so by developing boutique hotels that are “uniquely differentiated in style, concept and personality.”
“We are constantly looking at our hotels’ positioning and value-adding for our guests to stay competitive, instead of just focusing on price points,” Wong said. He added that Singapore has become competitive, with four to five major hotels opening in the past year.
One way Naumi works to stay ahead is by keeping up with guest expectations. For example, Wong said room rates at the Naumi and Naumi Liora are inclusive of Wi-Fi and other add-ons such as all-day “nibble corners,” which are spaces in the lobbies that offer snacks 24/7 to guests.
Additionally, Naumi Hotel and Naumi Liora showcase architectural and design philosophies reflective of city hotels, executives said. Both hotels have won several design awards.