|By Nondhanada Intarakomalyasut, Bangkok Post, Thailand|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 5, 2004 - Banyan Tree Hotels and Resort Pte, the Singapore-based hotel management and investment group, is moving to expand to the Western market with at least nine properties to be opened over the next two years.
Bernold Schroeder, the company's vice-president for operations, said yesterday in Bangkok that the group was ready to tap business opportunities in Western countries as most of its guests were from Europe and North America.
He said that the company, owned by Singaporean businessman Ho Kwong Ping, had been looking to expand aggressively since 1997. But growth had been held up by the Asian economic crisis, the royal massacre in Nepal, the Sars outbreak, the war in Iraq and the Bali bombing.
The company is now confident that it could go ahead with a plan that includes developing two hotels in Dubai, one in Greece, one in Morocco, two in Mexico and two in China.
The size of each of the new properties will be between 50 and 100 villas with an average room rate of 20,000-40,000 baht per night.
Mr Schroeder did not disclose the investment costs of the new projects, saying only that some would be wholly owned by its parent company, Banyan Tree Holding, and the others would be in the form of a joint venture with partners.
Also in the pipeline for the company is a new property in Chiang Mai, expected to open within three years, a hotel in Bangkok and one in Phuket.
The company already owns land in Chiang Mai, and is looking at Koh Samui as its next potential market in Thailand.
Outside of the region, the company is looking at developing properties in the Caribbean and Croatia.
"Unlike our competitors which mostly go to very well known and established destinations, Banyan Tree has a strategy to help create new destinations like we did in the Seychelles and Maldives where our resorts were among the first luxury accommodations to open at these spots," Mr Schroeder said.
Besides its premium Banyan Tree brand, Banyan Tree Holdings also operates other chains including Angsana and Colour of Angsana.
The Angsana chain has four properties in Bangalore, the Maldives, Australia and Indonesia. The Colour of Angsana chain, which has hotels in Sri Lanka and China and one being developed in Luang Prabang, focuses exclusively on world heritage locations.
Banyan Tree now has five properties, in Bangkok, Phuket, the Seychelles, Maldives and Bintan.
Mr Schroeder said the Banyan Tree Bangkok hotel was now aiming to attract more business travellers and had been recently accepted as a member of Leading Hotels, a hotel reservation system which has 200 members and a strong commercial approach in the North American market.
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