|By Sujintana Hemtasilpa, Bangkok Post, Thailand|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 20, 2005 - Minor International Plc, the country's largest hospitality and food service operator, is embarking on a US$21-million (840 million baht) project to open three hotels on three islands of the Maldives with a Maldivian partner.
The three hotels, with a total of 190 rooms, have been built on the islands of Dhigufinolhu, Bodu Huraa and Veligandu Huraa in the Indian Ocean.
The 50-room, four-star hotel on Bodu Huraa is scheduled to open in the last quarter of this year. The other two will open next year, said Pratana Manomaiphiboon, chief financial officer of the Minor Group of Companies.
This year, the SET-listed company will open two new hotel properties, said Ms Pratana. Besides the property on Bodu island, the other new hotel will be the 200-million-baht, 15-tent Four Seasons Elephant Camp in Chiang Rai's Golden Triangle area.
Next year, the company will launch three new properties, the two in the Maldives and the 1.1- billion-baht, 70-room Four Seasons resort in Koh Samui, Ms Pratana said.
Ms Pratana said the company's 50:50 joint-venture partner in the Maldives was the same one with which it had invested in the Anantara Royal Coco Palm Khao Lak resort, which was destroyed during the tsunami.
For this reason, they again decided to invest together in the tsunami-affected Maldives, Ms Pratana said.
She said she had calculated that the high profit potential of the properties on the popular islands was worth the risk. "The IRR [internal rate of return] is higher than 30 percent."
She explained that the high yield was possible due to business conditions in the Maldives including the fact that hoteliers there could charge higher rates for rooms than in Thailand, while at the same time enjoy cheaper labour costs.
For the first quarter of this year, Minor International reported a net profit of 300 million baht, up 88 percent from the same period last year, on revenue of 2.636 billion baht. The hotel business contributed 60 percent of the profit, food services 28 percent, retail property and entertainment 9 percent and spas 3 percent.
Ms Pratana said she expected the company's total revenue this year would reach 11 billion baht, up 33.54 percent from 2004.
Ms Pratana said the Minor Group was more fortunate than other hotel chains due to the fact that it now runs only one hotel in the tsunami-hit provinces.
Minor Group shares closed yesterday at 3.86 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 2.02 million baht.
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