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Singapore-based City Developments and US-based Westbrook Partners
 Nearing Completion of 543-room Millennium Hilton Bangkok
By Sujintana Hemtasilpa, Bangkok Post, Thailand
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Aug. 24, 2005 - The Millennium Hilton Bangkok, until now a riverside monument to the 1997 economic crisis, is planning a five-star opening in mid-December to get a long-delayed, early start on what looks to be a competitive high season.

The hotel is the first of a clutch of luxury hotels that have announced they will open in coming months. Most will be in the Sukhumvit area.

The Millennium Hilton on the Thon Buri shore of the Chao Phraya River, has been rebuilt after being virtually abandoned in the post-1997 gloom. Intended originally to become a five-star hotel managed by Sofitel, the partly constructed property was taken over by the state-owned Thai Asset Management Corp.

M.R. Chatumongkol Sonakul, the chairman of the hotel owner, Krungthep Rimnam Ltd, said he believed the hotel would prove a strong success, given that demand for riverside luxury accommodations remained strong.

Krungthep Rimnam Ltd is a joint venture between Singapore-based City Developments and US-based Westbrook Partners. The joint venture bid for the property from the TAMC for 960 million four years ago, and has spent more than 1.4 billion baht to renovate the 32-storey building into a premium, 543-room hotel.

Frederic Lucron, the hotel's general manager, said its two main markets are to be leisure and Mice travellers.

It will be a property with the second biggest facilities for Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) along the Chao Phraya, after the Shangri-La.

However, Mr Lucron still expects 50 percent of the hotel guests to be leisure travellers, 20 percent Mice travellers, 20 percent travellers who make bookings through Hilton's worldwide reservation system, and 10 percent guests from other channels. He expects the hotel's business to be fully robust by the end of next year.

Nevertheless, M.R. Chatumongkol said the investors of Krungthep Rimnam would later on sell the hotel to another investor, which is a natural practice of such a capital venture. The group has spent four years investing and developing the project, estimated to be worth about three billion baht now.

It would certainly seek interested parties to buy the property, but not in the near future, before the hotel is fully operational.

Krungthep Rimnam yesterday signed a contract with Haco Group to supply 20 million baht worth of Grohe bath fixtures for the hotel.


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Copyright (c) 2005, Bangkok Post, Thailand

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