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As Foreign Investors Show Interest in Thailand's Improving Hospitality
Climate, Major Hotel Operators Put Properties on the Market

By Suchat Sritama, The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sept. 08, 2011--BANGKOK -- Major hotel operators in key tourist destinations in Thailand are putting their properties on the market, as foreign investors are poised to strike on continuing improvement in the hospitality climate.

"Investors are interested in Thailand after seeing the growth in international arrivals," Mike Batchelor, managing director of investment sales at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, said Wednesday.

Several properties in Thailand are listed for sale by the global real-estate firm, namely the Swiss Park Bangkok, Evason Phuket & Bon Island, Six Senses & Evason Hua Hin, Centara at Karon and Kata in Phuket, a boutique resort on Koh Samui and a luxury serviced-apartment complex in Bangkok.

Hotel transactions reached 5.5 billion baht (US$183 million) last year and 3.5 billion baht (US$117 million) to date this year, compared with the peak in 2006 of 15.9 billion baht (US$529 million).

More transactions are expected this year, perhaps surpassing last year's figure, and will continue into next year.

Phuket was the hot spot last year, but now Bangkok is leading the market.

Investors see potential in all key tourist destinations -- Bangkok and elsewhere in the Central region, Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Hua Hin.

"They are looking at existing hotels, at all star categories and yields and value-added properties," Batchelor said.

This year, Bangkok and Phuket have attracted strong interest, with 2 billion baht (US$67 million) and 1.5 billion baht (US$50 million) in transactions respectively.

Seller profiles to date have been limited to institutional investors and corporations, except for the Ban Taling Ngam Koh Samui case.

More movements are flowing into wider ranges, from private and public companies and property funds to wealthy individuals.

Jones Lang LaSalle helped sell the Sofitel Silom and Laguna Beach Resort this year to foreign investors.

"The political stability in Thailand has sparked offshore interest. The peacefulness should bolster confidence in the Thai hospitality industry and tourism," Batchelor said.

International arrivals will continue to increase, he said. China has now replaced Japan as the biggest source, while European markets are no longer in the top five.

The first seven months saw 11.2 million visitors and the target of 17 million for this year is within reach.

Despite the bright future, hotels in Bangkok still face difficulties because of the glut in rooms. About 12,000 more guest rooms will be supplied by 2014, Batchelor said.


(c)2011 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany)

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