News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Boonsong Kositchotethana, Bangkok Post, Thailand
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 27, 2003 - Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is preparing to add two new resorts in Samui and Chiang Rai to its growing management portfolio in Thailand as well as Asia.
In doing so, the Toronto company is joining major international chains that are stepping up their presences in Thailand's reviving hospitality industry on the rebound in the economy and tourism.
Several multinational chains including Hilton, Kempinski and Accor are flocking into Thailand to seek contracts to manage large new five-star hotel projects, particularly in Bangkok, Phuket and Samui, which are forthcoming in the next few years.
The two properties, now in the development stage, belong to the local Minor Group conglomerate. Minor's chief executive, Bill Heinecke, has firmly indicated his intention to have Four Seasons run those five-star resorts, though no deal has been signed yet.
Minor is the largest shareholder of Rajdamri Hotel Plc, which owns The Regent Bangkok and the Regent Chiang Mai Resort and Spa, which have been managed by the Four Seasons.
Wolf Hengst, president for worldwide hotel operations of Four Seasons, yesterday confirmed the move to run Minor's new Samui and Chiang Rai properties at the official rebranding of the two existing Regent properties as the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok and Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.
The new Four Seasons resort in Samui would comprise 70 rooms while the Chiang Rai one, to be located in the Golden Triangle area, would consist of 25 exotic tent-style villas, according to Mr Hengst.
The Samui site is likely to be next Four Seasons to come onstream, he said, adding that Four Seasons was also looking for management opportunities in other Thai locations, notably in Phuket.
Phuket was described as one of the region's "hot spots" for new hotel investment by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, the world's leading hotel investment services group.
"Asia will be a big growth area for us and Four Seasons will be more aggressive in expanding its presence in the region," Mr Hengst said.
Four Seasons continues to expand globally, with more than 20 projects under construction or development in choice locations. Currently, it manages 60 properties in 27 countries.
The German-born executive noted the new hotels coming online in Bangkok would further fuel already intense competition characterised by a large supply of rooms over demand and price cutting.
"In fact, they should stop building new hotels for a while," he said.
However, Four Seasons is not looking at running another hotel in the capital as it goes against an agreement with Rajdamri Hotel Plc.
"So we have to look at some other locations away from Bangkok," he said, half jokingly.
But by rebranding its two Regent hotels as Four Seasons, which is better known globally with a more upmarket image, the two Thai properties should given a boost in terms of recognition and tariff.
The Bangkok and Chiang Mai hotels are among the last properties in the Four Seasons group to relinquish the Regent name.
Four Seasons has sold the rights to the Regent name to Carlson Wagonlit, a multinational business travel management and hospitality concern.
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(c) 2003, Bangkok Post, Thailand. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. FS, JLL,
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