Briefs: Ascott refreshes Citadines; GIC to acquire majority of Sani/Ikos

Ascott refreshes Citadines: The Ascott Ltd., a wholly owned unit of CapitaLand Investment Ltd., has launched the refresh of its aparthotel brand, Citadines, with 80 properties under development in 56 cities. As part of the refreshed brand, ‘active’ will be a key brand signature across all properties, with curated amenities and programs to start city living. All properties will also feature ‘For the Love of Coffee,’ a collaboration with local communities to deliver coffee-related experiences. Properties will also include convertible features which will allow transformation of rooms and spaces to suit daily work and lifestyle needs. Ascott also opened Citadines Raffles Place Singapore in the city’s financial district. The property comprises 299 units across eight floors, including studio, one- and two-bedroom units and loft apartments. Designed and curated by design firm, Takenouchi Webb, the property is among the first Ascott properties in Singapore to use service robot ARIA (Ascott Robotic Intelligent Assistant) to perform tasks. Citadines Raffles Place Singapore is among the six Citadines properties in Singapore, with another Citadines expected to open in the city by the year-end. Ascott acquired the Citadines chain in Europe in 2004 and has since tripled its portfolio with 104 operational properties, including the latest one in Singapore.

Sani Resort in Greece

GIC to acquire majority stake in Sani/Ikos: GIC, the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund, will acquire a majority stake in Sani/Ikos Group in a buyout valuing the Greece-based luxury resort operator at €2.3 billion (US$2.27 billion). The deal likely to close in 4Q22 is reportedly the biggest one in the European hotel industry since the outbreak of the pandemic. Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management unit, U.S.-based Oaktree Capital Management L.P. and London-based Hermes GPE will sell their stakes to GIC and exit the business. Sani/Ikos Group founders, Andreas Andreadis and Mathieu Guillemin will continue to manage the group as CEOs and co-managing partners, while co-founder Stavros Andreadis will become honorary chairman. Sani/Ikos Group owns and operates 10 beachfront resorts totaling 2,700 rooms across Greece and Spain. The group is moving forward with a five-year expansion plan worth €900 million (US$891.34 million), which will add four additional redeveloped resorts to its portfolio.

Hyatt, Kiraku form jv: Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Kiraku, Inc. have entered into a strategic joint venture which will launch a collection of modern-style hot spring ryokans (Japanese-style inn) in Japan under new brand ATONA. Hyatt and Kiraku will each own 50% of the joint venture and develop the new offering jointly. The brand will be managed independently by a team of hospitality experts. Japan-based designer Kenya Hara has joined as ATONA’s creative director. Current development plans will see the unveiling of the collection of ATONA-branded from 2025. Centered around the hot spring, the ryokans will feature a modernized style and will be set against landscapes, with each offering new experiences.

Jumeirah Group names interim CEO: Dubai-based Jumeirah Group has named Thomas Meier as the interim CEO. After spending five years with the group, Jose Silva announced his resignation from the group and from his position as CEO in an internal mail sent to employees. Meier, who was appointed as the company’s COO in 2021, has more than 20 years of luxury hospitality experience. Earlier, he was the SVP of operations in Asia for Minor Group and before that served as VP of hotel openings and integration for EMEA and APAC for Fairmont Raffles Hotels International.

Cheval Collection to Dubai: Cheval Collection, London, has signed a management agreement with Dubai-based Nakheel to debut its Cheval Maison brand in Dubai. The 131-unit Cheval Maison – The Palm Dubai will open in Q1 2023 and feature one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, including a three-bedroom penthouse. Cheval Collection will also open two properties in Glasgow — the newly launched MY Locanda in 2024 and a recently announced Cheval Maison in Glasgow in 2025. Cheval Collection, which has three brands, has reported a return to its pre-pandemic performance.

US performance improves: Hotel performance in the U.S. improved from the last week, showing increased comparisons with 2019, revealed STR’s latest data through September 17.

  • Occupancy: 69.6% (-2.4%)
  • ADR: US$155.58 (+15.6%)
  • RevPAR: US$108.25 (+12.9%)

Among the top 25 markets, Norfolk/Virginia Beach saw the highest occupancy increase over 2019 (+6.6% to 70.9%). Miami posted the largest ADR gain over 2019 (+30.7% to US$177.10). The steepest RevPAR declines were recorded in San Francisco (-23.1% to US$203.27) and Houston (-13% to US$63.58).

Hong Kong to scrap hotel quarantine: After over two years since it was implemented, Hong Kong said it will be scrapping its COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy for all arrivals from early October, as per local media reports. John Lee, the city’s leader, said he wanted to keep the city connected with the rest of the world and enable an “orderly opening up.” He, however, did not mention exactly when the policy would be scrapped. Currently, all arrivals are mandated to pay for three days in a hotel, following which they have to continue self-monitoring for four days. The new rules will end the need for overseas arrivals to quarantine at designated hotels. Residents can now straight go home and self-monitor for seven days.

Remington returns to San Antonio: Remington Hotels has assumed management of the 224-room Crowne Plaza San Antonio Airport in San Antonio, Texas, marking the company’s return to the San Antonio market. Currently, Remington has another property in development in San Antonio, which is slated to open in early 2024. The hospitality management group manages 116 hotels in 28 states and Washington D.C. across 23 brands.

JLL outlook: Global hotel investment is seeing an upward trend with around 80% of hotel investors planning to be net buyers this year, revealed JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group’s latest survey. Fundamentals continue to recover with 20% of investors planning to deploy between US$501 million to over US$1 billion worth of capital into the hospitality sector, rising from 7% of investors in 2021 and 16% in 2020. London, Tokyo and Boston led as the top three markets for hotel investment. In the next six months, 57% of investors expect the best investment opportunities to generate from more traditional hospitality property types, including full-service and select-service properties. About 82% of investors said they are targeting value-add investment opportunities and 34% said they are interested in vacant possession or unencumbered hotels. The Americas region benefited from strong demand and captured over 60% of the US$42 billion total global investment volume. Activity in EMEA and APAC stayed subdued, considering the prevailing COVID restrictions and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Bhutan reopens borders: Bhutan has reopened its borders to international travelers and has launched a new tourism strategy, underpinned by transformations in three areas — enhancements to its sustainable development policies, upgrades to infrastructure and elevated guest experience. Bhutan had announced it would increase its Sustainable Development Fee from US$65 to US$200 per person per night, which will fund projects uplifting the country’s social, economic, environmental and cultural development. Visitors can now also engage service providers directly or book flights, tours and hotels themselves. The revamp of the country’s tourism comes amid a “transformation project” in the country geared towards developing human capital by equipping the population with more knowledge, skills and experiences.

Mondrian debuts in Singapore: Mondrian, part of Ennismore, will make its debut in Singapore in Q1 2023 with Mondrian Singapore Duxton. The 302-key hotel located close to the city’s Central Business District will also house a rooftop pool and F&B outlets. The announcement of the Mondrian in Singapore follows the launch of Mondrian Seoul Itaewon in 2020, introducing the brand into Asia Pacific. The brand currently has a portfolio of seven hotels and plans to more than double its footprint by 2023, with future openings in Bordeaux, Cannes and Australia’s Gold Coast.

UK trade body welcomes measures on energy: UKHospitality, the trade body representing over 730 companies, has welcomed the government’s “unprecedented” measures on energy but called for a more comprehensive package to safeguard the hospitality sector. Calling the intervention “extremely appreciated” as the sector proceeds into an uncertain winter with “numerous challenges on many fronts,” UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said in a statement that the government has singled out the vulnerability that energy costs are inflicting on the sector. “Today’s announcement will give businesses some confidence to plan for immediate survival but we will not relent in our pursuit of a more comprehensive package to safeguard businesses and jobs. The levers of reduced VAT and business rates reliefs are still available to the government, and there must also be a comprehensive package to ensure that there is no cliff edge when these measures fall away,” Nicholls added.

Marriott expands Middle East footprint: Marriott International plans to grow its footprint in the Middle East with the addition of more than 20 properties and over 5,500 rooms across the Gulf countries in the next 15 months. The group’s growth in the region is mostly driven by the ongoing demand for its portfolio in Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E and Qatar, and improved appetite from developers for conversions and adaptive reuse properties. In Saudi Arabia, Marriott will grow its portfolio with six more luxury properties (mostly within the ambitious Red Sea Project and Diriyah Gate projects) by the end of 2023 and is responding to demand for select-service accommodation, with a new Four Points by Sheraton in Riyadh and Courtyard by Marriott in Jubail set to open in 2023. The company will grow its presence in Qatar with 10 additions, of which six will be unveiled ahead of the FIFA World Cup this year. This year, the company will cross a milestone of 50 properties in Dubai alone and open more properties in Kuwait and Oman. Currently, Marriott’s portfolio in the Middle East comprises more than 150 properties totaling 40,000 rooms across 21 brands in 11 countries and territories.   

Hines, Forbes Travel Guide align: Hines, the privately owned global real estate investment firm, has announced a partnership with Forbes Travel Guide to define 5-star hospitality standards at Hines buildings. Hines will be the first commercial real estate firm to partner with Forbes Travel Guide on a global scale. Both partners will co-develop custom service standards for the company’s 415 office and multi-family properties. The partnership will include a training program involving in-person training customized to the Hines portfolio as well as scalable online training. The new service standards will be implemented in 2023. Hines has a presence across 28 countries in 285 cities with a total of 114.2 million square feet of assets.

Americans’ intent to travel abroad: Despite surging costs and evolving world events, global travel is set to increase among affluent Americans in the next year, revealed a new study by MMGY Travel Intelligence presented in collaboration with the United States Tour Operators Association. As per the study, high-income outbound U.S. travelers plan to take an average 3.8 international vacations in the next 12 months, up 72% from 2.2 in 2019. The average outbound traveler expects to spend US$15,364 on international trips in the coming year, a rise of 16% compared to pre-pandemic spending predictions. Despite a high overall interest in foreign travel, the number of destinations that U.S. travelers want to visit has reduced compared to pre-pandemic figures, indicating that travelers have become more selective in their purchase decisions. Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and Canada emerged as the top four destinations cited by American travelers. There has been an overall rise in interest in visiting less-crowded destinations and those offering plenty of outdoor activities. American millennials plan to go on more international trips than boomers, although boomers plan to spend twice as much on each trip (US$7,725 vs US$3,654). Disruptions, like flight delays or cancelations, were the top concern for Americans traveling internationally.  
SoftBank to cut Oyo valuation?: SoftBank Group Corp. is reportedly considering reducing Indian hotel company Oyo’s valuation by about 20% to US$2.7 billion, as the startup prepares for an Initial Public Offering. SoftBank, the largest shareholder in the hotel booking company, is planning to cut its estimated value from an earlier US$3.4 billion after benchmarking it against peers with similar operations. The company, formally known as Oravel Stays Ltd., had reached a valuation of US$10 billion in a funding round in 2019. Oyo filed a fresh round of documents with India’s market regulator on Monday for a debut in the stock market.