Briefs: Kimpton’s service for new parents; Whitbread acquires in London

Kimpton’s service for new parents: As a response to the challenges faced by new parents traveling with breast milk, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is launching the Kimpton On Demand Family Fridge Program to provide ‘Mini Me Milk Fridges’ upon request. Unlike the traditional mini-fridge provided in rooms with limited temperature capabilities, these fridges allow parents to preserve milk at the CDC-mandated temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Each property will also have a dedicated fridge for employees who may need to pump and store the milk during their work hours.

Interior at a hub by Premier Inn

Whitbread acquires freehold property in London: Whitbread, Dunstable, U.K., has acquired a prime freehold property on the Strand in London. Subject to planning, 5 Strand is set to become the latest hub by Premier Inn hotel and is scheduled to open in 2027. The acquisition and development are being financed from the company’s cash resources and will feature one of the company’s Bar+Block steakhouse restaurants. With investment totaling more than £200 million (US$235.87 million), which includes construction and related expenses, this development builds on Whitbread’s investments in London, where a major chunk of the group’s pipeline is located.

JLL’s construction outlook: Inflation, supply chain disruptions, a new variant of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict met with a real YOY rise in the value of construction in the first half of the year, revealed the H2 2022 Construction Outlookby JLL. While residential construction dipped from its historical peak in 2021, it continues to grow, with non-residential construction returning to nominal growth. Total construction spending dipped around 1.1% on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis in June and the trajectories of individual sectors have rapidly shifted in a mixed pattern. Availability of labor was also a structural challenge for the industry and is likely to be a bigger concern as construction demand continues and shifts focus. Sustained volatility in materials availability is expected to generate similar growth rates as in 2021, albeit due to a different set of contributing components. Steel and lumber, which saw dramatic price hikes in 2021, have been stabilizing. Domestic production of construction steel also witnessed significant price hikes and is now around 30% higher than its pre-COVID levels. Fuels, plastics and services related to construction zone caused price increases in the first half of the year and are not expected to stabilize in the second half of the year.

Indian hospitality trend report: Domestic tourism in India has led the revival of the country’s tourism industry, with travelers exploring lesser-known destinations and helping the industry to surpass the 50% mark with regards to nationwide occupancy in 2021-22, revealed a report on Indian trends and opportunities by Hotelivate. The national average room rate was shy of INR 5,000 (US$62.59). Despite the room rates recovering at a slow pace, it is a promising sign for the sector. The organized supply saw a RevPAR growth of 55% (on an eroded base) in 2021-22. The hospitality industry in India achieved another milestone as the branded hotel room supply crossed the 150,000-mark this year. While supply did not outperform demand in the majority of the last two financial years, they ended with a steady rise in demand. Although the sector’s performance in the first quarter of 2022-23 has broken a few records, hotels have been faced with challenges — increased operational costs due to inflationary pressures, labor crunch, supply chain disruptions and surging exchange rate — which will have to overcome to sustain long-term growth.

Japan to drop pre-arrival COVID testing: Japan will drop its pre-departure COVID tests for fully vaccinated travelers entering the country from September 7, bringing its border control policy closer to many other countries. However, the daily caps on entry will stay in place. As per local media reports, Japan is likely to increase the daily cap from 20,000 to 50,000 but the government has yet to reach a decision. So far, Japan has mandated travelers to show proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure. In June, Japan reopened its borders for tourists for the first time in two years, but incoming visitor numbers have remained small due to requirements that travelers apply for visas and stick to guided, package tours.

Top-tier chain scales lead Middle East construction pipeline: With upper upscale projects touching a record high of 121 projects/31,950 rooms at the end of the second quarter in the Middle East, 72% of the projects were in the top three chain scales (luxury, upper upscale and upscale), according to Lodging Econometrics. The total pipeline at the end of Q2 2022 in the Middle East stood at 545 projects/140,055 rooms, up 3% by projects YOY.

Top 5 Middle Eastern countries leading construction pipeline:
Saudi Arabia – 212 projects/60,045 rooms
U.A.E. – 119 projects/33,121 rooms
Egypt – 74 projects/16,569 rooms
Qatar – 66 projects/15,168 rooms
Oman – 29 projects/6,414 rooms

Top 5 Middle Eastern regions and cities leading construction pipeline:
Provincial region, Saudi Arabia – 73 projects/15,031 rooms
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – 62 projects/12,580 rooms
Doha, Qatar – 54 projects/12,847 rooms
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – 43 projects/8,986 rooms
Makkah, Saudi Arabia – 34 projects/23,448 rooms

Top 4 franchise companies leading Middle Eastern construction pipeline:
Hilton – 98 projects
Accor – 83 projects/20,248 rooms
Marriott International – 77 projects/21,933 rooms
InterContinental Hotels Group – 53 projects/12,644 rooms