The space between economy and luxury is hotting up as a string of new mid/upscale hotel brands hits the region and jostles to be the most relevant to value-minded Asians. By Raini Hamdi
Brand name ATRIA HOTEL & CONFERENCE
By Parador Hotels & Resorts, Indonesia
Positioning Four star
Competitive set Other four star brands with MICE facilities, such as Mercure, Santika Premier, Novotel, Aston and Harris Hotels
Rate Atria Hotel & Conference Gading Serpong, Tangerang (off Jakarta) from US$100
Why it is needed According to the Central Statistics Agency, Indonesians undertook about 236 million domestic trips in 2011 and this number will continue to rise with the promising middle class market. The increasing number of budget airlines will certainly increase the number of domestic travellers in the country. Therefore, our future development focus will be on midscale brands such as Atria or our three-star Ara Hotels.
How it reinvents mid/upscale A conference hotel focusing on MICE. We accommodate individual business traveller needs by providing value such as free WiFi connection of up to 10 Mbps.
We aim to become a leading conference hotel in the region, and have dedicated staff to achieve this with a ‘warmth & comfort’ service philosophy.
How many in operation Four in Tangerang (off Jakarta), Magelang (Central Java) and Malang (East Java)
Expansion plans Five more hotels to open in stages up to 2019
Parador Hotels & Resorts, Indonesia
Brand name AVANI HOTELS & RESORTS
By Minor Hotel Group, Thailand
Positioning 4.5 star
Competitive set Includes Aloft, Angsana, Pullman, Andaz and Hotel Indigo
Rate Lead in price in Sri Lanka tends to be about US$150++ and Vietnam US$100++
Why it is needed Launched in 2011 to complement the five-star Anantara brand. Avani offers relaxed comfort and contemporary style in city and resort locations to guests who value details that matter.
How it reinvents mid/upscale The name stems from the Sanskrit word, ‘earth’, which Avani expresses through a grounded personality and simple sense of style. Each resort exhibits a passion for design, an emphasis on tailoring details to deliver complete satisfaction, and service that is genuine and spontaneous.
How many in operation Three resorts, two in Sri Lanka and one in Vietnam
Expansion plans 2014 will see new additions to the brand in Malaysia (Sepang), Vietnam (Hai Phong), Thailand (rebranding of Amari Atrium Bangkok) and Seychelles Barbarons.
In the pipeline are Avani properties in Bali, Ambalangoda (Sri Lanka) and a second property in Bangkok. We expect to shortly make an announcement on developments on the African continent.
We plan to grow the brand across Asia, Africa and the Indian Ocean and in the Middle East.
Minor Hotel Group, Thailand
Brand name BEST WESTERN PLUS
By Best Western International, US
Positioning Four star
Competitive set Novotel
Rate On average US$90
Why it is needed Best Western has traditionally offered customers hotels based on the core values of comfort, value for money and excellent service. But as we expand into new markets, especially in Asia and the Middle East, there is a need to cater for customers who want these qualities, but also that little extra. Best Western Plus offers more upscale amenities and facilities such as a fitness centre, business centre, spacious in-room work areas and a range of products tailored to the needs of each market.
How it reinvents mid/upscale Many international hotel companies operating today start in the upscale sector, then try to expand into other segments. Best Western, on the other hand, has a proud 66-year history in the midscale segment and understands the needs of the everyday hotel customer.
How many in operation 11 in Asia and the Middle East, with just over 1,200 rooms. Thailand and India are our biggest markets for the brand (three hotels each); two in the Philippines and two in Saudi Arabia.
Expansion plans 10 more are set to open in Asia and the Middle East, adding a further 1,700 rooms. Indonesia and Malaysia will see three new Best Western Plus hotels. Firm plans for two hotels in Bangladesh.
Glenn de Souza
Best Western International’s vice president,
International Operations Asia & Middle East,
Brand name COUNTRY COMFORT
By SilverNeedle Hospitality, Singapore
Positioning 3.5 star
Competitive set Best Western Plus, Country Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Inn, Travelodge (Australia), Wyndham Garden Hotel
Rate A$100 (US$89) to A$150 in Australia and New Zealand under the existing brand
Why it is needed Country Comfort, a well-known brand in Australia and New Zealand, was recently rebranded and updated with a fresh identity and look. The 28-year-old brand will spearhead new franchising business in its existing ANZ markets and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The target market comprises travelling sales people, small business owners and mid-level managers that spend more than half their time on business on a limited per diem budget. The refreshed brand promises convenience, quality and value.
How it reinvents mid/upscale By delivering what road warriors need the most and removing what they don’t, so they avoid unnecessary expenses. Guests will still enjoy an excellent stay, including the best-in-category sleep experience with superior amenities including a high-quality bed, an invigorating shower experience and a nutritious breakfast. Apart from competitive rates, a Fair Value Promise includes free Wi-Fi, local calls and mini-bar items priced 30 per cent above local convenience stores. Laundry and dry cleaning will also be just 20 per cent above street pricing.
How many in operation None under the refreshed Country Comfort brand; 23 under the existing brand
Expansion plans Aggressive expansion planned for the next five years. Actively pursuing opportunities to manage, lease or franchise Country Comfort in South-east Asia, North Asia, South Asia and Australia/New Zealand.
Brand name NEXT HOTELS
By SilverNeedle Hospitality, Singapore
Positioning 4.5 star
Competitive set Aloft, Crowne Plaza, East, Pan Pacific, Radisson Blu, Traders
Rate From A$230 (US$205) at Next Hotel Brisbane
Why it is needed Next Hotels is a game-changing concept created specifically for the modern business traveller. Guests demand full control over their time, particularly when they are travelling in unfamiliar cities, often on a budget and busy schedules. At Next Hotels, that control rests with guests as cutting-edge technology puts them in charge of everything they do, from reservations to check out. Using the Next Hotels mobile app, guests can check in before arriving through an encrypted code and access their rooms, bypassing the reception desk.
How it reinvents mid/upscale By committing fully to the core concept of having services work according to the guests’ wants, needs and more importantly, schedule. Along with the technology aforementioned, Next Hotels will also feature smart spaces and intuitive service. The Club Lounge, another innovation, is an exclusive space designed to work around each guest’s schedule. It features the ‘in transit zone’ comprising full shower facilities, luggage storage lockers and recliners. Guests can relax during early check in, use free Wi-Fi, or freshen up for late flights after check-out without disrupting their plans.
How many in operation The first Next will open in Brisbane in mid-2014
Expansion plans The second will be in Colombo in a mixed-use lifestyle centre that includes a lifestyle mall and high-rise residential tower.
MD/group CEO, SilverNeedle
Brand name DORSETT; SILKA HOTELS
By Dorsett Hospitality International, Hong Kong
Positioning Dorsett (four star); Silka Hotels (three star)
Competitive set Dorsett: Novotel, Traders; Silka: Ibis
Rate Dorsett’s ADR Jan-Nov 2013: HK$900 (US$116); Silka HK$600
Why it is needed The market is dominated by international hotel chains from outside Asia and this is where we make a difference. Being a true Asian-based company, we have a better understanding of the needs of our Asian travellers, in particular, with regards to hospitality and service.
How it reinvents mid/upscale Dorsett are contemporary midscale hotels in carefully chosen urban locations, providing business and leisure travellers with instant, easy access to city centres and business centres. Anchored in Asian traditions of hospitality with flashes of eclectic British touches, these hotels are energetic, innovative, dynamic destinations designed to create a more energised business and leisure travel experience.
Silka Hotels Designed with the value-savvy and smart traveller in mind, Silka Hotels offer the best in convenience and comfort, providing hassle-free hospitality essentials.
Quick, easy and efficient, Silka targets customers who are looking for the basics done right, with great service and value.
How many in operation Seven Dorsett hotels (two in China, three Hong Kong and one each in Singapore and Malaysia)
Five Silka Hotels (three in Hong Kong and two in Malaysia)
Expansion plans Eight Dorsett and one Silka are in the pipeline. The group has a strong appetite to grow all its brands, which also include Dorsett Grand and a boutique brand d.Collection, in South-east Asia, with an eye on Australia, more in the UK and Continental Europe.
Senior vice president sales & marketing,
Dorsett Hospitality International, Hong Kong
Brand name EATON
By Langham Hospitality Group, Hong Kong
Positioning 4.5 star
Competitive set Our aspirational competitive set (based on design) includes Ace Hotel, Nolitan, Casa Camper and Mama Shelter. Actual depends on location
Rate From US$150
Why it is needed Eaton hotels are for the cosmopolitan, adventurous, culturally savvy traveller interested in a lifestyle, fun and affordable stay. This brand bridges the gap between a four-star and five-star.
We understand that different travellers have different needs. So we came up with options like the Smart Room and Family Room, in addition to conventional rooms and suites, all within a reasonable price range and done with great style and design, together with great service and eco-chic hospitality solutions.
Eaton hotels are located in the heart of the city and local experiences. For example, in Eaton Hong Kong, guests can explore the local culture by participating in a series of free hotel activities such as local tours to the nearby tourist spots and daily tai-chi classes.
How it reinvents mid/upscale ‘Cool living’ with style and sustainability is what Eaton is about. Guests get great value in well-designed, functional rooms with all the essentials, and honest, reliable, dynamic service. Our Social Hub brings people together to work and play. Eaton’s Affordable Art programme is our way to help new artists to showcase their art using our public spaces as an open gallery. There is a trendy bar with fantastic cocktails and remarkable DJs.
Our design-led rooms are created for guests seeking a more flexible option of a guestroom. These open-plan rooms are suitable for guests travelling alone for leisure or business.
How many in operation Five (Hong Kong, Toronto, New Delhi and two in Shanghai)
Expansion plans We are looking at expanding and increasing our Eaton hotel footprint globally at the right location, with the right partner and opportunity.
Vice president, sales and marketing,
Langham Hospitality Group, Hong Kong
Additional reporting from Mimi Hudoyo, Rohit Kaul and Rosa Ocampo