Thailand’s Montara Hospitality Group – known in the luxury market for its Trisara resort in Phuket – has set up a separate company, Heritage Stay, to turn heritage buildings into posh hostels or poshtels.
The new company is a joint venture with an experienced hand at poshtels, Chittipan Srikasikorn, who was business development director at Lub d, part of Thailand’s Narai Hotel Group that operates modern hostels in Bangkok and Phuket.
Poshtels generally are design-, technology- and social-led, their growing popularity driven by travellers who desire local colour and interaction, not necessarily just budget accommodation. The trend started in Europe with brands such as Generator, which change the idea of hostels as cheap and dirty with their smart looks and a full social programme that brings guests together.
Heritage Stay adds a new twist. Its first project is a conversion of one of Asia’s oldest movie theatres, Prince’s Cinema in Bangkok's Bang Rak district, near Shangri-La Hotel, into a poshtel. Abandoned for years, the building is under the purview of the Thai Treasury; Heritage Stay has obtained a 10-year lease with an option to renew, according to Montara chief commercial officer, Kittisak Pattamasaevi.
The cinema is now being renovated into a theatre-inspired poshtel with around 100 beds. There will be private suites and ladies rooms, and the maximum number of beds per room will be eight, although each guest will have his/her privacy in a way that keeps to the them – theatre curtains in this instance.
“We’re looking at the top-end of hostel offerings, targeting an average rate of 600 baht (US$17) to 700 baht per night per bed,” said Kittisak. “We expect a high turnover due to the great location, the concept and our focus on key essentials such as security.”
The idea to turn heritage buildings into poshtels stems from his father’s love for old buildings. The Pattamasaevi family, which established Montara, has preserved buildings in Lampang as a library, art and exhibition centre.
Chittipan, who is managing director of Heritage Stay, said the company is looking to acquire or lease not just heritage buildings in Thailand but South-east Asia.
When asked how differently he would do poshtels from his previous company, he said: “The Lub d brand has a sense of fun, is social and vibrant. Heritage Stay will be more focused on local authentic experiences – we have tons of stories about the property and destination – and more social engagement. We want to be a smart host as we know travellers today don’t travel only for fun.”
Heritage Stay is targeting for 1,000 beds by 2019.