Accor ‘humbled’ to get Raffles but industry is watching


THE realisation that AccorHotels will be managing Raffles Hotels & Resorts, one of the most iconic luxury brands, is starting to hit home, and while the mid and upscale chain has pledged to uphold the jewel, industry members interviewed are not convinced.

The founding chairman of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Richard Helfer, who was also instrumental in acquiring the Swissotel brand, said: “I have seen this child now change hands four times since we were there.

“Though a good quantity of the original DNA is still there, much of course has changed, still we helmed her longer than anyone else and when she was in the formative years. So we are hopeful that this will work out well for her.

“Let’s see how this change of parents works out.”

Asked for his views if Accor’s acquisition of FRHI made sense, Bill Heinecke, CEO, Minor Hotels International, said: “Overall I don’t feel that Swissotel or Fairmont add any real value beyond size to Accor and these brands will certainly create more competition for existing Accor owners. Raffles is a nice upmarket brand, however it has suffered from lack of growth over the last number of years.”

Michael Issenberg, COO of AccorHotels Asia-Pacific, however, reiterated that the deal “would enable us to achieve our new ambitions in the luxury and upscale sector and will provide fantastic opportunities for both guests and owners moving forward.”

“We are very excited to acquire the FRHI portfolio of hotels and to add such iconic brands to the AccorHotels network,” said Issenberg.

“We are humbled to be entrusted with the legendary Raffles brand, which has been the benchmark for luxury hospitality since 1887 and to add the Fairmont and Swissôtel brands to our luxury and upscale portfolio.”

Robert Hecker, director at Horwath Asia-Pacific, believed the Accor-FRHI deal was a good one for Accor. “It really helps them in the top end and in North America,” he said.

On further consolidation, his bet was it “may be done for awhile” as the two main ones talked about had been sealed.

“I don’t think it puts added heat or incentive for other consolidations, but that’s different from an acquisition simply to get into the global hotel space,” said Hecker.

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