Thailand’s U City will invest three billion baht (US$93.7 million) to transform the Old Customs House on Bangkok’s riverfront into a luxury hotel.
U City and joint venture partners Amanresorts Services Limited and Silverlink Resorts inked the development deal with the Treasury Department of Thailand’s Ministry of Finance on May 24, 2019.
Besides the concession deal worth three billion baht, the developers will pay 1.6 billion baht in rental fees separately to the Treasury Department.
The deal grants U City rental of the 130-year-old state-owned property for a 30-year period.
Scheduled to open in 2025, the project will comprise up to 100 guestrooms, restaurants as well as conference and meeting rooms.
Piyaporn Phanachet, CEO of U City, said developers will renovate the old building and build an extension in the area.
The development – from excavation to restoration and construction – is expected to take approximately six years before the hotel opens to guests.
Meanwhile, U City is considering awarding a management deal to an international branded chain.
Hotel experts said U City is aimed at capitalising on tourism growth in Bangkok especially in the upper segment in around Chao Phrya River.
“The opening of a super luxe shopping mall like IconSiam and the trend of nostalgic travel are shaping hotel and tourism trends along the river,” he remarked.
U City, owned by Kiri Kanchanapas who controls the BTS sky train system, is expected to tackle established world class brands on the riverbank including Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Shangri-la, the Peninsula, Sheraton, and Hilton, the expert cited.
Currently, U City owns five hotels in Thailand such as Eastin Grand Sathorn Hotel, U Sathorn Bangkok and U Chiang Mai Hotel, plus 49 hotels managed under Vienna House Europe.
By 2025, U City plans to have more than 26,300 hotel rooms under multiple brands; Vienna House, U, Eastin, and Travelodge.
Update [June 4, 2019; 17.34]: The original article used ‘Aman Resorts Services Limited’ instead of ‘Amanresorts Services Limited’, the company name of the Thailand-based joint venture partner of U City