According to news sources, the hospitality arm of Hong Kong-based Great Eagle Holdings, which currently operates eight hotels in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States, will open three new five-star properties in China next year. According to Smith Travel Research, hotel occupancy has dropped 12.4% in the Asia-Pacific region when compared to the figures of compared to 2007. And even Beijing during an Olympic year experienced a drop in hotel-occupancy of 16%.
According to Bob Van Den Oord, LHI’s vice-president of sales and marketing:
“These are tough times and there are uncertainties for all of us, but our expansion plans will place us in a good position. Other companies are halting investment while we’re spending 80 million pounds on our London property and opening new hotels worldwide over the next two years. The new hotels are aimed at bringing the heritage, expertise and experience from England and combining it with the service from Asia.”
Van Den Oord is not looking exclusively at things through rose-colored glasses. His optimism is partially based on a prediction by The World Tourism Organization that travel to East Asia will increase by 5% annually over the coming years, compared to a world average of 4.1%. The Pacific Asia Travel Association predicts China alone will receive USD 36 billion in tourism revenue in 2009.
The new hotels are slated to appeal to two distinct tourist groups of both upscale leisure and business travelers. “The Langham,” with hotels in London, Boston, Pasadena, Auckland, Melbourne and Hong Kong, represents “classic elegance,” while “Langham Place,” in Mongkok, Hong Kong and Krabi, Thailand, is more modern and aimed at attracting a younger clientele. Of the three properties expected to open in China next year, the Yangtze Boutique in Shanghai is of the classical elegance variety while the two new Beijing properties will both adopt the latter brand.
What is the overall picture for the Chinese hotel industry? It’s too late to ask Conrad Hilton for his opinion (even though his grandchildren may be available for a price).
Still, it would seem that LHI is well on its way to making predictions come true.
Perhaps Tinkerbelle does live after all?