Rooms Hotels

The Australian Hospitality Group Expanding Across Asia to the Middle East

Aug 23, 2014 4:00 pm

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The big hotel chains need to stay on alert for company’s like StayWell that know the markets in southeast Asia and the Middle East better than they do.

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Interior of Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel, Dubai. StayWell


Australian group to operate 100 properties worldwide by 2017

StayWell Hospitality Group, or SWHG, recently shared details of its ambitious growth strategy, that will see the group expand its portfolio to cover 100 properties across the world by 2017.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Simon Wan, the chief executive officer, managing director and key shareholder of the Sydney-based hospitality group, said that SWHG manages 34 properties operating across Australia, Dubai, Indonesia, New Zealand, India and Singapore. In addition, the group currently has 12 properties under development in India, Australia, China, and the United Kingdom.

SWHG is privately owned by three stakeholders and holds equity and/or ownership interests in 16 of its 34 hotels. The group operates two brands — Park Regis and Leisure Inn — and has an annual turnover of A$58 million. Over the last 12 months, SWHG has increased its portfolio of hotels 30 per cent, opening nine hotels in India, Bali, New Zealand and Tasmania.

According to Wan, the group plans to increase its domestic presence as well as focus on the international market as part of its planned expansion.

“We recently entered into a joint venture with a partner in South Africa and they have agreed to bring our Leisure Inn and Park Regis brands into South Africa,” said Wan. “We are also in the final stages of negotiating with a partner in China, which will bring these two brands into the country. In addition, we are in the final stages of negotiation to have a partner in the UAE. Right now they have seven hotels across the Middle East; they have a hotel in Iraq, in Turkey and in Lebanon, and so this move will definitely strengthen our position.”

“In India we are already up and running, as we have signed nine hotels there. Two of them are already open and seven are currently under development. By 2017, we hope to have 15 hotels there,” he added. “Also, we will soon be opening two hotels in London. Our hope is to have about a dozen hotels in the UK and Europe, so in a geographic sense, we are very evenly spread out with our plans to open a hundred hotels.”

Elaborating on SWHG’s Middle Eastern expansion, Wan said that the group recently established a development office in Dubai as a result of the regained confidence investors have in the country.

“We are also in the process of negotiating two other hotels in Dubai. One has 210 rooms, and the other 265 rooms. One will hopefully be open in 12 months, while the other will open in 18 months,” Wan noted. “We are also in negotiations in Saudi Arabia, which is a very strong market domestically. We hope to finalise negotiations of a partnership there. In addition, we are also looking at Qatar and Doha. Our target is to hopefully have 15 hotels in the Middle East by 2015, with at least five in the UAE.”

He added: “Our Middle East, China and South Africa partnerships are completely new and young partnerships. Another new country we are focusing on is Indonesia. We are negotiating a joint venture there, since it is a big country which is going through a huge economic boom. Our aim at this stage is to work closely with our new partners to implement our business plan and strategies, and be able to execute them successfully.”

Wan further revealed that 2014 had yielded some very impressive results for the group, particularly in the UAE.

The Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai recorded a strong performance in the first half of 2014, registering a 10 per cent increase in revenue per available room and a 7.2 per cent rise in average room rates, compared to the corresponding period last year. Enjoying an average occupancy of 80 per cent, the hotel witnessed a 20 per cent increase, when compared to figures last year during the same period.

Wan also noted that the group will finish of the year on a strong note, despite facing some challenges.

“We will see a few short-term challenges since we have a few new hotel openings, but I am sure that Dubai will rise up to the challenges,” he said. “The key is for the industry personnel and the government to work together to stimulate demand, and the UAE government has been taking a very strong lead in promoting tourism by providing great infrastructure.”

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