Skift Take

Asia Pacific hotel markets are still struggling more than the U.S. and parts of Europe, but signs are pointing to a flickering of life in coming months with border reopenings and potentially even some massive holiday travel in China.

Series: Daily Lodging Report

Daily Lodging Report

Skift’s Daily Lodging Report is a subscription-required, email-only newsletter read by anyone and everyone in the hotel investor, owner, and operator space, including CEOs of some of the industry’s top brands. It covers North America and Asia Pacific with two separate regional editions.

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Here’s a sampling of what the Daily Lodging Report provided to its readers this past week. If you’re not a subscriber, you should be. Don’t wait. Sign up now here.

Sunday, Jan. 23

Accor announced that 2021 was a record-breaking year for signings in North & Central America. Most noteworthy deals for the region include the 550-room Fairmont Orlando and a yet-to-be-announced Fairmont projects, both opening in 2025; the Hotel Belmont Vancouver – MGallery Hotel Collection in late 2021 and Mayaliah Tulum Hotel & Residences – MGallery Hotel Collection, opening in 2024; and two Novotel developments in Mexico, both slated for 2023. 2021 major openings for the Group include the unveiling of the re-imagined Fairmont Century Plaza in LA; the opening of Novotel Mexico City Toreo; the reopening of Berkeley Park Hotel in Miami, following an $18 million renovation, as the newest member of the MGallery Hotel Collection. In 2022, Accor will introduce two of the Group’s ultra-luxury brands into the North American market with the opening of Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo, Panama; and Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences. Through Accor’s joint venture with Ennismore, the Group has signed several major projects expanding the presence of SLS and Morgans Originals brands. These include Artista San Antonio, a Morgans Original, opening in 2023; SLS Scottsdale, opening in 2024; and Legacy Miami World Center, a Morgans Original, opening in 2025. In 2022, Ennismore’s 21c Museum Hotels will debut a boutique hotel, art museum, a restaurant in downtown St. Louis, MO. 

Skift Note: Accor leaders haven’t shied away from the fact that their presence in North America could be bigger. Its new lifestyle hotel brand offshoot can help expand its development footprint in the highly competitive geography.

Monday, Jan. 24

Thailand will resume their Test & Go quarantine waiver for vaccinated travelers from February 1. This follows the suspension last month after the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. The Thailand Wellness Sandbox entry program is also launching in the coastal region of Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district and Phetchaburi’s Cha-am district. The locations were selected for the first tier of the Wellness Sandbox project. Tourism officials are aiming to use the Wellness Sandbox to promote Hua Hin and Cha-am as top health tourism destination in the world. Touting the local specialties like Thai massage and spa services as well as traditional Thai medicines and herbal products. The project will run together with the Thailand Riviera campaign, which was started to support tourism in emerging provinces in southern Thailand including Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Chumphon, and Ranong. Hua Hin and Cha-am will be the pilot Wellness Sandbox destinations.

Vietnam’s Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism said the government is targeting an April 30th end to border restrictions. They are pleased with the resorts of their version of a Sandbox program with 7,800 foreign tourists having arrived since November when the pilot scheme allowing some vaccinated travelers to visit dedicated parts of Vietnam went into effect. Seven locations – Kien Giang, Khanh Hoa, Da Nang, Quang Name, Quang Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Dinh – are currently allowed to welcome international tourists under the government’s pilot scheme.

Skift Note: While China remains largely closed off from the world as part of its coronavirus mitigation strategy, two Asia Pacific tourist hot spots are gearing up to welcome more international travelers.

Tuesday, Jan. 25

As to how the tone of ALIS is, that does depend on who reports on it. For example, Costar described hotel executives at the first day of the 2022 ALIS expressing overall optimism in the recovery of hotel demand and performance. They said attendees have been buoyed by strong leisure travel and are eager to make deals, either acquiring properties or in acquiring other companies. Truist acknowledged the optimism over the overall strength of leisure travel while at the same time reporting on how when Costar/STR said they did not see Real RevPAR getting back to 2019 levels until 2025, there was a groan heard in the audience. Truist described it was sensing an uncomfortable and creeping acknowledgement that individual business travel will likely take years to return to pre-Covid levels. They also said the same thing lacking at the NYU hotel conference was lacking at ALIS and that is discussion on how lodging trends might be impacted if there is another variant that stalls the recovery. Truist said attendance was down -40% to -50% versus pre-Covid levels.

Skift Note: Leisure travel demand drove much of the optimism spewed at this week’s Americas Lodging Investment Summit, but the hotel industry needs to at least acknowledge some alternative strategies to cope if, or when, business travel demand doesn’t come back as quickly as people predicted it would.

Wednesday, Jan. 26

Chinese New Year travel continues to be a question mark. ForwardKeys still sees flight bookings for the upcoming holiday period way down from pre-pandemic levels, down more than -75%. For now the results are still ahead of last year’s dismal results. With some restrictions being lifted there still is a chance for some respectability as around 60% of bookings on Chinese domestic flights are made under four days of departure. It is not like there will be any problem finding last minute hotel rooms.

Skift Note: China’s hotel performance has struggled in recent months as a result of lockdowns to contain any outbreak of new cases, but don’t rule out a last-minute pop in demand if some degree of restrictions are lifted for Chinese New Year.

Thursday, Jan. 27

JLL said they expect hotels in Asia Pacific to receive investment of more than US$9 billion this year, up 30% from 2021. The higher investment in the segment is just one of the themes likely to dominate the property sector in the region. Total capital outlay is expected to hit around US$200 billion, up 15% from the full year estimate for 2021. JLL believes Asia-Pacific’s real estate markets will be stronger in 2022 as investors maintain their bullishness and leasing activity continues to recover. The firm believes that as border controls start to ease and countries emerge from the pandemic, hospitality investors remain poised to enter the sector, searching for opportunities in traditional Asian gateway cities and increasingly in resort destinations as a result of pent-up leisure demand. China, including Hong Kong, Japan and Australia represented nearly 70% of the hotel investment volume as of September 2021 and JLL expects that to continue into 2022.

Skift Note: Tougher restrictions and lockdowns in the Asia Pacific region aren’t deterring hotel developer and investor interest. 

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