Thailand’s Centara group in Mideast expansion

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Centara_Doha
Centara’s planned hotel at West Bay in Doha, Qatar

Thailand’s largest hotel operator, Centara Hotels & Resorts, has said that it is eager to expand with new facilities in the Middle East as it sees huge growth opportunities in the region. The statement came when the group announced that it will open its first Middle East hotel in Doha, the Centara Grand West Bay Hotel Doha, in 2016. The hotel will be operated under a management contract with Al Bandary Hotel Management LLC.

“We are proud to announce our move into Qatar with this beautiful new property in Doha,” Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive officer of Centara Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement on February 26.

“Our brand, with its distinctive Thai identity, is now being accepted by international investors and we are moving into markets that are strategically important for our overseas expansion,” he added.

While the group expressed its desire to expand further into the Middle East region, it is not yet clear which countries it is targeting. According to hospitality experts, Dubai or Abu Dhabi could be next on the list. Hotel occupancy rates of 80 per cent were maintained in Dubai during 2013 despite nearly 2,800 new rooms being added to the supply chain, Ernst & Young (EY) has said in its recent Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey. EY argues that Dubai’s tourism market “rapidly absorbed” the influx of new hotels and continued to perform “exceptionally well”, which could make a case for Centara.

While Bahrain — with which Thailand traditionally has good contacts —, as well as Kuwait, have also seen an upswing in their hospitality sector, it is unlikely that Centara would be able to expand into Saudi Arabia because the two countries have been long at serious odds due to some diplomatic frictions over incidents in the past.

Centara currently has 54 hotels and resorts in its portfolio, with a mixture of owned and managed properties. Most of these are already open, others are still in the pre-opening phase. In the next five years, the target is to acquire more than 45 hotel and resort properties, with the intention of reaching 100 in 2017. What makes a point for Middle East investors is that the company’s strategy is based on being “asset light”, which means it focuses on acquiring managed hotels, while it would also build its own property or do so in a joint venture, or fully acquire existing projects that fit into its portfolio.

Centara says its growth strategy covers main tourism destinations and gateway cities not only in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, but also major cities in the Indian Ocean region and possibly in Oceania. Existing properties can be found in the Maldives, Vietnam, Bali, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, and more four- and five-star hotels are planned in Shanghai and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Centara is a Thai company, with its roots in Thai society, and the culture of Thai hospitality is a very strong selling point throughout the world,” said Chirathivat.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Centara’s planned hotel at West Bay in Doha, Qatar

Thailand’s largest hotel operator, Centara Hotels & Resorts, has said that it is eager to expand with new facilities in the Middle East as it sees huge growth opportunities in the region. The statement came when the group announced that it will open its first Middle East hotel in Doha, the Centara Grand West Bay Hotel Doha, in 2016. The hotel will be operated under a management contract with Al Bandary Hotel Management LLC.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Centara_Doha
Centara’s planned hotel at West Bay in Doha, Qatar

Thailand’s largest hotel operator, Centara Hotels & Resorts, has said that it is eager to expand with new facilities in the Middle East as it sees huge growth opportunities in the region. The statement came when the group announced that it will open its first Middle East hotel in Doha, the Centara Grand West Bay Hotel Doha, in 2016. The hotel will be operated under a management contract with Al Bandary Hotel Management LLC.

“We are proud to announce our move into Qatar with this beautiful new property in Doha,” Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive officer of Centara Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement on February 26.

“Our brand, with its distinctive Thai identity, is now being accepted by international investors and we are moving into markets that are strategically important for our overseas expansion,” he added.

While the group expressed its desire to expand further into the Middle East region, it is not yet clear which countries it is targeting. According to hospitality experts, Dubai or Abu Dhabi could be next on the list. Hotel occupancy rates of 80 per cent were maintained in Dubai during 2013 despite nearly 2,800 new rooms being added to the supply chain, Ernst & Young (EY) has said in its recent Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey. EY argues that Dubai’s tourism market “rapidly absorbed” the influx of new hotels and continued to perform “exceptionally well”, which could make a case for Centara.

While Bahrain — with which Thailand traditionally has good contacts —, as well as Kuwait, have also seen an upswing in their hospitality sector, it is unlikely that Centara would be able to expand into Saudi Arabia because the two countries have been long at serious odds due to some diplomatic frictions over incidents in the past.

Centara currently has 54 hotels and resorts in its portfolio, with a mixture of owned and managed properties. Most of these are already open, others are still in the pre-opening phase. In the next five years, the target is to acquire more than 45 hotel and resort properties, with the intention of reaching 100 in 2017. What makes a point for Middle East investors is that the company’s strategy is based on being “asset light”, which means it focuses on acquiring managed hotels, while it would also build its own property or do so in a joint venture, or fully acquire existing projects that fit into its portfolio.

Centara says its growth strategy covers main tourism destinations and gateway cities not only in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, but also major cities in the Indian Ocean region and possibly in Oceania. Existing properties can be found in the Maldives, Vietnam, Bali, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, and more four- and five-star hotels are planned in Shanghai and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Centara is a Thai company, with its roots in Thai society, and the culture of Thai hospitality is a very strong selling point throughout the world,” said Chirathivat.

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