Tourism slump hastens Windsor Suites renovation closure
Sukhumvit 20 property to reopen at year-end under new brand after B500m facelift
published : 6 Mar 2020 at 20:08
writer: Narumon Kasemsuk
The Windsor Suites Hotel in Bangkok will temporarily close its doors for renovation at the end of April, with its executives admitting the tourism downturn due to the coronavirus spread had accelerated the decision.
Windsor Suites Hotel chief executive Bundit Bosereewong said on Friday the hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 20 would be closed for a major facelift worth 400-500 million baht and would reopen within eight months during the high season.
The hotel is laying off 400 staff but has committed to re-employ them in available positions when it reopens.
Even though the renovation plan had been set before the epidemic, Mr Bundit said now was a good time to close the whole building for renovation as it is not worth running while demand is so weak.
Based on bookings, average occupancy of the hotel in March and April was running at around 30%, directly affected by the absence of Chinese and South Korean guests, and the Japanese corporate segment which is a major source market.
When the refurbishment is finished at the end of this year, the family owners will allow the international management group Accor to rebrand the 458-room property as a Grand Mercure.
“We have to shift the strategy and let an international brand tune in because the competition in the Sukhumvit area is more intense as new supply is added every year," said Mr Bundit.
"A standalone brand has a network deficit and cannot compete with other international brands atthis time."
He said tourism conditions at the end of this year should be better. Under the new brand, room rates are expected to increase from an average of 2,800 baht to 3,500 baht a night, with average occupancy of 80% within three years.
In a message sent to the hotel employees on Thursday, the owners stated that "as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and the dramatic downturn in business over recent months, we now no longer have a choice but to close down the hotel.
"The last day of operation for the hotel will be on April 30, which will also be everyone’s last working day."