Hotel chains warily eye expansion

Hotel chains warily eye expansion

Guests relax by the pool at Vijitt Resort in Phuket on July 1 — the opening day for arrivals via the Phuket sandbox tourism scheme. (AFP photo)
Guests relax by the pool at Vijitt Resort in Phuket on July 1 — the opening day for arrivals via the Phuket sandbox tourism scheme. (AFP photo)

Hotel chains continue to tread lightly to maintain liquidity, while cautiously rolling out expansion plans amid the pandemic, which has quickly deteriorated prospects for recovery.

Garth Simmons, chief executive at Accor for Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, said Accor implemented a €200 million (7.6 billion baht) recurring cost savings plan, with strong liquidity of over €4 billion, putting the group in a strong position to survive the current crisis.

Although there have been some delays to launches of new hotels due to a lack of materials and labour, Accor is still committed to expanding its portfolio in Thailand from 89 hotels to 107 hotels over the next five years.

However, slow vaccine rollouts are considered to be the biggest threat to recovery in the hospitality sector in Thailand.

Mr Simmons suggested travel bubbles are essential in helping Thai tourism survive as there are hopeful signs from potential countries where governments are keen to safely reopen their borders such as Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

William Heinecke, founder and chairman of Minor International, said the company set up a strategic roadmap to support business continuity during and post-pandemic with three phases.

The first phase is to focus on immediate priorities. This will be followed by the second phase, which would include preparations for medium-term rebound such as scenario analysis.

The third phase is to emphasise post-pandemic business opportunities.

The firm continues to focus on minimising cash burn and preserving liquidity through cost control and capital expenditure reduction over the next two years.

Dirk De Cuyper, chief hospitality officer of S Hotels & Resorts (SHR), said the firm implemented a new model for its hotel operations, focusing on flexible workforces based on occupancy rates.

It will increase efficiency of its existing portfolio during the short to medium term.

For SHR's long-term plan, the company plans to invest in key tourist destinations with a strong seasonal balance.

"Any short-term expansion will be carefully considered while there will be plenty of investment opportunities post-pandemic, so we need to be prudent to reset our investment criteria," Mr De Cuyper said.

SHR aims to expand into an asset-light portfolio of self-managed lifestyle hotels and resorts in Thailand to serve growing leisure demand in the future.

Onyx is on course to open hotels in Thailand and Asia-Pacific despite setbacks in some projects due to restrictions amid Covid-19, said Yuthachai Charanachitta, group chief executive at Italthai Group.

Onyx Hospitality Group, a hospitality business under Italthai Group, will open a new Shama hotel in Bangkok's Yen Akat by October.

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