The Bangkok Mar­riott Mar­quis Queen’s Park ho­tel of­fi­cially opens its doors af­ter a mul­ti­year, B5bn ren­o­va­tion

Fol­low­ing a mas­sive B5bn ren­o­va­tion, ho­tel is first of its kind in Asia-Pacific


Mar­riott Ho­tels, in con­junc­tion with TCC Group’s As­set World Cor­po­ra­tion, yes­ter­day inau­gu­rated the Bangkok Mar­riott Mar­quis Queen’s Park ho­tel af­ter a 2½-year clo­sure for ma­jor ren­o­va­tions.

The ho­tel, which was ren­o­vated at a cost of 5 bil­lion baht, is the first Mar­riott Mar­quis in Asia-Pacific and one of seven world­wide, said Nis­hant Grover, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of As­set World Cor­po­ra­tion.

Aside from its Mar­riott in­vest­ments, TCC Group is plan­ning to en­ter the bou­tique seg­ment with five ho­tels in Bangkok, which will be de­signed by the end of this year and launched by 2018.

The num­ber of rooms and the in­vest­ment cost for the bou­tique ho­tels were undis­closed, but Mr Grover said the room price will be in the range of 1,000-1,500 baht per night. The ho­tels will be lo­cated in tourist des­ti­na­tions like the river­side or Chi­na­town in or­der to high­light the lo­cal cul­ture, with a fo­cus on ex­pe­ri­ences.

The bou­tique sec­tor is ap­peal­ing to all sec­tors of the mar­ket, but it is es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to bud­get-con­scious trav­ellers, Mr Grover said.

Asked whether TCC would re­bal­ance its port­fo­lio away from high-end chain ho­tels like Mar­riott and into this grow­ing sec­tor, he said TCC would strive to cap­ture growth on both fronts.

Rev­enue for As­set World Cor­po­ra­tion grew at dou­ble-digit rates from 2015 to 2016 and into 2017, higher than the sin­gle-digit growth ex­pe­ri­enced by the in­dus­try in the same pe­riod, Mr Grover said.

Mar­riott as a whole has grown at a rate of 10.1% year-onyear in the third quar­ter of 2016, and 7.7% year-on-year in the first nine months of the year. Ac­cord­ing to the IBIS world re­port, the global ho­tel and re­sort in­dus­try grew at an an­nu­alised av­er­age rate of 3.2% from 2012 through 2016, and will grow 2.8% in 2017 to US$877.7 bil­lion (29.1 tril­lion baht).

“Bangkok is an ag­gres­sively com­pet­i­tive mar­ket,” Mr Grover said, but there is still room to grow.

Fig­ures from the Tourism Author­ity in Thai­land in­di­cate that the mar­ket is grow­ing but at a slower pace, dragged in part by a crack­down on zero-dol­lar Chi­nese tour pack­ages and price in­creases on visas upon ar­rival. In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to Bangkok in­creased 7.5% year-on-year to 20.8 mil­lion in 2016, a far cry from the 24.5% in­crease from 2014 to 2015.

One can­not dis­count the changes in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try’s com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, which in­clude the rise of short­term rental ser­vices like Airbnb, as well as the move to­ward “bou­tique life­style” ho­tels, Mr Grover said. Bou­tique ho­tels are smaller prop­er­ties, which em­pha­sise com­mon ar­eas, un­usual ar­chi­tec­tures and touris­tic lo­ca­tions.

While Mar­riott prop­er­ties may not be in direct com­pe­ti­tion with short-term rental plat­forms like Airbnb, lower-price-point bou­tique brands may cater to the same cus­tomer seg­ment. A sub­stan­tial amount of this seg­ment is not only look­ing for unique lodg­ing, but also for lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences to com­ple­ment their stay.

Airbnb has pro­vided a menu of “lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences” to go along with book­ings since last year. The global rental gi­ant has taken a host of part­ners since the im­ple­men­ta­tion, in­clud­ing me­dia com­pany Vice and De­tour, which will pro­vide GPSguided au­dio tours of cities. In Bangkok, some top ex­pe­ri­ences by the com­pany in­clude an im­mer­sion into the tra­di­tion of sa­cred Thai tat­toos (Skyrant).

Mr Grover said that while Airbnb’s ex­pe­ri­ences may have been a suc­cess­ful ven­ture, they are miss­ing the stan­dard­i­s­a­tion that a com­pany like Mar­riott can pro­vide. He said that the com­pany will seek to en­ter the ex­pe­ri­ence mar­ket in the near fu­ture, but that it will seek to op­er­ate the ex­pe­ri­ences on its own, un­like Airbnb.

The Mar­riott Mar­quis build­ing was for­merly oc­cu­pied by the Im­pe­rial Queen’s Park Ho­tel. It in­cludes 1,360 rooms and 35 event spa­ces. Those num­bers, as well as the va­ri­ety of meet­ing spa­ces, are some of the main fea­tures of the build­ing. The sev­enth floor, for ex­am­ple, which pre­vi­ously served as a stor­age room, was turned into meet­ing space. Mr Grover de­clined to dis­close the prop­erty’s pur­chase price.

The ho­tel’s av­er­age on­line book­ing rate is north of 4,000 baht a night and has an oc­cu­pancy rate of 50%. Ac­cord­ing to Mar­riott’s web­page, the rate for a deluxe room with city view is close to 4,800 baht — a notch be­low Bangkok’s JW Mar­riott, which goes for close to 8,000 baht.

In 1-3 years, Mr Grover ex­pects the oc­cu­pancy rate to climb to 75%, close to the av­er­age 74.2% oc­cu­pancy rate for North Amer­i­can ho­tels un­der the Mar­riott um­brella, as well as the 75.2% for Mar­riott Ho­tels in Asia-Pacific.

Dig­i­tal is the other trend that the ho­tel in­dus­try can­not af­ford to miss out on, Mr Grover said.

On Aug 7, Mar­riott an­nounced that it would part­ner with Alibaba in or­der to cap­i­talise on tech­no­log­i­cally de­mand­ing Chi­nese tourists. The deal will al­low cus­tomers to book Mar­riott rooms through Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel plat­form, and pay for book­ings through Ali­pay, the in­ter­net gi­ant’s mo­bile pay­ment so­lu­tion.

Mr Grover says that while Bangkok is an ag­gres­sively com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, there is still room for the ho­tel in­dus­try to grow.

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