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.