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Phuket Gets Boost From Russian Travelers

Alan Woinski

March 27th, 2023

Skift Take

  • Malaysia reopened its borders nearly a year ago and finally its hotel industry is getting back to pre-pandemic occupancy levels.
  • The resort island of Phuket in Thailand has seen a surge of Russian travelers in the high season. That adds to a jump in regional visitation from India, Malaysia and Singapore.
  • Reuters published an article on how the belief that airline stocks and online travel agencies would be the best Chinese travel reopening play was wrong.

Malaysia reopened its borders nearly a year ago and finally its hotel industry is getting back to pre-pandemic occupancy levels. The Malaysian Association of Hotels said the country recovered well in 2022 with the occupancy rate going from 36% to 54%. In 2019, the rate was around 60%, according to Tourism Malaysia data. The average room rate jumped 38% last year to reach US$74.

The resort island of Phuket in Thailand has seen a surge of Russian travelers in the high season. That adds to a jump in regional visitation from India, Malaysia and Singapore. C9 Hotelworks’ Phuket Hotel Market Update 2023 said market wide occupancy last year rose to 48%. It was a low of 8% in 2021. 1Q23 has seen the influx of Russian travelers and the expectations are that the third and fourth quarter of 2023 will benefit from the return of Chinese travelers.

Reuters published an article on how the belief that airline stocks and online travel agencies would be the best Chinese travel reopening play was wrong. The article said investors are shifting into airports, hotels and duty free operators and away from airline stocks because airlines are subject to fluctuating fuel prices and more intense competition. Reuters said Thailand has re-emerged as a favorite destination for Chinese travelers and for investors.

Las Vegas Sands, owner of Singapore integrated resort Marina Bay Sands, has been given another extension to start its $4.5 billion expansion plans. The Singapore Tourism Board has extended the deadline to start the expansion until April 8, 2024, the second time the construction deadline has been pushed back. MBS will have until April 8. 2028 to complete the extension.  The MBS expansion will include the development of a fourth hotel tower with a rooftop attraction, including a sky pool and signature restaurant, MICE facilities comprising meeting rooms, function rooms and exhibition halls plus a state of the art live entertainment area with a seating capacity of at least 15,000 people.  MBS will also be permitted to install an additional 1,000 gaming machines, taking its total to 3,500, and convert the entire 55th floor of Hotel Tower 1 into more casino floor space with a provision to purchase another 2,000 square meters of casino gaming area, if needed.

Minor Hotels announced the debut Oaks Hotels and Resorts in China with the opening of Oaks Chengdu at Cultural Heritage Park.  The first Oaks Hotel has opened adjacent to the previously launched sister property, Tivoli Chengdu, as part of a new project in partnership with Chengdu Qingyang Urban and Rural Construction Development Company Limited. The two hotels have a combined 398 rooms (Oaks with 197) ranging from deluxe rooms to suites and serviced apartments. The two occupy an area of nearly 110,000 square meters.  The hotels are situated on the south-west edge of the commercial and convention hub of Chengdu International Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Park, in the western part of Chengdu. The dual properties provide three food and beverage outlets, luxury Anantara Spa and fitness facilities, a children’s club and 5,388 square meters of conference and banquet space. 

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts signed an agreement to launch the first Wyndham Alltra in Vietnam under a partnership with private yacht manufacturer, Alliga Eternity Company Limited.  Wyndham Alltra Cat Ba is a 300 cabin superyacht resort that will be docked in the sea off Cat Ba Island on Vietnam’s Halong Bay. It will be the first project under the partnership of Wyndham and Alliga, with an expected opening in June 2026. The superyacht will include eight F&B outlets, a series of meeting rooms, swimming pool, and gym. Alliga plans to work with Wyndham to explore opportunities to deliver additional properties signed as franchisees of the Wyndham Alltra brand over the course of the next few years.  Alliga is also planning to build a second superyacht resort in Nha Trang, central coastal city of Vietnam, with Wyndham included. Wyndham Alltra is dedicated entirely to the fast-growing demand for all-inclusive resort experiences. Wyndham Alltra Cat Ba will be their first stationary superyacht in Asia Pacific and will join Wyndham’s portfolio of 15 hotels across varying brands in Vietnam.

The Best Western Plus Metro Clark in the Philippines has officially opened its doors to the public. The hotel, north of Manila, is considered a leap from the previous 3-star Best Western Metro Clark, with a 4-star rating and 14 stories of luxury rooms and amenities suitable for business and leisure. The hotel complex includes 186 rooms all considered smart rooms. The single device panel that controls everything also provides access to a range of entertainment options with more options to be added in the future. There are four specialty restaurants on-site including the Namari Japanese Bistro, Cactus Jack Smokehouse, Jack’s Pool Bar, and the Legend Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant. The hotel also has a fully equipped business center and meeting and conference rooms. Savers Group Holdings is the owner of the hotel.

ITC Hotel Group announced the opening of its first Mementos property by ITC Hotels, Ekaaya, Udaipur in India.  ITC said the Memento brand brings bespoke experiences at immersive locations through atypical hotels and resorts, unique by character, design or heritage. Mementos Udaipur is nestled in close proximity to Nathdwara and Elingji temple, 40 minutes from Udaipur airport. The hill-side resort has cluster villas with 117 keys. Every villa opens to a beautiful view of the panoramic Aravali. The hotel has an exclusive pool and a personal deck. The luxury property also has versatile meetings, banquets and events space with over one lakh square feet of area.

Brij Hotels announced the opening of Brij Bageecha in Kukas, Jaipur.  The hotel is nestled within 11 acres of natures bounty in Jaipur, India. The resort has 20 villas overlooking a tranquil lake. The 1,250 square foot private villas at Brij Bageecha have heated sit-in central water bodies that serve as the focal element in each villa and private sit-outs that overlook a serene lake. The resort includes four distinct luxury villa categories, from a villa with a heated plunge pool, private heated pool, and private jacuzzi, to a villa with a courtyard. Each villa features a private veranda with a lake view, ensuite he/she washrooms, individual show cubicles, study space, a living area with separate powder rooms and a fully equipped pantry.  The pet-friendly, all-villa resort, less than 4 hours from Delhi.

The Ambassador Hotel Mumbai, in the commercial capital of India, will be undertaking its final phase of renovations beginning next month. The hotel will be closing down the last three floors that make up for 50 rooms and a now defunct revolving restaurant, for refurbishment.  The hotel has completed 50 years of operations in the location under the same name. They started the renovation and refurbishment 7 years ago in a phased manner. The second, third and fourth floor were renovated in the first phase, followed by the fifth floor last year. The 115 room heritage hotel will be completing the third and final phase this year.

The INNSiDE by Melia Kuala Lumpur Cheras debuted in Malaysia’s capita on March 25. The new 238-room property is designed for those who mix work and play, seeking a hotel that does both. Situated in the vibrant commercial hub of Cheras, surrounded by shopping and nightlife, Malaysia’s first INNSiDE hotel enhances co-working and stimulates creativity with two multi-functional areas. It includes The Big Ideas Space and The Recording Studio that can cater for up to 30 guests, both on the fifth floor. The hotel features an alfresco palm tree-fringed infinity pool with an expansive sun-lounging deck. There is a 24 hour gym. As for the rooms, the property offers six room categories starting with the INNSiDE Room starting at 22 square meters. The most decadent room choice is one of two Townhouse Xtra accommodation options, which are 85 and 102 square meters. This is the second Melia property to debut in Malaysia following the 288 room Melia Kuala Lumpur that opened in 1990.

Alan Woinski

March 27th, 2023

Companies: Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Best Western Plus, Brij Hotels, Innside by Melia, ITC Hotels, Marina Bay Sands, Melia Hotels International, Mementos, Minor Hotels, Oaks Hotels Resorts Suites, Wyndham Alltra, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Locations: Chengdu, China, Jaipur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Manila, Mumbai, Philippines, Phuket, Singapore, Udaipur, Vietnam

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