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Asia-Pacific

Foreigners Buying Japanese Hotels at a Higher-Than-Usual Rate

Alan Woinski
April 18th, 2023 at 11:30 AM EDT

Skift Take

  • Bloomberg published an article saying foreign investors are buying up Japanese hotels at a scale unseen in almost a decade, as the nation’s tourism recovery, weak currency and low-interest rates drive an appetite from abroad.
  • As expected, the Japanese government wasted no time in approving the Osaka prefecture Integrated Casino Resort plan once the Governor was reelected and the first poll came out showing a favorable view.
  • Accor is expanding its presence in Japan with the signing of ibis Styles Tokyo Ginza East, centrally situated in the shopping and entertainment district of Ginza.

Bloomberg published an article saying foreign investors are buying up Japanese hotels at a scale unseen in almost a decade, as the nation’s tourism recovery, weak currency and low-interest rates drive an appetite from abroad. MSCI Real Assets said overseas buyers were responsible for 47% of the 494.3 billion yen (US$3.7 billion) invested in hotel deals that closed in the past 12 months. That is the highest proportion since 2014. Hotel investment makes up about a tenth of real estate deal activity in Japan but foreign investors have historically been drawn more to residential or retail properties. Savills recently issued a report predicting low upcoming hotel supply so that is unlikely to disrupt the operating performance of hotels due to the moderate competition in the market.

As expected, the Japanese government wasted no time in approving the Osaka prefecture Integrated Casino Resort plan once the Governor was reelected and the first poll came out showing a favorable view of an IR in one of the two proposed locations. Nagasaki’s approval is way off in the future, if it happens at all. MGM and Orix are expected to begin building the near US$10 billion IR soon with an opening still suggested for 2029 although most expect 2030 or beyond. The Nagasaki IR proposal from the Casinos Austria consortium is for a US$3.2 billion development in Sasebo City alongside Huis Ten Bosch theme park.

Accor is expanding its presence in Japan with the signing of ibis Styles Tokyo Ginza East, centrally situated in the shopping and entertainment district of Ginza. The hotel has 135 guestrooms with some incorporating Japanese tatami flooring. The hotel also features indoor and open-air baths on the rooftop, the only hotel in Ginza to offer such facilities. A restaurant offers an array of Japanese and Western dishes for breakfast.

Travelodge Hotels (Asia) Pte Ltd opened Travelodge Sapporo Susukino in Sapporo City, Hokkaido in Japan on February 20, 2023. We have no idea why it took them until now to announce it. The hotel is adjacent to the Sapporo Snow Festival Susukino venue and has 212 guestrooms.

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office in Singapore published a report saying recovery in travel and tourism to pre-pandemic levels in the 10-country ASEAN and the three linked large country economies of China, South Korea and Japan might only happen in 2024. They predict “revenge travel” will be one of the key drivers of tourism demand in the near term. China holds the key as the largest source of tourists for most of the region’s economies. Those with legalized casino gaming may have a leg up on the other members. Macau and Singapore, as well as the upcoming casino country of Japan, have recognized MICE as an important element in ensuring their casino resorts increase length of stay by guests.

Investment bank Maybank said Chinese travel to Singapore is recovering at a faster rate than to other ASEAN nations, buoyed by greater seat capacity and increased demand. They cited greater airline seating capacity, which is tipped to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels for Singapore by mid-year compared with just 45% for trips from China to Thailand and Malaysia. Singapore is also said to fast becoming a preferred destination of high-net-worth Chinese citizens. Post-Covid, Singapore has leap-frogged to seventh position in the top 10 preferred outbound destinations for high-net-worth Chinese, surpassing Dubai, Italy and the UK. Maybank said Thailand may attract more Chinese tourists going forward but it seems Singapore will attract more high-net-worth Chinese tourists going forward. They also cited longer stays and further visits by Chinese since the reopening with lengths of stay of more than 14 nights the fastest to recover relative to 2019 in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The number of Chinese tourists traveling as independent travelers also is recovering faster relative to 2019.

Macau’s government believes the SAR needs to stop prioritizing visitors based on their spending capabilities and instead provide more low-end hotel rooms. Macau has been pushing more non-gaming amenities but lower-end customers have been complaining that hotel rooms are too expensive. The Macau government is hoping some casino operators will build new hotel towers that might be less glitzy than their five-star options. More than 58% of the nearly 39,000 hotel rooms in Macau are in the five-star category. Macau’s chief executive believes more two, three and four star hotel rooms are needed to meet the region’s diversifying demand to the mass market over the high roller. The average casino guestroom in Macau went for $250 a night during the recent Easter holiday.

Macau visitor arrivals reached 98,000 last Saturday, the highest single-day visitor tally this year. While that is nice, these are definitely the low-end, non-gambling crowd as the gambling revenue has been reported to be stagnant with February and March despite the near doubling of average visits. More than 2,300 tour groups have visited Macau, taking advantage of subsidies offering by the local tourism bureau. The subsidy plan offers travel agents up to MOP500 ($62) per night per tourist from international markets for tour groups of at least four people.

The Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute issued information on Sunday revealing the number of participants in MICE events in Macau during March 2023 reached nearly 200,000 , with more than 15,000 business visitors attending meetings. 97 MICE events were held in Macau in the first quarter of 2022.

Luxury Italian fashion house Versace has cut ties with the Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The hotel will lose their branding with the Medusa heads to be removed. A new agreement with the hotel could not be reached with reports that Versace felt the current owners had not maintained the hotel to the standard of the House of Versace.

The Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, has been put on the market for sale by owners Dion Chandler, Simon Ongorato and Aziz Kheir. Adelphi features 34 guest rooms, a cocktail bar and boardroom, plus the rooftop bar, events venue and swimming pool designed in the form of a glass-bottomed shipping container that is cantilevered 1m over the hotel’s façade. JLL Hotels & Hospitality and CVA Property Consultants are handling the sale. The NOMAD Melbourne restaurant is on the hotel’s lower level and has a long term lease. The asking price was reported to be in the range of $25 million.

CBRE said the Yasawa Island Resort & Spa, one of Fiji’s leading luxury resorts, has been listed for sale by Sydney-based vendors, James and Erin McCann. The facility is the sole occupant on the 30ha island with 18 luxury beachfront bungalows, a private airstrip, world-class food and beverage and a day spa. The International Expression of Interest campaign is closing on May 11.

The newly officiated Raia Hotel and Convention Center in Kuching, Malaysia,held their opening ceremony. It is expected to help boost the state’s tourism industry. The hotel offers 237 accommodation rooms and a convention center that can accommodate up to 2,000 people at a time.

Marriott International’s JW Marriott brand made its debut in Goa, India. The JW Marriott Goa is located along the Goan coastline in India in Vagator, Goa. This is Marriott’s one hundred fiftieth opening in South Asia. The 151-room JW Marriott Goa features four dining venues including the sky-dining Agua Bar and Café, perched atop the hotel overlooking the infinity pool. The hotel grows seasonal vegetables and herbs for their restaurants in the JW Garden. The hotel offers the Spa by JW, featuring Goa’s first and only Turkish and Moroccan hammams, or steam rooms. The JW Fitness, Family by JW program, and 18,752 square feet of indoor and outdoor event spaces round out the amenities.

Alan Woinski
April 18th, 2023 at 11:30 AM EDT

Companies: Accor, CBRE Hotels, ibis Styles, JLL, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Travelodge Hotels Asia

Locations: Australia, Fiji, Goa, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Melbourne, Osaka, Sapporo, Singapore, Tokyo

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