PETALING JAYA: The Ascott Ltd (Ascott), CapitaLand’s wholly-owned lodging business unit is striving to become the largest hospitality management company in Malaysia – one of its key markets in the Southeast Asian region.
“We are the largest hospitality management company in the Philippines and we hope to replicate that in Malaysia,” said Darren Cher, Ascott country general manager for Malaysia.
Currently, it is the largest international serviced residence operator in Malaysia with a total of 4,102 serviced apartment units across 18 properties in the country.
In line with Ascott’s expansion goals, the group is currently exploring options with a couple of property developers in Malaysia and some things could materialise this year.
The group is also planning to expand in Malaysia with new hotel brands that were recently acquired.
Striving to become a full-fledged lodging provider, Ascott ventured into the Indonesian hotel market last September with the acquisition of a 70% stake in TAUZIA Hotel Management, one of Indonesia’s top five hotel operators.
“We no longer see ourselves as just a serviced residence operator as we wanted to become a full-fledged lodging [provider], so entering the hotel [business] was a natural extension of where we were, considering our clients can stay from one night to one year and above,” said Cher.
“The world is changing and the market is very dynamic. As a company, we need to constantly innovate and change with our customers while growing our segments. We can no longer just target the long stays and corporate clients as we need to target anywhere from the middle class travellers to millennials as well as those who want different lengths of stays,” he told EdgeProp.my.
He said there are six hotel brands under TAUZIA, namely Harris Hotels, Fox Harris Hotels, Yello Hotels, Préférence, Harris Vertu Hotels and POP! Hotels and each brand covers a different market segment from millennial and middle class travelers to business-class and high-end travellers.
“Currently, TAUZIA has 10,000 keys in Indonesia with another 10,000 keys under development. Their projects outside Indonesia is pretty limited. Apart from a 30-room hotel dubbed Liu Men Melaka, there is a Harris Vertu Hotel and a Harris Hotel in Nha Trang, Vietnam that are being developed,” he added.
Luxury boutique hotel Liu Men Melaka had its soft-opening in March, and is under the Préférence brand.
Ascott is going to expand the Préférence brand hotels while bringing the other TAUZIA brands into Malaysia. The group believes all six brands present opportunities in the Malaysian market.
For instance, the mid-tier brands of POP! And Fox Harris will allow the group to enter secondary cities in Malaysia, said Cher.
“So far, our focus was on the big cities. These hotel brands will allow us to penetrate secondary cities where there is a demand for travel, but do not expect the kind of rates one would pay in Kuala Lumpur,” he elaborated.
“We hope to at least see one or two projects materialise this year,” he continued, adding that potential areas could be Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Subang Jaya and the areas along Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur.
He pointed out that Ascott wants to create operating synergy and economy of scale by combining its hotel and serviced residence brands to forge a “combo product”.
“We can actually have projects where we fit two brands in one. For example, it could be a Citadines serviced apartment combined with a Yello Hotel, where the former caters for mid-to-long stays while the latter caters to the short stays,” he said.