Thai company signs franchise deal to set up 44 Tune hotels in five countries

BANGKOK: Evolution Capital, listed on the Thai Stock Exchange, is planning to invest over US$200 million (RM684 million) in the next few years to build, refurbish and operate 44 Tune in five countries.

The company has signed a franchise agreement with Tune Its president, Simon Gerovich said 24 hotels would be operated in the first phase within the next four years, with the first scheduled to be operational in Thailand's premier resort island of Phuket by 2010.

Besides newly set up hotels, half of them would be existing hotels to be refurbished as Tune hotels.

"We are leasing most of the land or space for 30 years to keep our initial cost low," he said at the announcement of the franchise agreement between Tune and Evolution Capital.

Tune was represented by its group chief executive officer Mark Lankester at the event on Dec 17.

The Thai partner, a real estate investment advisory and management firm focuses on hospitality and branded residential sectors.

Gerovich said besides Thailand where about half of the 44 hotels would be built, Evolution also planned to set up the limited service hotel brand in China, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Depending on locations, Gerovich said each hotel would have between 79 and 150 rooms, adding that they were hoping for occupancy between 70% and 80%, with average rate of US$20.

Lankester said Thailand is one of the leading tourist destinations in the region, and the entry of Tune into the market would bring in significant revenue to the group in the future.

"We are on track to have 65 to 68 hotels operational by 2013 and 100 by 2015. Once this is achieved, we hope to get most of revenue from overseas operations as generally Malaysia's hotel room rates are already very low," he said, citing the RM500 he had to pay for a two-star hotel in India as a comparison.

He said their seven hotels currently operating in Malaysia and Indonesia were getting an average of 95% occupancy, adding that over 500,000 guests have stayed in these hotels so far.

He said the company planned to enter other markets being served by AirAsia, such as India, Australia and the UK.-- Bernama

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