In this week’s roundup of news from the Asia/Pacific region: China experiences a slowdown during Q1; Sri Lanka begins to rebuild its hotel industry; and hotels in Australia and New Zealand struggle for rate parity.
China's first-quarter economic growth slowed to a lower-than-expected 8.1%, the lowest since the first quarter of 2009.
Westin Hotels & Resorts plans to add 30% more hotels in Asia this year to meet demand from tourists and business travelers.
Many 3- to 5-star hotels in Australia and New Zealand are seeing their rooms listed more cheaply on OTAs than on their brand.com site, according to RateGain’s Hotel Rate Parity Trends.
Each week, HotelNewsNow.com provides a news roundup from a different world region. Today’s roundup focuses on the Asia/Pacific region.
China’s Q1 economic growth slowed to 8.1%
China's first-quarter economic growth slowed to a lower-than-expected 8.1%, the lowest since the first quarter of 2009, according to Wall Street Journal.
China's growth was still above the 7.5% target set by the government, and its economy remains a bright spot in a world economy looking for drivers. China's resilient growth and strong public finances stand in contrast to the United States and Europe, where unemployment remains elevated and high public debt limits the scope for a stimulus.
But the 8.1% figure—compared with expectations of 8.3% growth according to economist surveys—is a marked slowdown from 8.9% during the fourth quarter of 2011.
Sri Lanka begins to rebuild its hotel industry
Nearly three years after Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war came to an end, the country is ramping up efforts to recapture its status as one of Asia’s most popular holiday destinations.
The efforts begin with new development. Sri Lanka, a country of approximately 20 million, has fewer than 15,000 registered hotel rooms, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. The government wants to add 35,000 rooms within the next four years to meet the projected demand of 2.5 million foreign visitors.
Westin plans to add 30% more hotels in Asia
Westin Hotels & Resorts, owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, plans to add 30% more hotels in Asia this year to meet demand from tourists and business travelers, according to a Bloomberg report.
Stamford, Connecticut-based Westin, which has 23 hotels in Asia, plans to add seven to eight more properties as economic growth in India and China boost demand, said Brian Povinelli, global brand leader for Westin.
“Our most aggressive growth market is Asia,” Povinelli said. “We have a heavy emphasis on India and China, where we have penetrated most of the key cities, and now we are in a mode of going beyond the core cities, especially in China.”
Westin plans to add 11 new hotels in 2012, with more than half in the brand’s strongest market of China, as well as new hotels in Indonesia and India, Povinelli said. Business and leisure travel is recovering after companies and consumers cut spending during the global recession that started in 2008 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings.
Australia, New Zealand hotels struggle for rate parity
Many 3- to 5-star hotels in Australia and New Zealand are seeing their rooms listed more cheaply on online-travel agency sites than on their brand.com site, according to RateGain’s Hotel Rate Parity Trends.
In the 3-star category, the percentage of hotels in parity was no higher than 23%. The rate parity situation was even worse for 4-star properties, where rate parity wasn’t higher than 18%.
The situation improved somewhat with 5-star hotels, where rate parity was as high as 33%. Also, in Christchurch, New Zealand, 100% of hotels were cheaper on brand.com than on OTAs.
Carlson Rezidor, Bestech Hospitalities partner to develop in India
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced a strategic partnership with Bestech Hospitalities Private Limited in India. The two companies are joining forces to tap into the growing mid-scale hotel market in India.
Carlson Rezidor and Bestech will invest $42 million in a joint venture to develop the first two hotels, Park Inn by Radisson Gurgaon Sector 88 and Park Inn by Radisson Chandigarh, Mohali.
Bestech will have exclusive development rights for Park Inn by Radisson in central and north India, with the goal to develop 49 Park Inn by Radisson hotels by 2024 in north and central India.
Carlson Rezidor will manage the hotels through a management company in which Bestech is a partner.
Carlson Rezidor will be introducing a new generation of Park Inn by Radisson, developed with a strong focus on the growing middle class in key emerging markets.
China Lodging Group appoints new COO
China Lodging Group Limited announced the appointment of Yunhang Xie as COO effective 5 April 2012.
Qi Ji, founder, executive chairman and CEO of China Lodging, will transfer the supervision responsibilities of various operational functions to Yunhang gradually in the next three to six months. After the transition, Qi will focus on corporate strategy, new brands and major investment decisions, and Yunhang will assume responsibilities for the company's overall operation.
"We are pleased to have Mr. Yunhang Xie joining our executive team. He will bring us deep knowledge in the information technology domain and solid experience in managing a large-scale service business, both valuable in our future growth, especially in today's environment, where information technology is reshaping our daily life,” Qi said in a statement.
Key openings, transactions
Jin Jiang International announced plans to develop the 360-room Jin Jiang International Resort at the Hello Kitty Amusement Park in China’s Zhejiang province.
JHM Interstate India—a joint venture between Interstate Hotels & Resorts and JHM Hotels—signed a contract to manage the 85-room Khyber Mountain Resort and Spa in Kashmir, India.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced it will open its first dual-branded ski resort complex later in 2012 in Changbaishan, China. The 257-room Westin Changbaishan and the 296-room Sheraton Changbaishan Resort will open in August 2012.
Swissôtel Hotels and Resorts took over the management of the Courtyard by Marriott Phuket at Kamala Beach in Thailand, effective 1 April. Rebranded as Swissôtel Resort Phuket, the property is the company's third property in Thailand.
Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced an affiliate signed a management agreement with Hotel de la Paix for the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Cambodia. Under the agreement, Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap will be rebranded as Park Hyatt Siem Reap. The hotel will close on 30 June for a complete renovation and is expected to open as Park Hyatt Siem Reap in the first quarter of 2013.
Swissôtel signed a management contract for the 300-room Swissôtel Grand Mumbai, which is slated to open in 2014.
The ITC Grand Chola, Chennai, part of The Luxury Collection by Starwood, opened 2 April 2012 in India.
Carlson Rezidor announced the opening of the Radisson Blu Hotel Istanbul Asia.
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