Asia Pacific hotel pipeline skews upscale

Japan

The Asia Pacific region's hospitality scene is booming, in spite of China's recent economic challenges. According to STR’s March 2016 Pipeline Report, 592,299 rooms in 2,558 projects are under contract across the region, representing an 8.7-percent increase compared with March 2015 and a 1.6-percent year-over-year increase in rooms in construction. The region reported 257,357 rooms in 1,022 projects in construction for the month.

Among chain scale segments, the upscale segment accounted for the largest portion of rooms under contract (27 percent with 160,063 rooms) and in construction (26.6 percent with 68,582 rooms). The upper upscale segment was the only other segment to account for 20 percent or more rooms under contract (23.9 percent with 141,367 rooms) or in construction (22.5 percent with 57,855 rooms).

What's in the Pipeline?

Marriott has recently signed numerous agreements with both Japanese and Chinese real estate companies to build co-branded hotels. Notably, the company's partnership with Japan's Mori Trust Group is set to develop five hotels in Japan under the Marriott brand. The deal is part of a large hotel renovation plan that Mori announced last October and includes investment of approximately $146 million. The five hotels would double the footprint of the Marriott Hotel brand in Japan and would boost JW Marriott’s Japanese presence by a third to some 20 properties. One of the first properties to emerge from the partnership will be the JW Marriott Hotel Nara, which is set to open in the spring of 2020, the same year as the Tokyo Olympics. Construction on the 150-room hotel is expected to start in 2017.

In early February, Marriott International and China-based Eastern Crown Hotels Group signed an exclusive development agreement to bring the Fairfield by Marriott brand to mainland China. The agreement would see as many as 140 hotels brought under the brand in five years, with 100 of them to open by 2021.

Hilton is also making a midscale push into China. Just last month, Hilton opened the Hampton by Hilton Guangzhou Zhujiang New Town. The 223-room hotel, managed by Huanpeng Hotel Management and located near the Tianhe Sports Center business zone, was built as part of a deal with Plateno Group, a Chinese developer and operator that is opening and managing Hampton hotels in the country over a five-year period. The Zhujiang New Town property will be the brand's flagship hotel in Guangzhou. At the opening, Bruce Mckenzie, SVP, operations, greater China & Mongolia for Hilton Worldwide, said that Guangzhou is one of China's four key cities, and a major development destination for Hilton in the coming years, driven primarily by growth in the midscale segment. 

Shanghai Duck King Real Estate Development, meanwhile, has the Grammy Jin Jiang Hotel slated to open in June 2017. The four-star hotel is now under construction in Shanghai's Jiading District.

And as we noted earlier this week, hotel operators in Australia are looking to attract Chinese visitors with integrated resort properties that include gambling as a prime attraction. Currently, a total of 12 casinos are expected to be developed or expanded, including the massive Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort planned near the northern city of Cairns in Queensland. The resort project, which will be developed by Hong Kong tycoon Tony Fung, will have eight hotels with a total of 7,500 rooms. The price tag for the project is estimated at $6.1 billion, and construction could start as early as 2017.

Gangneung, South Korea, is set to get a 342-room new-construction hotel in December 2017. The property will be under Vantage Hotels’ Value Hotel Worldwide brand name, known as Lexington Hotels outside of South Korea. The property in Gangneung is the fifth new build in the country to be introduced by Vantage’s master licensee for South Korea, Service Legend.

South Korea is also poised to get a new casino from the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. The Authority, which operates Mohegan Sun properties throughout the U.S., along with partners KCC Corporation and Incheon International Airport Corp.,  received a license from the Korean Government to develop and build an integrated resort at Incheon International Airport. Phase I of the development—called Project Inspire—is estimated at S$1.6 billion, with a commitment total of $5 billion over multiple phases. No opening date has been announced.