BERLIN, Germany — At the International Hotel Investment Forum, Steigenberger Hotels CEO Puneet Chhatwal talked about the company’s growth initiatives within Germany—where his brands are most prevalent—but also beyond Europe, even in the Americas.
“The German market has been experiencing some good RevPAR growth for the last few years,” Chhatwal said during an exclusive interview. “The market in all segments has been [increasing], and we have definitely been a beneficiary of this kind of upturn.” With a fairly stable market, he added, the company needed “a healthy level of growth” to improve its bottom line. “We are very happy about the way the market has progressed, and we see no chances of the market going down in the next six months to one year.”
Several hotels are in the company’s pipeline and slated to open this year and up through 2019. Notably, a new Jaz in the City hotel—Steigenberger's lifestyle brand—will open in Stuttgart by the end of 2016. The company’s first InterCityHotel—it's budget-friendly brand—in China is slated to open in Qingdao this summer. “We have a few negotiations in the end-phase,” Chhatwal said. “Some will work out. Some will not. We will communicate those as and when they are signed, done deals.”
The majority of Steigenberger’s portfolio is in Germany, but the brand is represented in several European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Dubai, China and Egypt. And while Chhatwal is pleased with the company’s position in Europe, he would not mind some expansion into new European hubs, more growth in the Middle East and a foothold in India. “These are very important feeder markets for Europe, [and will be] in five to 10 years from now.”
Steigenberger has no hotels in the Americas—for now. “There are certain cities in the U.S. which lend themselves automatically to international growth,” he said. “New York City is one of those.”
Steigenberger does not have a wide variety of brands, Chhatwal acknowledged, but said that the brands they have are clearly positioned. The company’s InterCityHotel brand was launched as a joint venture with Germany’s railway system, for example, and the name came from the high-speed trains. As such, the hotels were positioned by train stations, making it a popular pick for commuters. The brand has been a successful one for the company, Chhatwal said, and helped keep the company afloat during the global financial crisis.
“I think the industry is experiencing a peak,” Chhatwal said of the future of hospitality. “I hope that the industry is able to extend this peak and take it into 2017.” While acknowledging conflicts like the migrant crisis and political tensions across (and beyond) Europe, Chhatwal believes that a good 2016 will be “very healthy for the industry in general and Steigenberger in [particular].”