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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Budget travellers to drive demand for more affordable lodging

MALAYSIA’S hospitality industry can look forward to stronger growth as there is room for more niche facilities.

In the next three years, the industry will see the addition of about 5,600 new four-star and five-star hotel rooms. New facilities such as limited service hotels and service apartments are also expected to come on-stream.

Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector (PEPS) president James Wong believes the tourism market is bound for healthy growth as there is a need for more hotels and related facilities.

“The fastest growing markets are expected to be China and India, and as there are more budget travellers from those countries, we will need to build more affordable yet good quality accommodation including no-frills hotels,” he says.

Previndran Singhe says low-cos carriers have boosted tourism.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe says low-cost carriers have boosted the tourism industry. He says the country’s competitive rating has made it one of the most popular value-for-money destinations in the region.

Previndran says to continue attracting tourists into the country, air fares and travel packages must continue to remain competitively-priced.

Citing Malaysia’s ranking in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009, he said there is opportunity for more varied hospitality products and established brands to come into the country. These include spa resorts, premium hotel groups, branded budget facilities and heritage and eco-friendly facilities.

Knight Frank Research, in its latest Real Estate Highlights, says some of the proposed hotels in the capital city include a boutique hotel in KL Sentral, a 200-room Dorsett Regency business boutique hotel in Sri Hartamas, a 7-star Palace Residential Suite at the Mines Resort City with 430 suites, and a business or 5-star hotel from the redevelopment of Bangunan MAS along Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Other upcoming projects include the redesign, renovation and rebranding of the Crown Pricess Hotel as Doubletree, an upscale hotel brand under the Hilton group.

Schedule to open in the second quarter, Doubletree will form part of The Intermark, a mixed-use property development in KL.

Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur will undergo a RM40mil facelift over the next three years.

The 502-room Grand Dorsett Subang (formerly Sheraton Subang Hotel) was opened last October after a RM60mil renovation and refurbishment exercise.

One of the trends in the local hospitality market is the growing popularity of service apartments as an alternative to hotels, especially for long stay visitors.

“With relatively lower rates and more living space, including facilities for light cooking, service apartments are suitable for longer-term stay. This suits newly posted expatriates who need a few months accommodation as they search for a permanent residence,” says Wong.

Home-grown hospitality brand, Fairlane Hospitality, which manages Fairlane Residences in Bukit Bintang and myHabitat 2 service studios at Jalan Aman, sees potential to grow into a bigger hospitality company.

Ariff Ng at the myHabitat 2 service apartments.

General manager for area operations and business planning, Ariff Ng says well managed service apartments with good facilities are still in short supply.

“Fairlane Hospitality offers a truly Malaysian hospitality service that is set to redefine business and executive travel.

“Each apartment unit is designed with high quality fittings and furnishings that include a fully equipped kitchen with cooking implements, cutlery and clothes washer-dryer,” says Ng.

The company’s main target market is business travellers, corporate executives and families on vacation.

The myHabitat 2 service studios is a project by Asia Pacific Land Bhd and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year. The studio and two-bedroom apartments, with a built-up of 600 sq ft to 1,140 sq ft, are priced from RM760,000 to RM1.3mil.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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