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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Banyan Tree comes to KL

Lai: ‘Buyers draw comfort from the brand recognition of Banyan Tree.’

The collaboration between local developer Lumayan Indah Sdn Bhd and Singapore-based Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd will see the opening of the luxurious Banyan Tree Signatures Pavilion Kuala Lumpur hotel in 2016.

The Banyan Tree Signatures Pavilion Kuala Lumpur project with a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.4bil comprises a 55-storey block of 441 private residences, 51 service residences, and 50 hotel suites.

It is located on 1.46 acres at the junction of Jalan Conlay and Jalan Raja Chulan, and is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The Banyan Tree Phuket is the flagship property of the Banyan Tree Group, known for its high standards.

According to 1 Pavilion Property sales and marketing director Tracey Lai, buyers draw comfort and confidence from the brand collaboration of Banyan Tree, a respected global hotel brand and Pavilion, an iconic award winning premier shopping mall.

Banyan Tree, listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, is a leading manager and developer of premium resorts, hotels and spas around the world.

Lai says Banyan Tree will operate the 50 hotel suites and manage the private and service residences, while 1 Pavilion Property Consultancy Sdn Bhd is the sales and marketing consultant of the Banyan Tree Signatures private residences.

“With this collaboration, the Banyan Tree trademark can be used to promote, market and sell the Banyan Tree Private Residences. Since the sales preview of the project in July, the response has been good with a take up rate of 80% mainly from local buyers,” Lai discloses.

With average sizes of 1,076 sq ft to 2,174 sq ft, the residences are priced at an average RM2,000 per sq ft, with vacant possession of the residences in 2015.

At 55 stories, she says the project will be one of the tallest residential buildings in the country, and a private link bridge to the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall allows exclusive access to the mall.

More Banyan offshoots

Banyan Tree executive chairman Ho Kwon Ping hopes the company's entry in Kuala Lumpur's hospitality market will pave the way for more hospitality projects in Malaysia.

“We are on the look out for other opportunities in East and West Malaysia, and hope to be able to make some announcements in due course,” he discloses to StarBizWeek in an email response.

Ho says Banyan Tree typically opts for stunning locations and also gateway cities for its resorts, with the hope of creating unforgettable holiday and travel experiences for its guests.

“Banyan Tree Signatures Pavilion Kuala Lumpur will be a new and innovative product concept offering a suite of diverse and complementary facilities and services spa, a retail gallery and a destination roof-top restaurant anchored by an iconic hotel and primary luxury residences.

“We look to offer a holistic lifestyle encompassing dining, shopping and relaxation delivered with the signature Banyan Tree service standards,” he explains.

On its expansion plans, Ho says there will be more hotels and resorts, integrated resorts, as well as property development projects where appropriate.

“Next year, we look forward to the opening of Banyan Tree Tianjin, Banyan Tree Riverside and Banyan Tree North Bund in Shanghai; the integrated resort of Banyan Tree and Angsana Lang Co in Vietnam; and Banyan Tree Kerala, to name a few. Further afield, we have projects lined up in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean region.”

Ho: ‘Banyan Tree has always believed in being different from other hotel brands.’

Ho believes Banyan Tree's pioneering and can-do spirit has steered the company to many uncharted territories to earn its place as one of the industry leaders.

The group's first resort Banyan Tree Phuket, which opened in 1994, was the result of the successful rehabilitation of an abandoned tin mine in Laguna Phuket.

Today, Banyan Tree has over 30 hotels and resorts, close to 70 spas and 80 retail galleries and two golf courses.

As of end-2010, the total equity value of its investments around the world is in the region of US$1bil net of any debt.

The net asset value of Banyan Tree Holdings is around US$540mil and the total cash equity in the two Banyan Tree Hospitality Funds (for Indochina and China) is around US$450mil.

Ho discloses that Banyan Tree has around 30 projects in the pipeline and singles out China as the strongest growth region. It has a strong presence and pipeline of projects in China.

“Given the general economic climate in the world, our investments in the core regions of the Asia Pacific, including China, are performing reasonably well. Much of the downturn in our traditional European and Japanese markets has been mitigated by strong performance from China, where our brand is strong. We have around 10 marketing offices in China now,” he adds.

Ho says growth in the Asia Pacific is still quite stable and the new markets for the company include Vietnam, the Indian Ocean and India.

Flagship property

“We are looking to double our properties by 2015, and will be opening five to six hotels a year. This year alone, we opened Banyan Tree Macau, our newest and latest urban resort, and soon to be opened will be Angsana Hangzhou, our second resort in that city; Angsana Balaclava, our first property in Mauritius, as well as Angsana Laguna Phuket, our flagship Angsana property on the island with more than 400 rooms/suites, and exciting facilities for families, meetings and holiday makers,” Ho discloses.

Meanwhile, specific properties have been affected by local conditions such as Bangkok which was hit by riots last year and floods this year.

As for Europe, he says although the region is suffering the worst recession in many years, there are still opportunities to be found.

To tap on opportunities when they arise, Banyan Tree has established an operational, business development, and marketing office in London.

According to Ho, Banyan Tree has always believe in innovation in its products and designs “to be different than other hotel brands.”

Among its innovations include the all pool-villa concept, with the birth of Banyan Tree Phuket 17 years ago; the tropical garden spa concept; and being one of the largest spa operators in the world with its own Spa Academy that provides therapists with no less than 350 hours of training. At its urban resorts of Banyan Tree Seoul and Banyan Tree Macau, relaxation pools are installed in every suites.

The recently opened Banyan Tree Spa in Singapore, located on level 55 of Marina Bay Sands, features the concept of “an oasis in the sky” with therapists offering treatments that are signature to the Banyan Tree Spa experience.

Ho says Banyan Tree is also a strong supporter of corporate social responsibility initiatives and believes in working with and giving back to the community.

“We believe in a sense of culture and place, and I am interested in how our resorts can be an impetus for social-cultural and economic change for the local people,” he adds.

By The Star

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