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Monday, April 25, 2011

Marriott plans 2 more hotels in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Hotel management company Marriott International Inc, which operates the Marriott, Renaissance and Ritz Carlton, is scheduled to open two new hotels in Malaysia by the middle of next year, bringing the total number of hotels here to nine.

These two new openings, one in Johor and another in Sarawak, will see the group increase its room inventory in Malaysia by 400 from about 3,000 now.

Area vice-president for India, Malaysia, Maldives and Australia Rajeev Menon said that it will open a 300-room Renaissance in Bandar Baru Permas Jaya in the second quarter of next year.

The group also targets to open a 101-room Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa by mid-2012. This property, previously the Royal Mulu Resort, is located next to the Mulu National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is now undergoing a complete makeover.

The seven operational hotels in Malaysia now are Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Renaissance Kota Baru in Kelantan, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Renaissance Melaka Hotel, Miri Marriott Resort & Spa and its franchised property, Putrajaya Marriott Hotel.

Meanwhile, chief operating officer for Asia Pacific Craig S Smith said Malaysia is an important market for the group, especially since intra-Asian travel is big.

As more of its hotels open in India, China and the Middle East, more guests are familiar with the brand. Thus, loyalty helps to fill up hotel rooms in other countries too.

He added that its hotels in Malaysia will benefit from the growth in India, China and the Middle East.

The group, which experienced a tough 2009 for its Malaysian hotels, saw revenue per available room grow by a tenth in 2010 compared to the previous year.

"This year has started strong, (our) Kuala Lumpur hotels are doing well but it is too early to say how the situation in the Middle East will reflect in Malaysia this year," Rajeev said.

"We expect similar growth or partially more growth in 2011 compared to 2010," he added.

By Business Times

A Bulgari hotel in Malaysia possible, says Marriott COO

MARRIOTT International Inc, which operates the luxurious Bulgari Hotels & Resorts brand, does not discount the possibility of hotel opening in Malaysia.

Currently, there are only two Bulgari hotels in the world; a city hotel in Milan, Italy, and a resort villa in Bali, Indonesia.

"There have been people asking about it (Bulgari) but there is nothing serious.

"There must be a business plan that can support a Bulgari as it is a very expensive hotel to build," chief operating officer (COO) for Asia Pacific Craig S Smith said, adding that it does not discount that Malaysia could probably carry such a brand. "Such a hotel would fit into a market that has a niche clientele and easy air access".

Location, Smith said, is paramount in considering the opening, and along with it, the specifications and partnership.

The Bulgari in Milan is a city hotel with 58 rooms, while the resort in Bali has some 59 villas. The next Bulgari will open in London in 2012.

The Bulgari Hotels & Resorts was introduced in 2001 and it is a joint venture between jeweller and luxury goods retailer Bulgari SPA and the Luxury Group - a division of Marriott International that also manages the The Ritz-Carlton hotels.

In Malaysia, there are currently six hotels managed by the Marriott group and one on franchise. On future openings, Smith said: "At any one point of time, we are discussing with a dozen (parties)."

Marriott, which is now predominantly city-based, is now keen to look at more resort hotels in places like Penang, Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu. Resorts destination derives higher rates.

The group, which has over 20 brands, also manages the Courtyard by Marriott, EDITION Hotels and Marriott Executive Apartments, elsewhere in Asia.

By Business Times

OCBC offers loan for London homes

OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Bhd is offering its customers a new mortgage loan facility, to finance the purchase of residential properties in prime sections of central London, United Kingdom.

Head of consumer financial services OCBC Bank, Charles Sik said with the introduction of the new scheme, customers can now invest in London properties with peace of mind, knowing that their loan facility is fixed in the ringgit, mitigating forex risks.

"Our goal for financing products is to offer as many bespoke loans as possible to our customers. London property prices are certainly on an uptrend and we think it’s a really good time now to capitalise on this," he said in a statement today.

According to OCBC Bank currency economist Emmanuel Ng, foreign exchange rate fluctuations are key to determining the purchase of an overseas property and the ringgit is expected to remain supported against the British Pound Sterling (GBP)on a structural basis.

"The ringgit sits comfortably within the Asian growth sphere and is also underpinned by net positive foreign capital inflows into the region, as well as a favourable balance of payments environment," he said.

The OCBC Overseas Property Financing facility offers a margin of financing of up to 75 per cent and a loan tenure of up to 30 years or up to the time a person turns 65, whichever is earlier.

By Bernama

World's tallest building developer, Burj Khalifa's 1Q profits down 45%

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The Dubai developer of the world's tallest building says its first-quarter profit dropped 45 percent as it handed over the keys to far fewer new homes than it did a year earlier.

Emaar Properties posted quarterly earnings of 421 million dirhams ($114.7 million) Sunday, down from 760 million ($207.1 million) in the same period a year earlier.

The company says it handed over about 270 housing units during the quarter, compared with more than 1,300 in the first quarter of last year.

Revenue slumped 31 percent to 1.98 billion dirhams ($539.5 million).

Emaar is the developer of the more than half-mile high Burj Khalifa. It also runs Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping center in the Middle East.