The hotel-management company based in Singapore,SilverNeedle Hospitality Group is raising its business profile and looks to bigger role in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, by using Thailand as a base to expand its network in neighbouring nations.
Over the next five years, the group hopes to have 100 properties in Asia to operate under two concepts of city and luxury boutique hotels. And this year, it hopes to sign deals to operate eight to 10 properties, said Iqbal Jumabhoy, the group's chief executive officer.
In Southeast Asia alone, mainly in key destinations, it is projected to be managing at least 15 properties by 2016, according to its press release.
The group was founded a year and a half ago in Singapore by Nadathur Raghavan, an Indian investor. Its core focus is on mid-range to upscale hotels. It has different hotel brands in its portfolio, with its flagship Next Hotels. In Thailand, it plans to operate under three brands: Next, Chifley and Country Comfort.
Jumabhoy said the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia were among the fast-moving markets, providing a big business opportunity for the company. As well, SilverNeedle is looking at investing in other nations, especially Myanmar. However, it will wait and see how things develop in that newly opened-up nation to make sure that the investment climate is stable. China is in its focus as well.
Currently, the company has offices in Singapore, Bangalore, Sydney and Bangkok. Australia is its biggest market with 60 properties to manage. In Thailand, it operates three boutique hotels - Riva Surya and SilQ, both in Bangkok, and 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai. In Laos, it runs only one property, Kiridara Luang Prabang.
SilverNeedle does business in each country differently, depending on the market. In Australia, it runs the hotel business under three concepts: its own investment, management contracts, and leasing.
In Thailand, the firm will look for business opportunities for both city and boutique hotels. Jumabhoy acknowledged that competition here was fierce, but said there were opportunities to be found. Especially in Bangkok, it is hard to find good locations for the city hotel concept. For boutique hotels, though, potential here is large because this Kingdom offers a lot of attractive locations, coupled with friendly service and Thai food as magnets.
SilverNeedle's boutique concept is a small hotel of 58 rooms. It allows guests to enjoy a personal experience with local culture during their visit. At present, its clients in Thailand come from countries in the East Asia region, especially China.
Its city hotel concept will focus on people travelling for business purposes.