New World Development unit may manage four more Pentahotels
The group hopes to take advantage of the increasing number of tourists visiting the city
New World Development's hotel management arm, Rosewood Hotel Group, is in talks to run four more hotels under its Pentahotel brand in Hong Kong and Macau.
Sonia Cheng, chief executive of Rosewood Hotel and daughter of New World Group chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun, said Pentahotel, a brand that caters to younger travellers, would expand in cities in Asia and the mainland over the next five years.
The group will open its first Hong Kong hotel property, the HK$900 million New-York-loft-style Pentahotel, in San Po Kong today, in a bid to capitalise on the government's plan to transform Kowloon East into the city's second business district. Cheng said Hong Kong could support four Pentahotels because it was a 'gateway city'.
"We are exploring opportunities in Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, Central, Sheung Wan and the Western districts. We hope to have two hotels in Kowloon and two on Hong Kong Island. Macau is our next target as it is becoming a favourite holiday destination."
The 32-year-old Cheng is the granddaughter of property tycoon Cheng Yu-tung, who stepped down as chairman of New World Development in August last year.
Rosewood Hotel, formerly known as New World Hospitality, owns 40 hotels under three brands in 14 countries. It operates 16 hotels in Europe and Asia under its Pentahotel brand, with a target to expand to 80 globally by 2020.
The company has opened Pentahotels in Shanghai and Beijing. It will open one in Guiyang with 197 rooms next year and another in Shenyang with 390 rooms in 2015.
Cheng said the firm's expansion plans would not be affected by the postponement of the proposed US$800 million listing of NW Hotel Investments by its parent company.
Rosewood will focus on hotel management, which was not a capital-intensive business, she said. Tourist arrivals in Hong Kong hit a record last year, with the number of visitors increasing 16 per cent to 48.6 million. Some 70 per cent of them were from the mainland, and almost half of all visitors stayed overnight.
The growth continued this year, with 21.16 million visitors arriving in the city in the first five months of the year, up 13.2 per cent from last year, according to figures released by Hong Kong Tourism Board.
By comparison there are just 72,000 hotel rooms available at present, and the number of rooms is projected to grow 6 per cent to 76,600 by 2017, according to Tourism Board statistics.
Taking into account the 39 hotels whose completion dates are yet to be announced, the number of rooms available in the city will rise to almost 84,000.
"The transformation of East Kowloon into a central business district will certainly create strong demand for hotels as a growing number of multinational firms set up offices there," said Colliers International executive director Simon Lo Wing-fai.
"The increase in wealth on the mainland has led to mainland tourists developing new tastes. Ten years ago they did not mind staying in guest houses, as they preferred to save every dollar they could for shopping. But now young mainland professionals are more demanding when it comes to hotel accommodation," he said.
Andy So, general manager of Pentahotel Hong Kong, said the hotel would cater to both business and leisure travellers.
"A growing number of multinational corporates have moved to Kowloon East, and so we have got two clients who want to stay in our hotel for one year. They work in construction firms in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay," he said.
The hotel expects 70 per cent of its customers will be mainland tourists, he said, adding that the rest will be from Taiwan, Korea, and United States and Europe.
Taking into account Pentahotel, he said the total number of rooms in the area would increase to about 2,700.