International Property

New US$1.1 billion Taipei hotel looks to offer buzz to beat the lure of Airbnb

Investment fund Riant Capital says the hotel, to be jointly managed by two brands, will be ‘experiential’ while offering a guaranteed level of service that online shared accommodation does not have

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 8:21pm

A new US$1.1 billion hotel to be built in Taiwan’s capital Taipei will put the focus on user experience as it looks to deal with the growing threat to the traditional hospitality industry from private home rentals by Airbnb and similar platforms, according to its main investor.

Aaron Chan, chairman of real estate fund Riant Capital, said the Taipei Sky Tower, just a stone’s throw away from the city’s tallest building, Taipei 101, will be “experiential and exciting and at the same time consistent and operationally well run”.

“The online share economy and social media have changed the way we travel and the way we shop,” said Chan, who was formerly the head of North Asia operations at Citigroup Property Investors Asia.

“If hotels still think they are places for sleeping, they will be outdated,” he said. “The hospitality industry needs a dramatic change.”

The rise of private accommodation offered through Airbnb and other online platforms has put the traditional hotel industry on notice, but Chan said there was still room for innovative hotels that can offer a guaranteed standard of service.

“Travellers nowadays are tired of the conventional hotel experience, but are still unsure about the consistency of what online short-term lodgings offer, he said. “Yes, you can rent a nice house but the bed may be dirty.”

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The 46-storey, 500-room Taipei Sky Tower, due to be completed in 2020, will be managed by two Hyatt-branded luxury hotels: Park Hyatt Taipei and Andaz Taipei. It will create a potential 1,000 jobs in the city.

Park Hyatt will target guests who want a quiet and elegant atmosphere, while Andaz will cater for the younger generation. A dual-branded luxury hotel can share the resources like housekeeping and accounting, said Chan.

He said he believed the number of tourist arrivals in Taipei would be double that of today by 2020, when the hotel is scheduled for completion. He attributed the current number to capacity constraints at the island’s main airport, but the completion of a third terminal in 2020 would bring in more flights.

The number of visitors to Taiwan was 10.6 million in 2017, according to Taiwan Tourism Bureau data, dwarfed by Hong Kong ‘s 58.47 million in 2017 and Japan’s estimated 26 million between January and November 2017, according to data released by government respectively.

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Chan said the new hotel would not only redefine Taipei as Asia’s next top travel destination, but also would be an enormous business opportunity for the city’s luxury tourism industry, he said.

“There are just 10,000 registered rooms, making the room rate the second highest after Hong Kong in Greater China,” he said.

Aside from hotels, Chan sees opportunities in Taipei for real estate investment, with most prime buildings held by insurance companies who do not have the desire to redevelop them.

“We see asset management in Taipei as way behind that of Hong Kong and Singapore. It provides greater opportunities for us,” he said.

Riant currently manages US$1.5 billion of invested assets in North Asia. It has invested in a number of mixed-use and retail properties in Taipei, the Taiwanese city of Hsinchu and in the Japanese capital Tokyo.