Weekend Property

Space between hotels and serviced apartments blurs as Hong Kong operators seek to meet changing demands

Some hotels are now offering apartment-style accommodation with self-catering facilities, while some serviced apartment operators are offering patrons a range of hotel-like facilities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 11:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 2:53pm

Savouring the cuisines of a different country is one of the joys of travelling, but not everyone wants to go out for every single meal. There are costs to consider: dining eats up more than 31 per cent of a business traveller’s daily spend, according to data from the United States.

Then there are the health aspects: eating and drinking, which go hand-in-hand with travel, regardless of whether you’re there for work or holidays, can stack on the weight. Frequent corporate travellers often prefer a quick bowl of cereal in the morning to a big buffet breakfast. Or they just want a light snack in the evening, following a business lunch.

Serviced apartments offer the option of preparing simple meals in your room, and with the well-stocked supermarkets now available all over Hong Kong, often a fridge and microwave are all you need. Most provide a gym to help burn the extra calories, and sometimes even organised exercise classes. But here’s the kicker: the majority of serviced apartments, governed by local law, have a minimum stay of one month. So if you’re only in town for a matter of days, only the few properties which do have a hotel licence can cater to those requirements.

Within the CHI-branded residences across Hong Kong, only one – CHI Residences in Yau Ma Tei (CHI 279) – can offer monthly or daily stays. The one-bedroom, family room or triple-room apartments give travellers their own fully-equipped kitchen, free Wi-fi, and use of self-service laundry facilities.

All suites in the luxury J Plus Hotel by YOO in Causeway Bay feature a kitchenette – complete with oven – and self-serve laundry facilities, along with a raft of home comforts including complimentary Wi-fi, and free use of a smartphone, including for making IDD calls to assigned countries. Its daily rate also includes a continental breakfast, afternoon cakes, and evening wine in the lobby, along with 24-hour coffee, tea, water, juices, and soft drinks.

The Eaton Residences, Wan Chai Gap Road in Wan Chai is also able to offer flexible short stays in suites with in-room with kitchen and laundry facilities. The property also has an outdoor terrace for guests to enjoy.

The demands of travellers have not so much changed – it’s more that there are other options available to them
Pilar Morais, executive director, CHI International

Pilar Morais, executive director, CHI International, says this trend, while relatively new for Hong Kong, is a sign of hotels blending into the serviced apartment space in order to capture more business.

“The demands of travellers have not so much changed – it’s more that there are other options available to them. So as operators, we try to cater to that,” Morais says.

But CHI Residences are apartments, not hotel rooms, she stresses. “We have created balanced living spaces perfectly suited to providing residents with the comfort of a true home away from home.” Today’s travellers are looking for more than just a standard hotel room, especially when they come with family, Morais adds.

“Like other CHI Residences, CHI 279 is only five minutes’ walking distance from an MTR station. It gives short-stay travellers convenient access to various parts of the city, and long term residents to their place of work as well.”

J Plus Hotel by YOO was originally designed by French design luminary Philippe Starck. In 2014, 10 years after its opening, the property was rebranded and refreshed with an extensive makeover by YOO, a protégé of Starck.

Vivian Chau, general manager of J Plus Hotel by YOO, said that her studios of 380 sq ft, and suites of 780 sq ft, are much larger than a typical Hong Kong hotel room, and each has carefully defined areas for the bedroom, living, kitchen and bathroom.

A hotel licence is “not easy to get” for a serviced apartment operator, due to the stringent requirements, Chau says. But the kitchen and laundry facilities are a bonus for guests, especially those travelling with children.

“Hong Kong is only one stop for many travellers who are going on to Singapore or China,” she adds. “They can’t carry a lot of luggage, so the self-serve laundry is popular.” At the same time, hotel laundry service and room-service dining are also provided for guests who prefer that option.

These apartment-style in-room facilities, coupled with free wine nightly and breakfast daily, both offered in the lobby, makes the property “very much in demand”. As a result, Chau says, J Plus Hotel by YOO enjoys around 90 per cent occupancy. “We have a high rate of return bookings,” she says.