Soon after welcoming back Markland Blaiklock into their ranks in the newly formed role of deputy CEO, Centara announced significant expansion plans.
The company plans to expand its current portfolio, doubling the number of properties it operates via new investments and management agreements. It aims to become more prominent in Southeast Asian markets, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East, while expanding its footprint into East Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The company will also develop and expand new brands, such as COSI, to fill gaps in its hotel and resort portfolio.
The company will also identify and pursue new business opportunities outside its historic hotel and resort core – branded residences for example.
Centara will strengthen its core infrastructure, including operating platforms, technology, and reputation.
The first phase of Centara’s Deira Islands project is a 600-room, four-star family resort and waterpark. There are also plans for two properties connected to Deira Mall on the island
All in all, the company aims to double its revenues by 2022, it announced late last year.
TTN caught up with the man of the hour, Centara deputy CEO Markland Blaiklock on one of his Dubai visits earlier this year for more insight into the brand’s aggressive expansion plans. “Right now, we have about 60 properties and we will be growing that to 130 by 2022 – that’s an increase of 70 hotels.
“We also launched our affordable lifestyle brand in Koh Samui called COSI and we plan to develop around 40 of them over the next five years. Most of the development will be for the COSI brand – all in Thailand – and once we have that critical mass in Thailand, we will be looking to offer it for franchise outside Thailand in places like China.
“But the key focus of our development is in Asian Countries, The Indian Ocean and now in the Middle East. We do have a hotel in Oman that we opened in May last year and doing well. We have two properties in Qatar and we have our Deira Islands project in Dubai, which is a joint venture with Nakheel. The first phase of that collaboration is a 600-room four-star Centara family resort, water park and themed around a magic carpet. Subsequently, there is a plan to add another two properties connected to the mall – a 200-key residences project and a 250-key hotel. The first phase will have its soft opening by start of World Expo October 2020 and then full opening by end of that year.
“In the Middle East, we are actually looking into the possibility of establishing our tech-savvy, affordable lifestyle brand, COSI brand in Morocco: in Marrakesh and Casablanca. But we also intend to launch a luxury brand and the inspiration for that is coming from some of our Centara Grand branded hotels. The first location for this will be Hua Hin, which is the old railway heritage hotel, which we plan to renovate next year and then position it at the luxury level. Similarly, the Centara Grand in Koh Samui needs a thorough renovation and then could then be repositioned as luxury.
“Right now in Doha, we have two properties: the first one is residences and suites, which will be a five-star Centara and the second one will be a luxury product, the name of which isn’t final yet. It’ s been launched but we are hoping for it to be fully open by end of second quarter.”
Blaiklock tells TTN, “We also want to get into the wellness retreat business. We have two villa products in Thailand, one in Phuket and one in Koh Samui, and the idea is to renovate these with a view to offering three-days, five-days or seven-days wellness packages and for that, we are looking for a partner who has expertise in that area.
“We see the Middle East as an important market. Last year, our meetings business was a little bit slow because we were observing a period of mourning on the passing of our king, so lots of activities didn’t happen. This year has kicked off to a great start, in fact, our flagship property in Bangkok – The Centara Grand Central World – had a record month in its history this January.
* With inputs from Kim Thomson
* Centara Hotels & Resorts is available on stand AS2150
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