Guocoland set to enter hotel scene with Thistle brand

By BUSINESS TIMES

The property arm of Hong Leong Group is building a five-star hotel in Damansara Heights, sprawling over 3.45ha, with 250 rooms at an investment cost of some RM800,000 per room.

GUOCOLAND (Malaysia) Bhd (1503), the property arm of conglomerate Hong Leong Group, is ready to enter the Kuala Lumpur hotel scene by building a RM200 million five-star hotel in Damansara Heights.

To be ready in 2011 or 2012, the hotel will form part of the Damansara City integrated development comprising retail, luxury condominiums and office towers.

Managing director Paul Poh said that the hotel, located next to the Menara Millenium, is likely to carry the group’s own hotel brand called Thistle.

Thistle is part of Guoman Hotel Management (UK) Ltd, a unit of GuocoLeisure Ltd. Both companies are part of the Hong Leong Group.
The proposed hotel, sprawling 3.45ha, will have 250 rooms, with an investment cost of some RM800,000 per room.

Poh was speaking to reporters to introduce the UK hotel brand’s maiden foray outside of its homeland. There are 34 Thistle hotels in the UK.

Meanwhile, Guocoland is in the midst of renovating two of its existing hotels in the country for RM50 million to be rebranded as a five-star Thistle.

Sixty per cent of the budget will go towards upgrading the Hyatt Regency Johor Baru, and the balance on Guoman Port Dickson. Upon completion, both will be renamed as Thistle Johor Baru and Thistle Port Dickson Resort, respectively.

The two hotels will be closed for six months and will reopen in mid-2009.

Poh, who expects the return on investment from the two hotels to take between four and five years, said the hotels’ contribution to the group’s revenue will improve after the upgrade and rebranding.

Both hotels, with an estimated net book value of RM270 million, are expected to contribute about 37-40 per cent towards the group’s revenue and net profit.

Previously, contributions from both hotels were close to 30 per cent.

For the year ended June 30 2008, Guocoland made RM41.24 million in net profit on revenue of RM120.13 million.

Thistle Johor Baru general manager Philip Skitch said that in the first year of operations, the hotel hopes to fill up 70 per cent of its 381 rooms, and garner an average room rate (ARR) of between RM200 and RM250 per night.

Thistle Port Dickson hotel general manager Dean Rossilli, meanwhile, hopes the 251-bedroom hotel will be able to more than double the occupancy to 65 per cent and is looking forward to achieving an ARR of between RM185 and RM225 per night in the first year.

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