Addition of properties in Bangkok and Phuket, expansion in Yangon on cards in run-up to AEC
Standing on a bank of the Chao Phraya River, Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok enjoys full occupancy, with various international travellers, despite this being low season.
Besides such good news for this five-star property, in an exclusive interview with The Nation, Savitri Ramyarupa, managing director of Chatrium Hotels and Residences, shared her vision for the next three years. She is planning to add two more properties, in Bangkok and Phuket, along with expansion of its existing property in Yangon, Myanmar.
This is an attempt to cash in on the expected influx of international business and leisure travellers to the region after the Asean Economic Community (AEC) takes effect in 2015.
Surrounded by a panoramic view of Charoenkrung area and the river from the 36th-floor executive lounge, Savitri told The Nation that Thailand still had high potential in terms of tourism compared with its neighbouring countries.
“Luckily, our country will gain advantage due to its strategic location at the heart of the Asean region. Once the AEC is fully implemented in two years’ time, this region with its large and strong consumer base will attract foreign investors. Meanwhile the culture-rich destinations will also lure international tourists,” Savitri said.
Bangkok will likely become a transit point both for business and leisure travellers in the region and might face decreasing lengths of stay, but other key tourist destinations such as Phuket and Chiang Mai will take up the slack.
To be well prepared for this change, Savitri said she already had a plan. In Bangkok, Chatrium will invest in a new five-star hotel in a prime location near Siam Paragon. Another luxury property will be built in Phuket near Surin Beach. Both new properties will accommodate guests with daily and long-stay services.
For the overseas market, Savitri stressed that Myanmar was still key for her company. In the heart of they country’s commercial capital, Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon offers 303 rooms, including 37 suites, for leisure travellers during peak season and business travellers off-season.
Since the political and economic reforms last year, a large number of international investors and tourists have been flocking into this neighbouring country, not just for business opportunities but also for new travel experiences.
To capitalise on further developments in Myanmar, the firm also plans to start a new phase of Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon with 100 new luxurious rooms located by the historic Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake.
However, the top executive declined to disclose the total cost of the new investments.
“China is also a potential market for future expansion,” she hinted.
City Realty, parent company of Chatrium Hotels and Residences, has developed several condominium projects for sale in Jia Ting, about 40 minutes away from central Shanghai.
“This is our first step into China. We might bring the Chatrium brand into this country in the future,” Savitri said.
Apart from hotel expansion, building awareness of the five-year-old Chatrium brand is an important task for Savitri.
To fulfil the brand’s promise of “A Remarkable Experience”, the hotel has emphasised key values it calls “ETHOS”, which consist of Engagement, Teamwork, Honesty, Ownership and Satisfaction. “All of our guests must experience these values via our staff, so we are training them via a series of workshops,” she said.
Another key strategy is customer-relationship management, with Chatrium Point Plus as a loyalty programme.
Currently, Chatrium Hotels & Residences operates four properties in Bangkok and one hotel in Yangon, totalling 1,800 rooms. Those in the Thai capital are Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok, Emporium Suites by Chatrium, Chatrium Residence Sathon Bangkok and Chatrium Residence Riverside Bangkok.
Though Savitri is a member of the Sophonpanich family, a leading financial and business family, and a daughter of Chatri Sophonpanich, she prefers to keep a low profile.
She graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree from Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Economics from Barnard College, Columbia University, New York.