The hospitality giant signs up for eight new hotels in one go, spotlighting Thailand’s changing eastern seaboard.
An industrial zone just a few years ago, Thailand’s eastern seaboard is emerging as a business, investment and tourist destination, partly driven by the government’s push for an Eastern Economic Corridor to connect with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.
InterContinental Hotel Group’s latest signings reflect this optimism, TTG Asia reports, with “one momentous signing” to develop eight hotels in Thailand with more than 2,000 rooms, half of which will be on the eastern seaboard.
The multi-brand deal with Pattaya-based property firm Ratanakorn Asset consists of new-builds and one conversion across the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites brands, boosting IHG’s portfolio in the country from its current 24 hotels open and 14 under construction.
First to open will be the Holiday Inn Express Pattaya Koh Larn, a direct conversion on a small island off the Pattaya coast. The remaining seven will be new-builds, also on Koh Larn as well as in Pattaya, Rayong, Kao Lak, Phuket and Koh Samui, to open between 2022 and 2027.
“Thailand is like a tennis ball – it always bounces up very fast after a crisis,” Clarence Tan, IHG’s managing director for South-East Asia and Korea, tells TTG Asia.
“We’re now seeing the rise, and with continued stability and development into EEC – the opening of the Utapao airport and the expansion of [Bangkok’s] Suvarnabhumi Airport, etc. – this will be a nice ride to be on.”
He added: “Last year was the tipping point where for the first time revenue growth was faster than the tourism growth, and that portends well for everyone in the tourism sector.”
Ratanakorn Asset’s Jugkarut Ruangratanakorn also expressed his enthusiasm for Thailand’s east. Pattaya suffers from a “negative image” due to its association with sex tourism but is now evolving and gentrifying with a new crop of hotels, lifestyle amenities and attractions to lure more upscale travellers, families and MICE groups, he said.