Bangkok’s New Luxury Hotels Break The US$300 Glass Ceiling
21 April 2019
For hotel owners and operators one in Southeast Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past decade has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set.
Despite soaring sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economic profile, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.
Have we reached the tipping point?
I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.
What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.
While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provide a bespoke appeal.
Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101-key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.
So, what about rates?
On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at MahaNakhon.
With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.
As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push ADR’s. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.
Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?
To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rate, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.