Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mövenpick eyes Asia as its next destination

Mr Andreas Mattmuller, Senior Vice President Middle East & Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & ResortsLeading European hotel brand, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is making its long-awaited expansion into the Asia-Pacific region. With one resort under its belt in Phuket – it rebranded a 350-room hotel on Karon Beach – the group has announced a new resort development on Sentosa, Singapore.

Its current focus on Asia-Pacific comes at a time when the group feels it has solidified its position enough in the Middle East.

"Our strategy is to develop our brand in clusters rather than dilute all over the world. We have developed our brand in the Middle East from 16 hotels five years ago to 30 in operation. We have a further 18 hotels under construction and another 10 projects in the pipeline," said Mr Andreas Mattmuller, Senior Vice President, Middle East & Asia for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.

"Most key strategic destinations are covered in the Middle East and we now wish to focus on the Asia-Pacific region and continue our expansion in a strategic fashion while at the same time continuing to opportunistically evaluate other projects."

It opened a regional office in Bangkok at the start of this year. "We shall further expand our operation in Asia with the appointment of a development director to continue to strengthen and build on our growth in line with the signing of additional management agreements," said Mr Mattmuller, who lived in Singapore for a few years as General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental.

He said that the group would step up development efforts in key strategic locations in Asia, targeting both city and resort destinations. "Our brand awareness in traditional European and other source markets is very strong and we maintain excellent relations with the travel trade and our global corporate accounts."

Targeting domestic travel with a strong brand

Mr Mattmuller also believes that the cluster development approach will allow the company to capitalise on domestic travel and "will hopefully also bring us additional hotels in India and China, both of which are huge countries with strong domestic markets".

He said that he was not perturbed by the fact that Mövenpick is a rather late entrant into Asia, considering the number of global brands that have already taken root in the region.

"We haven’t entered the Asian market until now because we wanted to focus on doing this right. We have successfully managed to build very strong brand awareness in the Middle East within a relative short period of time and we intend to repeat this success in Asia with additional hotels in the future.

"The tourism industry continues to grow and in many countries such as India we see a strong middle class of people emerging. Business travel also continues to expand during our times of globalisation and there is definitely space for new hotels and new brands in the Asia region. A new, distinctive brand always adds some spice to those groups that have been around for many years.

"One of our major strengths lies in our relationships with our owners. We are known as an efficient and trustworthy brand simply because of the qualities of our people and our vast experience, and of course delivery of results. We believe that our relationships with our owners are extremely important and we consider this as key to our success."

Moving in on Sentosa at the right time

Mr Mattmuller said the group was excited about entering Singapore. "Sentosa's position as a destination within Singapore will be strengthened as a result of the various tourism and casino projects under way. Sentosa is one of Singapore's key areas together with Orchard Road and the Marina area. There will be other new hotel brands being developed on Sentosa Island which will add value to the destination.

"Our resort will be very different because the main wing dates from 1940 making this a heritage building. There will be a very modern extension blending in with this traditional building which will also undergo major renovation. Our hotel will be unique and this is what will differentiate us from the other projects."

Mövenpick’s expertise: Middle East and North Africa, with Swiss flair

Mövenpick is no novice to the resort business. In addition to managing city and airport hotels, it also operates large resorts in many countries. In the Middle East and North Africa, it currently operates some large resort properties in Egypt, namely: El Gouna; El Quseir; and Taba; and the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea in Jordan; Morocco; Tunisia; Mauritius; Zanzibar; Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

"Some of our resorts have large conference centres and we have hosted many large international events such as the World Economic Forum being held for the fourth time this year at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea," said Mr Mattmuller.

As for what makes Mövenpick different and unique from other hotel brands, Mr Mattmuller said: "It is one of the leading hotel companies in Europe. It is also a strong, ubiquitous brand – a synonym for quality, hospitality and value. Worldwide, the brand also stands for market leadership, creativity and innovation. The name Mövenpick is associated with traditional Swiss hospitality but also with a pioneering spirit.

"The qualities which set Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts far apart from its competitors in the chain hotel sector include warm and genuine hospitality with a special Swiss touch, uncompromising product and service quality, excellent gastronomy and extremely well-trained, highly motivated teams."

Mövenpick, which is owned by Holding (66.7 %) as well as the Kingdom Group (33.3%), currently has over 80 hotels existing or under construction. It is aiming for 100 hotels by 2010.

Source : STB
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