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Hotel pioneer David Baffsky named `Asia Pacific Hotelier of 2003`

Accor celebrated two major milestones. The hotel group announced the opening of its 100th hotel in Asia,…

Accor celebrated two major milestones. The hotel group announced the opening of its 100th hotel in Asia, and its Chairman, Mr David Baffsky was named `Asia Pacific Hotelier of the Year`.

With over 20 years experience in hotel management, property and development and corporate investment, Mr Baffsky has pioneered Accor’s expansion in the Asia Pacific region. Since becoming Chairman of Accor Asia Pacific in 1993, he has grown the Asia Pacific network from 44 hotels to 210 today, with a further 24 scheduled to open over the next two years.

Growth in Asia has accelerated rapidly in the past three years, with the network expanding from 68 hotels in 2001 to the current 100.

Recognising this impressive achievement, leading property group Jones Lang LaSalle has named Mr Baffsky ‘Asia Pacific Hotelier of 2003’ for his “outstanding contributions of leadership, exceptional achievement and exemplary professionalism in the hotel industry”.

The award was presented today at the Asia Pacific Hotel Investment Conference held in Singapore. Over 300 delegates comprising CEOs, Managing Directors and CFOs of hotel owning and operating companies throughout the region attended the event.

Past recipients of the Asia Pacific Hotelier of the Year award were Mr Kwek Leng Beng (Executive Chairman, Hong Leong Group), Dr Hari Harilela (Chairman, The Harilela Group), Mr Richard Hartman (Managing Director, InterContinental Hotels Group, Europe, Middle East & Africa) and Mr Gwee Lian Kheng (President and Chief Operating Office, Hotel Plaza Limited).

Mr Baffsky said it was appropriate that the 100th hotel in Asia should be an Ibis hotel – Ibis Pekanbaru in Sumatra, Indonesia.

“Ibis has played a very important role in the development of the economy hotel sector in Asia,” he said.

“The brand has been a leader in providing quality accommodation at affordable rates, allowing the development of business and leisure travel in key centres around Asia. The recent openings of Ibis hotels in Seoul and Tianjin have highlighted the demand for such hotel products. Ibis Tianjin in China has recorded occupancies of 90% less than three months after its opening and we believe there is great potential for the brand across China.”

According to Mr Baffsky, Accor’s decision to expand its economy hotel division in Asia Pacific recognises the changing travel patterns in the region. These include a rapidly growing domestic travel market, the growth in intra-Asian business and leisure travel, and a worldwide move by corporations away from top-end accommodation in preference for mid-market and economy hotels.

“Accor, as in other parts of the world, offers in Asia a balanced portfolio of hotels, from five-star through to economy, and not relying solely on international business to fill our rooms and this distinguishes Accor from other groups,” said Mr Baffsky.

Mr Baffsky said that Accor’s hotels had so far performed strongly in 2004, with figures for April highlighting the recovery from the same period in 2003, when SARS first began to affect the industry.

In April 2004, Accor’s hotels in Asia recorded an average occupancy of 73% compared to 44% in April 2003. The group’s hotels in Hong Kong recorded 92% occupancy in April 2004 (compared to 43% in April 2003), China 79% (41% in April 2003) and Singapore 80% (39% in April 2003).

“Global and regional tourism is still a little sensitive but we remain optimistic and believe that Accor has the range and style of hotels to perform effectively, even in difficult conditions,” said Mr Baffsky.

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