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Chris Bailey, Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, Centara Hotels & Resorts

Chris Bailey, Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, Centara Hotels & Resorts talks to Luc Citrinot about the Group's future plans.

We met with Chris Bailey, the Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing of Centara Hotels & Resorts, at his office in Centara Grand in Bangkok and talked to us about the expansion plans of the Group, the concept behind the localized service they offer and the position of their Spa brands.

TravelDailyNews: Centara Hotels and Resorts is moving fast on the international front. Can you tell more about your expansion strategies?

Chris Bailey: We are expanding at extremely rapid pace with 20 hotel projects in the pipeline or in construction. Our target is to double our portfolio from 55 properties to 100 by the year 2017. We now have two properties in Sri Lanka and will grow from one to three properties in the Maldives as well as in Mauritius. We also target China with Shanghai to be soon opened. And of course, we continue to watch opportunities to develop our brand in ASEAN countries. The completion of the ASEAN Single Market (AEC) by the end of 2015 pushes clearly to have at least one hotel in each member country. We definitely look at Singapore, Jakarta, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as Kuala Lumpur.

TDN: Are Myanmar and Europe part of your expansion plans?

Chris Bailey: Myanmar benefits today from years of frustration for travellers and investors when the country was completely isolated. Its recent opening is pushing demand up. We looked already in the past to be present in Myanmar but the lack of infrastructure made it difficult. However, we think now that the country offers tremendous opportunities. Regarding Europe, it is true that acquiring properties is rather an expensive move. However, as an international chain, we need to be present also as we want our clients to touch and feel the unique service of Centara Hotels. A presence in London and Paris is then a great support to our own brand and product and it gives us more credibility in those markets. We are really looking to have a presence in both capitals.

TDN: How is Centara positioned as a brand? Do you play with the “Thainess” of your company?

Chris Bailey: We fully recognize our roots and our Thai heritage. However, we definitely do not want to turn our hotels into pure Thai products. We prefer to express our “Thainess” in a more subtle way. I believe that we instill the Thai art of hospitality that makes Thailand such a successful destination. But at the same time, we blend it with local cultures. We have to take into consideration the fact that education, cultures are different in all the countries we are now present. Above all, we want our staff to feel pleased to deliver a service. This should then be considered as a personal success to make guests happy.

TDN: What are the plans for new brands?

Chris Bailey: We are now looking at developing both Centra and Cosi hotels. Centra is positioned as a three to four star product with stylish accommodation, while COSI Hotels is designed for cost-conscious travellers who mostly do all their own bookings on-line and who are searching for pocket-friendly accommodation prices.The first COSI Hotel is projected to open in 2015 and we plan to have at least 30 operational by 2020.

TDN: Will your spa brands Cenvaree and Cense have more autonomy?

Chris Bailey: It is true that most of our recent spa development was linked to hotel facilities. But we see spa business growing on its own and we are looking to franchise more spas or open our own facilities in many places around the world. It would be also a good way to introduce to guests our Centara brand.

Luc Citrinot

Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.