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One more IHG brand enters the APAC market starting from Thailand – an interview with Raul Ortiz

Intercontinental Hotel Group announced the opening of two Staybridge Suites in Thailand in 2020. TravelDailyNews spoke with Mr. Raul Ortiz, Vice President, Global Brand Marketing, Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites Brands.

Raul Ortiz, Vice President, Global Brand Marketing, Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites Brands for IHG, talks to TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific about the plans of Intercontinental Hotels Group to open two Staybridge Suites in Thailand in 2020.

TravelDailyNews: IHG launches a new brand in Southeast Asia. Give us some more details about that.

Raul Ortiz: Staybridge Suites Bangkok Thonglor will be the first Staybridge Suites in Asia Pacific to open in 2020 in Bangkok. This 303-room property is located in one of the trendiest areas in Bangkok, situated along Bangkok’s main Sukhumvit Soi 55 road – 10 min walk from Thonglor BTS station. Thonglor is a popular area amongst locals, expats and tourists as it has selection of trendy dining options and close to high-end malls including EmQuartier and Emporium.

The project is developed by Origin Property Public Company Limited in association with Nomura Real Estate Development Company Limited.

Longer term we have another Staybridge Suites opening on Siracha in 2022 and excited about the potential to expand the brand further in Thailand and across the region.

TDN: Staybridge Suites is not just another brand in Asia, it is a new product which stands between serviced apartments and hotels. What new offering do you bring to this part of the world? Which are the unique selling points of Staybridge Suites?

R.O.: Staybridge Suites is an all-suites upscale extended stay brand that provides guests a break from the travel norm; a welcoming, distinctive stay experience for guests who are spending extended periods away from home.

The brand strives to create a unique and authentic sense of belonging and for guests to feel comfortable, like a member of a community, not just a guest, or a room number.

The brand is all about offering our guests flexibility – giving the option to use the space on their terms but also with elevated essentials with complimentary hot breakfast and complimentary self-served coffee and tea all day.

We want our guests to get the opportunity to socialise and connect while travelling. We have decided to put in place, three times a week The Social – an early evening reception with complimentary beverages and nibbles to bring guests together to mingle and socialize amongst themselves

We understand our guests are seeking a residential-style hotel that supports their varied needs while away from home for extended periods. We aim to bring them a sense of belonging while travelling. 

At Staybridge Suites Bangkok, one of the unique features is the Sento, a communal Japanese bath-house, but also a rooftop swimming pool for guests to enjoy a panoramic scenery of the sunrise, a jacuzzi and sauna.

Suites will be spacious where our guests can work or relax, with a variety of amenities and support giving them the ability to thrive professionally and personally.

The contemporary design of the hotel will be thoughtfully curated to meet working, relaxing and resting needs of our guests. 

Suites will include studios and one and two-bedroom suites, providing a good sense of space while keeping it light, bright and airy. All our suites will feature premium bedding, fully equipped kitchen, refrigerator, cooking hob, laundry machine and dryer. Bathtubs and balcony will also be available in one and two-bedroom suites.

Our guests will also be able to connect and relax at the Living Room and the Den as well as at the branded rooftop bar and or the café located at the ground floor.

The hotel will feature all-day facilities including a fitness room, The Pantry (a convenience corner) and business facilities to cater to the needs of our guests. 

Today, there are 282 Staybridge Suites globally and 190 hotels in the pipeline and Thailand will welcome five hotels within the next few years.

TDN: What is your target clientele in terms of profile and in terms of geographical markets?

R.O.: We expect to welcome Japanese and Korean business travellers who are seeking a residential-style hotel that supports their varied needs while away from home for extended periods. 

Due to the popular location of Thonglor we are also expecting families and couples travelling for leisure on a getaway.

TDN: Suites is a very unique product in the hospitality industry and I suppose that it requires new skills from the team who will run this product in Asia. Will your existing team in Thailand manage it or you will need a different team? If so, then what skills this team should have and how easy you can find them in Thailand?

R.O.: IHG has extensive experience running Suites products. Staybridge Suites has been in the market for more than two decades. IHG also have other all-suites brands like Candlewood Suites and the recently launched Atwell Suites.
Our property in Bangkok will be managed by a team of experienced hoteliers, and hiring will be in place to place the right talents who embodies the ability to bring to life the brand promise and enable community building amongst guests.

Globally, we partner with TMI, an expert in customer experience to develop a new set of service training programme and our colleagues in the new Bangkok hotel will be trained to receive and host guests the Staybridge Suites way.

TDN: What is the level of investment for the two coming properties and which are your future plans for Thailand and the region?

R.O.: IHG has a long history in Thailand and we currently have 28 hotels open across 6 brands. Our pipeline of 31 hotels will see us doubling our portfolio in the next 3-5 years, of which 3 are new brands that will make their debut into South East Asia – Staybridge Suites, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and voco Hotels. 

Building on our successes in Thailand and continued strong relationships with our owners, we will continue to expand our footprint and seek opportunities in the right location with the right partner.

TDN: Hoteliers in Thailand complain that the competition pushes the rates down and make Thailand a cheap destination. But still, Thailand is your launching market for many of your brands. Remind us which other brands you launched here and why Thailand? 

R.O.: We have a successful history of launching new brands into South East Asia in Thailand including the Holiday Inn Express launched in 2012 with Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam and Hotel Indigo launched in 2015 with Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road.

Our strong infrastructure and scale in Thailand gives us a solid foundation, and allows us to continue to grow our business. The combination of the right partners and the trust in the power of our brands provides the best conditions to grow and launch new brands. With rising international arrivals into Thailand and Bangkok is the most visited city in the world, Thailand continues to be an attractive market for travellers, investors and IHG. 

We are excited to debut our new brands into the region in the next two years with Kimpton Bangkok, Staybridge Suites Bangkok Thonglor and voco Bangkok Sukhumvit 11.

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