Centara Hotels & Resorts will be opening two new properties in the Middle East this quarter, The Centara Grand West Bay Hotel Doha in Qatar and Centara Muscat Hotel in Oman. Centara has also entered into a joint venture with Dubai developer Nakheel to create a 550-room resort on its Deira Islands complete with its own waterpark, set to open further down the line.
This year will see Centara further expand its sales network outside the UAE to cover Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabian markets, as part of the brand’s expansion activities in the region. Centara currently operates more than 30 international sales offices.
This growth will be complemented with openings in Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. Meanwhile, on the home front, the brand will continue work on Coast, the brand’s beach club development throughout Thailand and by this quarter it will have locations in Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Hua Hin. Krabi will join the network in the third quarter of this year. Centara Grand at CentralWorld, in the heart of Bangkok, will continue its upgrade programme.
TTN spoke to recently appointed chief operating officer Chris Bailey for more insight into the brand’s growth in the region. “Like most in a similar role, I want to ensure that our business operates efficiently and effectively for all stakeholders. I will relook at our business process to ensure that we continue to drive best practice and I want to ensure we are an employer of choice in a fast-changing hospitality environment.”
There are some Thai brands that have already established themselves in the Gulf region. “Each of us have our own ways of taking our unique Thai heritage and culture to the marketplace. Thailand is synonymous with and world renowned for quality hospitality and we feel we need to take the essence of this and blend it with local cultures and traditions to deliver a seamless experience.
“We hope our twist on this is unique and that our upcoming guests will enjoy just as much as others have in our other international locations.”
Being at the helm of one of Thailand’s top hotel chains and an experienced destination management expert, he shares some inbound travel trends he notices in the country and the wider South East Asia. “Product, value, convenience and a willingness to wait until the last moment for the best option is a growing trend that needs to be embraced by hospitality providers,” says Bailey.
“More and more of our guests want to be entertained as opposed to being accommodated – by this I mean they expect an experience starting with the booking process, which needs to be informative, fast and efficient through to the stay, which needs to offer wide options to enthral.
“We see a shifting source market and demographic that brings with it different ideas in terms of expectation, length of stay and the areas that are important to them – less weather and pool, and more food and activities,” says Bailey.
Interestingly, Centara has a strong retail heritage and its popularity with the Middle East guests can only become stronger due to this association with shopping.
The holding company, Central Group of Companies, and its retail arm recently purchased The KaDeWe, Oberpollinger and Alsterhaus stores in Germany (in partnership with SIGNA) to complement its European structure in Italy and Scandinavia.
“We would like to think there is positive synergy between our group business units and that we can all help each other in the common goal to deliver exceptional experiences and services to our guests.
“However, I think there is still more room for us to do this with our sister retail business and future activities soon to be communicated will demonstrate this further.”
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.