Hotels. Waldorfull.

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Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.  

2006 December 11

Hotels. Waldorfull. 

Now there’s a thought. In Hong Kong, the Sino group owns the Conrad hotel – which is doing nicely (albeit only just back up to pre-1997 results) – as well as its own clutch of hotels. 

And down in Singapore, Sino runs its own hotel at the top of the market, the Fullerton – once a (nice?) post office, but I will not mention that. 

Life at the top for independent hotels that have been newly-created (ie those that don’t have a century of history behind them, like the Raffles) is usually tough – an unforgiving competitive commercial environment. 

My question is, will the Hilton Group try and gets its Waldorf=Astoria brandname attached to the Fullerton? (Despite the silly=name, Waldorf=Astoria has the backing of Hilton, particularly valuable in this segment of the market.) 

Is the fact that Sino’s hotel division is run by ex-InterContinental man, Daniel Desbaillets, an advantage or disadvantage? 


The Fox


Resorts. New life for Pattaya?

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FOXTROTS Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

2006 December 10

Resorts. New life for Pattaya? 

We thought
Hainan would become
Asia’s newest international resort. Now we are not so sure. Part of our feeling for
Hainan came from quality new hotels planned – Mandarin Oriental, etc.

But now Pattaya in
Thailand is doing the same – generated partly by the fact that
Bangkok’s new airport, due to open this autumn, is on the Pattaya side of the town, so resorts can be no more than one hour from the airport. That is a huge advantage.
 It will also prove to be a boost for existing Pattaya – probably continuing to attract the sun-and-sex demand from
Europe and elsewhere. And higher yield traffic will go to the new quality resorts.

But the question is also whether Pattaya will attract new traffic, take traffic from a tainted Phuket/southern
Thailand, or from a developing
Hainan. Certainly, it will have the best air access of all major and potential resorts –
Macau, Maldives,
Penang, Phuket.

If a nearby resort in the same country appears to offer the same or better attractions (access plus newer resorts) – in other words, Pattaya – that might make Phuket’s recovery slower. 

The resorts are: – Doubletree. Due late 2008; 358 rooms; part of Hilton Group, first in

 – Meridien. Due early 2009; 250 rooms; part of Starwood Group  – Sheraton. Open; 153 rooms; part of Starwood Group; current rate leader 

Others helping the image are Dusit’s hotel, HPL’s Hard Rock, Minor’s Marriott, and even Accor’s Mercure. 


Australia. Jetstar tries again.

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2006 December 5

Australia. Jetstar tries again.

Qantas has announced more of its plans for Jetstar. 

It is now clear that it is not replacing Australian, which simply stopped operating end June. Qantas says Jetstar “will be grown strongly” over the next three years, with Qantas targetting “premium business and leisure passengers” and Jetstar targetting “primarily leisure markets”. 

Looking hard to explain differences in a few words, Qantas adds that Qantas “provides all the benefits of a premium airline”, and that Jetstar is a “value-based” airline (so Qantas is not?) aiming for the delivery of “every day low fares” – whatever they are, unless it means “to deliver low fares every day”. 

But all this seems the start of another muddle. Jetstar ‘International’ targets a different market from Jetstar ‘Australia’, and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia (in which Qantas is only 45% owner) sits somewhere in the middle. How can a ‘Jetstar’ market image be built on this base? 

And JI’s choice of destinations (see Intelligence) raises questions.
Bali and Phuket are still problem destinations.
Honolulu might work despite being a longhaul, and no longer ‘exotic’ – but there is a wide range of accommodation, so ground prices may be right.

In response to our criticism of the announced route network, JI responds “We think that
Bali could be a significant growth market”.

Worse is JI’s ‘leisure markets’ target, even if only ‘primarily’. Qantas should have learned that this can be a risk from the failure of Australian Airlines. 

A route plan is simple. When possible, choose destinations that have potential for both inbound and outbound, business and leisure travellers – year round. On that basis, Jetstar should actually have chosen routes into
Hong Kong,
Shanghai, and
Singapore – at least.

Why did it not? Because, of course, that would risk taking passengers from Qantas. But if Jetstar ‘International’ is actually a lower-cost option to stop passenger loss at Qantas (its passenger loads are falling), then the change needs to be total. 

As we said about Australian (before its closure was announced): “AA’s continued operation may be at risk…but if Qantas gives up more routes in favour of AA, this could change the outlook altogether.” 

Alan Joyce, head of Jetstar (
Australia and International, but not
Asia), says that Jetstar and Qantas compete on some routes in
Australia, and will do the same on international routes.

And he adds he is looking at other route opportunities in
Asia, and that future plans include
Europe and the North American mainland.

“We have started with outbound markets. We will be looking at inbound markets from March 2007 – and we are setting up procedures to handle this.” 

We presume Qantas will eventually, probably soon, buy at least majority-if-not-full control of Jetstar Asia, although this is complicated in that Jetstar Asia is half-merged with another Singapore-based failure, Valuair. If this happens, we also presume that Jetstar Asia would be folded into JI. 

But probably just as likely is that Qantas will pull out of Jetstar Asia, explaining that it wants to concentrate on an Australia-based JI.  end

Berlin. Culture capital.

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Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

2006 November 20

Berlin. Culture capital.

When there was East and
West Berlin, the west was regarded as hedonistic – living for today because no-one was quite sure what tomorrow would bring.

When the socialist powers in east
Europe collapsed one by one, then left a unified
Berlin. No longer was it supported by the west German government. So it has steadily lost that carefree attitude, but it has gained confidence as it became once again the capital of united

We note that some authorities run around
Europe naming odd cities as the Culture Capital of the continent. (In 2007,
Luxembourg and
Romania’s Sinui; in 2008
Liverpool and

For me it is
Berlin. And ironically most is in the east and around the pride of what was
East Berlin – the street of Unter den Linden. During a recent weekend visit, I stayed at the Park Inn (a misnomer; it has 1000 rooms), right on Alexanderplatz, another part of the city being redeveloped.

My weekend was an opera on Friday, dinner in Hackerscher Markt on Saturday, and a recital on Sunday morning (with Daniel Barenboim no less) and sekt – both in the Staatsoper. In between a visit to the impressive newly-reopened Bode museum on the Museum
Island. And the DDR museum – on life as it was in
East Germany. Plus more restaurants and, of course, a stroll up Unter Den Linden to the Brandenburg Tor and the Reichstag. 

And in between, the imposing buildings of the Humboldt University and the State Library – all in beautiful buildings, and the churches just behind Unter den Linden. Past the Adlon hotel – a splendid hotel but now known more for its balcony over which Michael Jackson dangled his child, and for its general manager just departed after it was found he worked (well) for East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi. 

In fact, most of this was within an-albeit-longish walking distance.