FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

July 13 2010

 

HPL. Today a hotel group.

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ROM time to time, HPL operates like a regular hotel group, but usually reverts to being a real-estate operation when opportunities to buy and sell interfere with the hotel management business.

Currently, the hotel side is in the ascendant, meaning that some moves make hotel marketing sense rather than pure real-estate sense.

A key indicator was the conversion of the group’s owned Orchard Meridien hotel in Singapore into a Concorde after the management agreement with Starwood expired in October 2008. The parent company gives out some of its hotels to manage, but this Orchard move indicates renewed support for HPL.

HPL also owns the Hard Rock hotel franchise for Asia except Japan. HPL management says that its development philosophy is the Concorde brandname for city-centre, corporate hotels, and HR for resorts. HR growth has been slow – about one hotel every five years – but locations have been poor, apart from the first, in Bali.

The second was in Pattaya, whereas it should have been in the other higher-standard Thai resort, Phuket. Then HPL announced plans to build in Port Dickson – which must have prompted HR franchisor management back in Florida to pull out their maps of Asia.

Although Port Dickson was on the drawing board for about five years, it has now mercifully been taken off, although the short-notice opening of a HR hotel in Penang in 2009 makes up for this in numbers.

Unfortunately, though, Penang is not a suitable HR destination either; a good destination would be the Maldives, where HPL actually has three resorts. Two are managed by Four Seasons, of which one opened for a few months in what was the group’s would-be Concorde Resorts division. The third is the Rihiveli, a 48-bunglaow resort in the south. This is in HPL’s now unbranded and uncoordinated resort division. Before, the Rihiveli was well supported by the French-market, and HPL has maintained this link.

There are others in this division – which is considered to have started with the Lakehouse in Cameron Highlands, close to Kuala Lumpur. Another is the Casa del Mar on Langkawi island in Malaysia. And a fourth, due this September, is the Casa del Rio -which, despite that name, will be in Melaka, Malaysia.

 

I believe that HPL’s 4-property non-branded resorts need a brandname. Making most sense would be a revival of the ‘Concorde Resort’. A move in this direction would confirm HPL’s continued commitment to its hotels as a hotel-not-real-estate business.

 

A CR brandname could also be applied to the Concorde Inn at Kuala Lumpur airport; the group’s only CI. If there are no plans for other CIs, the property’s resort-like atmosphere – unlike an airport hotel – would make it suitable to become a CR.

The Fox