Waldorf Astoria pushes into Bangkok’s luxury hotel space

The much-anticipated Waldorf Astoria Bangkok officially opened its doors yesterday, the latest in a growing swathe of luxury hotels that have launched or launching soon in the Thai capital to tap the country’s robust inbound tourism sector.

The first Waldorf Astoria in South-east Asia and the fourth in Asia-Pacific – after Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu in China – the new hotel is the fruit of Hilton’s partnership with Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC), which is the property development arm of Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand conglomerate.

The hotel towers over neighbouring buildings in Bangkok’s Ratchadamri

MQDC’s CEO Visit Malaisirirat, speaking at the press conference yesterday, said the alliance marks “an important strategic move into ultra-luxury hospitality for the Thai property developer, which recently announced another mixed-use development in Bangkok’s Bangna district.

“We have been looking for flagships in South-east Asia for some time,” commented Alan Watts, Asia-Pacific president of Hilton. “Bangkok is one of the most competitive markets in Asia, and Waldorf Astoria will redefine luxury not only for Bangkok but also South-east Asia.”

But Waldorf Astoria is not the only luxury hotel brand that has come knocking on Bangkok’s doors. Even within its prominent Ratchadamri location, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok already calls The St Regis Bangkok its immediate neighbours, while the recently opened Park Hyatt Bangkok and Rosewood Bangkok (opening 2019) – both of which stand less than a kilometer away – are a constant reminder of the level of competition crowding Bangkok’s luxury hotel market, not to mention upcoming hotels like Capella Bangkok (4Q2018) and Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River (2019).

Hilton is, however, maintaining “an extremely bullish outlook” on Thailand, including the luxury segment, vice president, operations, luxury Asia-Pacific Daniel Welk told TTGmice. “Look at the number of arrivals coming into Bangkok, which hit 35 million last year and is expected to reach 38 to 39 million this year,” he said. The city itself is dynamic and offers amazing products, and the infrastructure is improving.”

Deluxe Bedroom

And if anything that growing competition has brought, it’s greater clarity for Hilton’s hotel brands, Welk stated. “The swim lanes are more defined now,” he said. “(Waldorf Astoria Bangkok) is Hilton’s ninth hotel in Thailand, and we’re well positioned to absorbed any new competition the market will bring.”

After Bangkok, Hilton has another three additional Waldorf Astoria hotels in the pipeline for Asia – the Maldives (opening February 2019), Bali and Jarkarta (both opening 2020).

Asia overall is a region of strong growth for Hilton’s luxury brands, revealed Martin Rinck, global head, luxury & lifestyle group. There are some 35 Conrad properties worldwide, and 12 out of 18 currently under development are located in Asia.

Canopy, the new lifestyle brand launched in 2017, is now Hilton’s “fastest-growing brand with 30 under development and Chengdu will be the first city in Asia to welcome the brand this year.

A new luxury brand, LXR, will debut this year-end as Hilton’s collection of independently established properties with their own identities.

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