Fri, May 17, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Lai Lai plans a face-lift

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Lai Lai Sheraton Hotel (來來飯店) will began plans to give its aging complex a major face-lift after new management takes over on June 1.

"We will definitely look into a large-scale renovation of the place once the transition is finished," said Josef Dolp, general manager of the hotel.

According to the Chinese-language Business Weekly magazine (商業周刊), new owner Tsai Chen-yang (蔡辰洋) was quoted as saying he plans to invest up to NT$1.6 billion over the next three to four years to refurbish the 20-year old facility.

On April 30, Tsai, head of My Humble House Group (寒舍集團), inked a deal to take over management rights of the hotel from Chang Hsiu-cheng (張秀政) of the Hone Shee Group (鴻禧集團).

Established in 1981 by Tsai's elder brother, Tsai Chen-nan (蔡辰男), the five-star hotel's ownership and management rights returned to the Tsai family after seven years.

In 1995, the Tsai family -- owners of Taiwan's largest insurance group, Cathy Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽), was forced to sell the property after other business interests collapsed.

One industry watcher said refurbishing the Lai Lai is absolutely necessary.

"To compete with other new hotels in Taipei, the Lai Lai needs a face-lift as soon as possible," said Lee Shao-pin (李少彬), chief director at the Taipei City Hotelier Union (台北飯店公會).

Hotels generally undergo refurbishment every three to five years, Lee said.

"Guests and travelers like to stay in bright, new places," he said.

Location is also a problem for the Lai Lai.

With the city's business center long shifted eastward, the Lai Lai is far from most pedestrian conveniences, Lee said.

Both the Taipei World Trade Center and the Taipei's major shopping districts are on the east side of the city.

"However Taipei Sheraton is located on Taipei city's west side, far from current hot spots," Lee said.

But one Taipei resident said the Lai Lai is always very competitive.

"Without any doubt, every time my friends and customers come to Taiwan I recommend they stay [in the Lai Lai]," said Dick Adler, a foreign businessman who has lived in Taipei for more than 30 years.

While the Lai Lai is older in appearance compared to the Grand Hyatt or the Formosa Regent, its hospitality and service are very good, he said.

"As far as I know, the Lai Lai retains many loyal customers," Adler said.

The company reported NT$2 billion in sales last year, Dolp said.

"This year we will target the same amount of sales," he said, adding that the industry is currently experiencing a slump.

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