Mon, Aug 27, 2012 - Page 13 News List

FEATURE: Grand Hyatt Taipei renovates amid rising tourism

TOURIST ATTRACTION:As the market leader, the luxury hotel sees itself as setting the standard for the industry, which is why it embarked on a multi-billion dollar renovation

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

People passing by the Grand Hyatt Taipei (台北君悅大飯店) in the past week or so may have been surprised that the hotel was closed.

The hotel, which resumed business on Friday, closed down for 11 days between Aug. 13 and Thursday to renovate the layout of all of its rooms.

One of the time-honored international tourist hotels in Taiwan, the Grand Hyatt Taipei said it planned to invest NT$3 billion (US$99.99 million) in the large-scale renovation plan.

“It [closing down the hotel] was unprecedented,” company marketing communications director Luanne Li (李佳燕) said by telephone.

Most hotel operators generally execute renovations floor-by-floor so the hotel can continuing operating during the refurbishment.

“But it was worth it to fully close the business this time, as we did not want the major demolition work to bother any of our guests,” Li said.

Li said the hotel will spend the next two years refurbishing all of its 852 rooms in two stages, with each stage handling work on half of the rooms.

This means the hotel will temporarily shut down again in September next year.

It also means the hotel’s room capacity will be reduced by half during the next two years, which may drag down revenue in the short term.

However, Li said the upbeat outlook on the nation’s tourism sector in the long run prompted the hotel to go forward with the large-scale investment.

“As a leader in the nation’s hotel industry, we have to raise the hotel’s quality to attract more international tourists,” she said.

The refurbishment plan is likely to help Grand Hyatt Taipei maintain its lead in the market, but the hotel declined to elaborate on the possible impact the project may have on its bottom line at a time when Taiwan is receiving an increasing number of tourists.

The Tourism Bureau has predicted that more than 10 million people will visit Taiwan in 2016, compared with the 6 million recorded last year.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector’s stocks have shown gains so far this year, with the tourism sub-index increasing 3.84 percent as of Friday and 11.75 percent since June 4, when the TAIEX hit its lowest level of the year.

“The [hotel] industry may maintain steady year-on-year growth,” Formosa Regent Taipei (晶華酒店) public relations director Ellen Chang (張筠) said by telephone.

Formosa Regent Taipei posted NT$2.12 billion in sales for the first seven months of this year, up 2.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the company’s stock exchange filing.

Visitors from China would be a major driver for the nation’s tourism industry over the near future, with Chinese free independent travelers and Chinese business travelers expected to be the main driver for high-end international tourist hotels like Formosa Regent Taipei, Chang said.

However, global economic sentiment would still be a main factor affecting the profits of international tourist hotels, as more than 80 percent of guests staying in these hotels are foreigners, she said.

Despite competition rising as more international hotels enter Taiwan, both Chang and Li said the opening of new hotels could help drive up the room rates for other same-level hotels located in the neighborhood.

For example, the establishment of two five-star luxury hotels in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) between 2010 and last year — Le Meridian Taipei (台北寒舍艾美酒店) and the W-Hotel backed by Uni-President Group (統一集團) — has boosted room rates for the Grant Hyatt Taipei, Li said.

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