Kaohsiung-based Yung Da Fa Fishery Co (永大發漁業) recently opened a hotel in Taitung with the highest average room rate among peers in a bid to attract wealthy domestic and foreign travelers with cultural and artistic appeal, an executive said on Friday.
The Gaya Hotel, a luxury hotel with 145 guest rooms in downtown Taitung, was constructed as a 50-year build-operate-transfer project with the Taitung County Government.
Gaya chief executive officer Alex Chiang (江俊嶙) said the hotel’s average room rate will be NT$5,280 (US$170) per night for the first year, making it the most expensive hotel in eastern Taiwan.
Naruwan Inn (娜路彎大酒店), Papago Resort (日暉國際渡假村) and Hotel Royal Chihpen (知本老爺酒店) have average room rates of about NT$4,000.
“Despite having breathtaking scenery, Taitung remains a [tourism] backwater, as travelers on average spend only one day in the county, which limits tourism revenue for the government and the industry,” Chiang said.
Yuang Da Fa aims to turn a new page by replicating its successful business model at Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵溫泉渡假旅館) in New Taipei City’s Wulai (烏來) area, and Nine Plus Hot Spring Hotel (荷豐溫泉會館) in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投), he said.
Volando is a member of the French Relais & Chateaux, a fellowship of luxury hotels and restaurants limited mainly to historic landmarks, such as castles, manors or townhouses.
If 30 percent of the 3.3 million people who visit Taitung each year stayed a day longer, they would create demand for 550,000 hotel rooms, Chiang said.
The goal is not unattainable if hotel operators organized tours for visitors, he said.
Gaya has teamed up with luxury tour organizer Havens Portfolio to attract high-end travelers from Asia and executives working in the region, Chiang said.
The hotel is within walking distance of Tiehua Music Village (鐵花村), Eslite Bookstore (誠品書局), Taitung Story Museum (台東故事館), Blueprint Cultural and Creative Park and other scenic attractions, allowing guests to see more of the county, he said.
Yung Da Fa spent NT$900 million turning the building, abandoned tax office, into a hotel, which has 13,553m2 of floor space on 10 floors and one underground level.
The hotel has restaurants serving Chinese and Western cuisine, as well as a lounge, a swimming pool and a fitness center, among other amenities.
It allows travelers to check-in and switch on air-conditioning in their room using mobile devices, Chiang said.
“We hope to achieve an occupancy rate of 45 percent in the first 12 months and 62 percent the following year,” compared with 50 percent for the industry in Taitung, Chiang said.
Transportation poses the biggest challenge to Gaya’s goals, as it takes at least four hours to reach Taitung from Taipei by train, he said.