Tue, Sep 26, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Westin to help attract foreigners to Yilan

MEMBERS’ BENEFITS:Lealea hotels and Rich Development, which worked with Mariott on the project, said the chain’s loyalty program would ensure a stable supply of guests

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter, in Yilan

Rich Development Co (力麒建設) and affiliate Lealea Hotels and Resorts Co (力麗觀光) have opened a new resort hotel in Yilan to expand their business to the county’s lesser-known locations.

Westin Resort Yilan (宜蘭力麗威斯汀度假酒店) in the county’s Yuanshan Township (圓山) is the first international five-star hotel in Yilan. The build-operate-transfer venture with the local government aims to build the township into a hot spring attraction, like Jiaosi Township (礁溪).

“While rivals vie for a share in Jiaosi, we are focusing on the less-navigated territory of Yuanshan to demonstrate our commitment to boost prosperity in Yilan,” hotel chairman Vincent Kuo (郭濟綱) said at the grand opening on Saturday.

Kuo, the third generation to lead Lealea Group (力麗集團), spearheaded the cooperation with Marriott International Inc in the hope of taking advantage of the hotel group’s vast loyalty program.

Marriott touts a membership of 100 million following the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc last year and is poised to grow after entering into an alliance with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), Marriott area vice president Josef Dolp said.

“A small share of Alibaba’s 500 million members will suffice to bolster Marriott’s business significantly,” Dolp said.

The Westin Yilan wants to be among the three most profitable hotels in Yilan County and is aiming for a 60 percent occupancy rate on weekdays and 90 percent on weekends, hotel general manager Tina Tang (唐明秋) said.

The goal is achievable, as the hotel has only 85 guestrooms and six independent villas, making it easier to fill its capacity, Tang said.

Marriott supplied about 20 percent of the guests during the soft opening and overall occupancy could improve as the high season for hot spring tours approaches, Tang said.

The Westin Yilan is a 15-minute drive from Yilan Railway Station and scenic spots such as Fushan Botanical Garden (福山植物園), Wanglongpi (望龍埤), Shuanglianpi (雙連埤), Lipihu (蜊埤湖) and Zhentoushan Leisure Farms (枕頭山休閒農業區).

The Westin brand should attract more foreign travelers to Yilan, where domestic travelers account for up to 90 percent of tourists, Kuo said.

Lealea Group runs two less expensive properties under its own brand in other parts of Yilan and is building two more near Wushih Harbor (烏石港), Kuo said.

“We are upbeat about the travel and tourism industry, and believe the correction we are experiencing will not last forever,” he said.

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