|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
I’ve been digging into the global hotel investment scene lately and wanted to share my findings with you, so you’ll know what’s coming up on the travel horizon in destinations across the world.
For example, last October, the Myanmar government invited foreign financiers to invest in its hotel zone project, which is in the western part of the country. The goal is “To make the Ngapali Beach in Thandwe as modern as the Bali Beach.” We hear Shangri-la Hotels has already agreed to build a 350-room hotel in Kandawgyi Lake. By the way, did you know that Best Western is the first U.S. hotel company to open in Myanmar? Its hotel is in Yangon. More are planned.
The Dubai government is also trying to make it easier for developers to build hotels. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has issued a series of directives that will streamline hospitality development and cut the pre-approval process from three to six months to two.
And in Israel, which saw a reported record-breaking 3.54 million travelers in 2013, the government has put incentives in place to encourage hotel development as well. Set to open in August is the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. The W Jaffa opens next year and the Cramim Resort and Spa has opened 10 minutes from Jerusalem’s city center.
Meanwhile, in Jordan, there’s a $1.55 billion themed entertainment resort going up called the Red Sea Astrarium with four hotels, including one luxury and one for families, all set to open in late 2017.
Here’s a fun FYI. Did you know that Bill Gates has an investment firm with an arm that invests in hotels? Last year Cascade Investment bought the Four Seasons Houston, the Four Seasons Atlanta, and the Four Seasons Punta Mita. We suspect Gates and friends will be investing in these iconic hotels so watch for positive changes there. Cascade and Kingdom Holding Company actually each own 45 percent of the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts’ corporation as well.
Good to know: Europe hotels started 2014 on an up note with our Dave Eisen reporting that there’s an uptick in room demand from the leisure and business side. Of the 360 projects under development, many will open this year. Another 450 hotels are on the drawing board, slated to open in the U.K., Russia, Turkey, Germany and France in the coming years, according to HVS.
Lastly, on the U.S. homefront, Carlson Rezidor just announced at its annual business conference that it’s launching Radisson Red. That’s a select-service brand for Millennials. Hotels will focus on design and have large bars, plus you can heavily personalize your room somehow. Public spaces will resemble loft-like New York City apartments, concrete floors included. Watch for 60 to be open by 2020. Marriott announced earlier it’s launching Moxy, a three-star brand for “Millennial global nomads.” Rooms will be called “Command Centers,” with floor-to-ceiling art walls and 42-inch TVs with airplay connectivity. Milan opens this summer. Hilton has said it also plans a “lifestyle” brand to debut this year.