Karl Hudson, Vice President Marriott International Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan
Marriott recently confirmed with Thailand real estate conglomerate TCC Lands Asset the development of seven new properties in the Kingdom. During the presentation of the first two branded Marriott properties in Hua Hin and Phuket, ASEAN.travel talked to Karl Hudson, VP Marriott International for Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Japan about the hotel company’s perspectives
When did Marriott move into Thailand? How strong are you today?
Karl Hudson- We have been present in Thailand for 22 years and have already a strong portfolio of six brands in Thailand compared to 9 different Marriott brands in Asia. We run beside our core brand Marriott Hotel, we also have in Thailand Renaissance, Marriott Executive Appartments, Courtyard, JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton. We now have 20 properties with our two new Marriott in Hua hin and Phuket. Our target is to grow our portfolio to 30 hotels by the year 2018.
Do you think that Thailand has still a huge tourism potential for development or do you fear a saturation effect?
Karl Hudson- Thailand’s core asset is the incredible sense of service and friendliness of its people. This human touch explains the popularity of the destination, of course linked also to beautiful beaches, superb food and an interesting culture. I feel extremely confident about the potential of Thailand to further grow because the country is easily accessible from the two largest inbound travel markets of Asia: India and China. Both countries add every year on average 20 million more individuals reaching the status of middle class with consequent purchasing power. We have many hotels in China under our brand ad want to grow our portfolio to probably 150 properties in the future. This is the best public relation we can have there to promote our properties in Thailand…
What kind of development are you looking at in Thailand? Would you also move to secondary destinations?
Karl Hudson- We firstly concentrated to strong tourist destinations such as Bangkok or Phuket. But we already look at secondary destinations. We are already in Rayong for example and we will soon take over from Amari a property in Koh Chang. We study markets thoroughly and we will move if we find existing properties to take over or find a local owner. There is definitely a market for Chiang Mai or some other resort destinations.
Outside Thailand, what is the fastest growing market in your attribution?
Karl Hudson- we feel very bullish about Vietnam, which is also experiencing today a boom in tourism, especially following the easing of visa conditions for foreign travellers. We are now only present with two properties, a JW Hotel in Hanoi and a Renaissance property in Ho Chi Minh City. We will open next year two new JW Marriott hotels in Danang and on Phu Quoc Island. We will also meanwhile add Cambodia to our portfolio by opening a Courtyard by Marriott in Siem Reap near Angkor Wat. I believe that a mid class/upper class hotel will perfectly fit into Siem Reap tourism demand. In the Philippines, we see for now a huge potential for Metro Manila due to a booming economy and the opening of integrated resorts with casinos in the last two years. Manila should also attract some of the emerging middle class from China and India in the future. We currently operate two hotels in Manila and Cebu.