Centara Hotels & Resorts, Thailand’s leading hotel company with properties at all the main destinations throughout the kingdom and a growing portfolio elsewhere in Asia, is expanding fast.
The company’s future growth strategy and targets are based on the overarching aim to be one of the best hotel and resort chains in Asia and to be recognized as an outstanding international brand.
Centara is a division of Central Group, the largest of Thailand’s retail conglomerates, with a mixture of own-brand stores and franchise agreements.
The hotel division was launched almost exactly 30 years ago with a property at Bangkok’s Ladprao district, and was known until 2007 as Central Hotels&Resorts. In that year, the decision was made to rebrand to Centara Hotels&Resorts, and with the change of name, progress has been rapid.
Centara currently has 55 hotels and resorts in its portfolio, with a mixture of owned and managed properties. Most of these are already open, although some are still in the pre-opening phase.
In the next 5 years, the target is to acquire more than 45 hotel and resort properties with the intention of reaching 100 in 2017.
This, Centara believes to be realistic, having 4 years ago set a target to have 50 properties within 5 years, a target that was exceeded with a year to spare.
The company’s strategy is based on being “asset light,” the main focus being on acquiring more managed hotels. Centara is, however, also investing in some properties by building on owned land or through joint ventures, or by acquiring other good projects that fit into the company portfolio.
Aside from Thailand, Centara properties can now be found in the Maldives, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bali, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka.
The growth strategy covers the main tourism destinations and gateway cities in Asia, including member nations of the ASEAN Economic Community, which comes into being in 2015. The growth map includes major cities in the Indian Ocean region and possibly in Oceania.
Centara is also very interested in the possibility of expanding into the Middle East and gateway cities in Europe.
In Asia, the company’s first venture into China has already been announced, with a property to open in Shanghai in 2013, and the intention is for further expansion into China.
India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives are countries in which Centara already has properties or business relationships, and so there would be economies of scale to have more properties in each of these destinations. The company is also looking towards some of the newly-opening countries, such as Myanmar.
The strategy of expansion and quality rests on several fronts.
Centara is a Thai company, with its roots in Thai society, and the culture of Thai hospitality is a very strong selling point throughout the world, as Thailand has an international reputation for the warmth and grace of its hospitality.
In business terms, Centara always delivers what is promised to owners, to business partners, and to customers. The approach with owner-companies is based on the belief that the working relationship requires trust and understanding, on both sides.
The company has strong policies on serving the community, in which it is very active through a range of projects, and in taking care of the environment where, in addition to its own internal programs, Centara is involved with international programs such as EarthCheck.
Centara’s focus has been on expanding its 5-star and 4-star brands, but the recent advent of the Centra value brand, and the launch later this year of a new economy hotel brand aimed at the budget travel sector, is greatly broadening the range of options. The launch last year of the Centara Boutique Collection brand and the Centara Residence brand has also spread the potential.
Centara Hotels&Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 38 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. A further 17 resorts in the Maldives; Philippines; Vietnam; Bali, Indonesia; Sri Lanka; and Mauritius Indian Ocean, brings the present total to 55 properties. Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs.
Centara operates 25 branches of Spa Cenvaree, one of Thailand’s most luxurious and innovative spa brands, together with its newly-launched value brand Cense by Spa Cenvaree, which provides core spa services for busy travelers. The company’s Kids’ Club is available at all the family-friendly resorts to ensure that the youngsters and teens are taken care of. Centara Hotels&Resorts also operates 2 state-of-the-art convention centers in Bangkok, and 2 in northeastern Thailand, one being located in Udon Thani and the other in Khon Kaen.