[photopress:hptel_sofitel.jpg,full,alignright]Times look good for the backpacker hotels. There are a lot of backpackers around.
Times look even better for the economy hotels especially in China. Offering a clean, well maintained room for the night with Internet access means boom times. Look to see the number of economy hotels expand by at least five times, perhaps more, over the next few years.
At the top, the super-luxury hotels where someone else is typically paying the bill all seems to be well. There are spas, shopping arcades, superior restaurants, concierges who seem to use telepathy to guess what you want. All of it comes at a price but there are apparently many willing to pay that price.
It is in the middle echelons that times are hard, where the independents, and to a lesser extent, the chains, face lean times.
Some of the mid-range chains are rebranding to make themselves more attractive.
Holiday Inn, the world’s biggest hotel chain, is spending, as a first stage, US$1 billion in rebranding.
Accor, the French hotel giant, is going to push Sofitel from being merely an upmarket chain to a luxury brand.
The writer had an amazing lunch in the Sofitel Wentworth last week — someone else was paying — where the food, the wine and the service were worthy of a good restaurant in Paris. Except no Parisian restaurant has, I promise you, a female Irish Japanese sommelier.
There is a problem. If a mid-level hotel spends enough money to push it up at least one, preferably two levels, you are talking very serious money. Most independents in China at this level cannot afford it. They will have to either repackage as a budget hotel or suffer.
Source: Times on Line