Authentic & memorable holidays

26-Feb-2019 Intellasia | VN Economic Times | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The rise of luxury hotels and resorts in Vietnam brings guests new and exclusive experiences.

AccorHotels officially opened its MGallery Hotel de la Coupole, the first international luxury hotel in Sapa, in mid-December. The hotel was designed by renowned luxury resort designer Bill Bensley and features 249 modern rooms and suites overlooking the legendary Sapa Valley, nearby mountains, and the town square. The launch of Hotel de la Coupole is the latest addition to AccorHotels’ luxury and upscale segment during its 27-year presence in Vietnam. “Our first MGallery hotel in Vietnam opened in 2009 and this new opening adds to our existing portfolio of six MGallery properties in Vietnam, which signifies our continuous growth in the country,” said Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer for AccorHotels Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Vietnam already has a number of highly-respected hotels. With regards to AccorHotels, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is an iconic historical landmark, while its other projects include The Legacy Yen TuMGallery by Sofitel, located close to Ha Long Bay near the sacred Yen Tu Mountain, which together with this new hotel in Sapa open up new luxury tourism opportunities in northern Vietnam.

With a host of exciting projects in the pipeline, Vietnam’s upscale accommodation market boasts substantial potential, providing many opportunities for both local and foreign investors looking to invest in the country’s hospitality sector.

Rise of luxury hotels and resorts

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the total number of international tourist arrivals in 2018 exceeded 15.5 million, an increase of 19.9 per cent year-on-year. Visitors from Asia again contributed the largest proportion, of which China and South Korea remained the biggest markets, with a total of nearly 8.5 million arrivals.

As tourism grows so does the accommodation industry. The number of four to five-star establishments doubled in 2016. As disposable incomes continue to increase, domestic travellers seek more and more luxurious hotels. Meanwhile, foreign travellers, though being price sensitive, generally seek higher-end hotels when visiting Vietnam whether for leisure or MICE purposes.

In 2012, there were 598 three to five-star hotels in the country, of which four to five-star hotels accounted for only 37 per cent of establishments and 58 per cent of rooms, according to VNAT figures. In 2017, 25,600 accommodation facilities with a total of 508,000 rooms were available around the country, an increase of 21.9 per cent in the number of facilities and 20.9 per cent in the number of rooms compared to 2016. Meanwhile, the number of four and five-star hotels reached 262 and 120, respectively, up 13.9 per cent and 15.3 per cent year-on-year.

These figures indicate healthy growth in Vietnam’s high-end and luxury segment, which is expected to continue in the next three years.

According to Savills Hotels, a particularly large increase was observed in 2018, with announcements of Anantara Villas in Quy Nhon, Mandarin Oriental and Movenpick in HCM City, and Best Western Premier in Quang Binh and Long Hai. More brands such as Holiday Inn and Doubltree by Hilton, Courtyard by Marriott and Hyatt Place will enter the market some time soon.

New exclusive experiences

The development of high-end and luxury hotels and resorts also brings special services and experiences to satisfy the demands of high net-worth travellers.

MGallery is a collection of storied boutique hotels offering guests unique experiences inspired by the destination. Each MGallery hotel stands as a gateway into another worldbe it a bygone era, a hidden haven, or a spectacular natural landscape. The collection is comprised of historic luxury hotels, many of which have hosted historic figures or iconic poets and authors. Others are stunningly modern hotels inspired by the cities they are located in, but in every case, MGallery hotels are inspired by their own stories echoed by their artful design.

“I’m excited to launch the first international luxury hotel in Sapa, which fuses high-fashion glamour with a colorful ethnic minority style,” said Jean-Pierre Joncas, general manager of MGallery Hotel de la Coupole. “Sapa is famous for its fine rugged scenery and rich cultural diversity. Guests staying at the hotel can bask in the picturesque Mt. Fansipan with a ride up the cable car, which offers enthralling views of Muong Hoa Valley and the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range.”

According to Anthony Slewka, director of Sales and Marketing at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel, the hotel aims to provide guests with a one-of-a-kind luxury hospitality experience. “Given our iconic brand, we anticipate guests arriving with high expectations,” he said. “Our aim is to ensure that their expectations are exceeded and that our comfortable rooms, exquisite cuisine, and special character make their stay memorable.”

For guests, the hotel provides a 24-hour personalised “Majordome” (butler) service, along with other features such as private express check-in and check-out services, special bath and pillow menus, a fleet of modern BMW 7 series sedans for airport transfers, and tailor-made menus and dishes to suit individual needs. “To be considered luxury, having the best amenities is no longer enoughit is about providing personalised services and experiences,” Slewka added.

Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel, is of a similar mind. “Luxury is not about things; it is all about the experience,” he said. Fifteen years ago, Vietnam’s emerald checkerboard of lush paddy fields, meandering bays, and city rivers crammed with floating market was best suited to backpackers. These days, however, according to Ha, it is the luxury traveler who is being wooed with new hotels, experiences, new tours, and boutique and ultra-boutique cruises. “Travellers are seeking new and exotic experiences and more, whether in terms of personal value or value for money,” he said. “Many have moved towards a quieter understated luxury and plan their trips with a focus on authenticity and experiential travel, searching for particularly enriching once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For us, it is essentially about creating an experiential type of travel that is personal as well as authentic and memorable. That is why we are launching an ultra-boutique cruise in the Gulf of Tonkin in May.”

Many luxury travel experts say Vietnam is now one of the top ten destinations in Asia, with luxury as the fastest-growing segment. The beauty of Vietnam continues to involve its cultural heritage, retaining that delicate balance between modernity and the past.

“Vietnam as a destination full of potential,” Slewka concluded. “There are still many areas left untapped. The country is blessed with beautiful scenery and inspiring culture. Given the correct infrastructure and sufficient luxury properties, the country will become and remain a luxury travel destination.”

Mauro Gasparotti, director of Savills Hotels Asia Pacific

Hospitality has been an attractive sector for investors over the last few years due to its consistent growth, which is expected to continue in 2019 partly due to boosts from global megatrends. One of the prominent trends is information technology (IT), which has had a tremendous impact on the tourism industry in both the leisure and business sectors. The development of IT will make travel much easier with higher quality products and many different accommodation options thanks to the help of travel support tools and applications.

Vietnam is in a good position to capture growth and opportunities. In 2019 we expect that tourism will continue to grow but at a lower rate than last year. There will be a new wave of supply, with branded properties coming online such as Movenpick Cam Ranh and Melia Ho Tram, which could put these locations on the international tourism map.

Our main concern for 2019 is many condotel projects coming onto the market with enormous inventories. Condotels are good products only when they are well-studied, planned, and executed.

Main destinations like HCM City, due to limited future supply, are expected to maintain good levels of stability in performance. We often encourage developers to study new trends and products that have not had much of a presence in Vietnam, such as branded residences, select service hotels, or experience-oriented resorts, in order to diversify accommodation options and capture the needs of a new generation of traveler. However, these products also require investors have a certain understanding of concepts and ideas as well as ways of cooperation between involved parties to ensure project implementation and feasibility.

We also hope to see more green projects and sustainable development in the future, which will become a very important factor and criteria for end users. Finally, some previously calm destinations such as Hue or Mui Ne are expected to return to compete with the coastal tourism market with many new development opportunities. Overall, we still have a positive outlook on Vietnam’s hospitality real estate market in 2019 and look forward to positive outcomes.”


Category: Finance, Vietnam

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