Sydney, New York and various cities across Europe have been flagged as likely locations for Prince Hotels & Resorts‘ new luxury brand, The Prince Akatoki.
In Sydney this week, Prince Hotels’ Director Executive Managing Officer, Ryuichiro Nishiyama, outlined the hotelier’s vision to expand the fledgling brand, an international off-shoot of its five-star offering in Japan, The Prince, located in Tokyo (x2), Karuizawa (x2) and Hakone.
Speaking through an interpreter to LATTE, Nishiyama confirmed that Sydney was under evaluation for The Prince Akatoki, alongside other destinations in Australia. A specific site was yet to be pinpointed, but the groundwork was well underway.
Nearly two years after establishing a beachhead in Sydney, Japan’s Prince Hotels Inc. held the company’s first media event in Australia this week as it continues to expand awareness of the company and its brands, aimed at invigorating tourism between the two countries.
Visitor numbers from Australia to Japan are thriving at the moment and the destination will host the Rugby World Cup later this year, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 and the World Expo in Osaka, in 2025.
Founded in 1956, Prince Hotels operates four hotel brands in its home country: The Prince in the luxury space, Grand Prince Hotel in the upper upscale segment, Prince Hotel in the upscale and Prince Smart Inn in the upper midscale/midscale. In October 2017, Prince Hotels acquired Australia’s StayWell Holdings, expanding its profile overseas through StayWell’s brands Park Regis and Leisure Inn, and at the time combined to develop two new brands, Leisure Inn Plus and Policy. Further, last year the parties announced the development of a new luxury hotel unit called The Prince Akatoki, a brand that would carry the same qualities of its five-star The Prince into markets outside of Japan for the first time.
Collectively under the nine brands, Prince Hotels & Resorts currently operates 74 hotels around the globe, 43 of which are in eight of the 10 most popular tourist regions in Japan. It also owns 31 golf courses (28 in Japan and three in Hawaii), nine Japanese ski resorts and other leisure facilities including tennis centres, pools, bowling centres, an aquarium and operates The Prince Ice World ice skating show.
Prince Hotels & Resorts is owned by Japan’s Seibu Group, an enormous conglomerate that possesses 81 various businesses, including rail transport operators, real estate and even a professional baseball team, the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Through StayWell, Prince Hotels & Resorts expanded to new international markets. In addition to Australia –where it has 10 properties operating under the Park Regis and Leisure Inn brands – the company has added China, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Indonesia, the UAE, Bahrain and now the UK to its network.
Under an ambitious medium- to long-term strategy, Prince and Staywell have the vision to expand its current hotel portfolio from 74 to 250, with a focus on Japan and Australia.
Last year Prince Hotels acquired The Arch London as its launch property for The Prince Akatoki. Billed as one of the most luxurious hotels in London, and currently a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the hotel is located a two-minute walk from Marble Arch and 100 metres from Oxford Street.
“You cannot get a better location in London,” boasts StayWell President & Director, Simon Wan.
The Arch London is currently #7 of 1,091 properties on TripAdvisor. Wan said the 82-room hotel acquisition was one of the most exciting projects for Prince and StayWell since the parties came together. While currently still operating as The Arch London, it will be refurbished ahead of its rebranding, planned for sometime between the Northern summer and autumn of this year.
Nishiyama told LATTE the property’s extensive refurbishment would see the interior design completely overhauled, but the core structure – the number of rooms – will remain the same. A restaurant, which is a fusion of both Japanese and Western cultures, is also planned. The Prince Akatoki, London will provide a slice of Japanese hospitality and culture in the heart of the UK.
He said Prince Hotels had long desired a site in London, and the purchase was only achieved through the “joining of hands” with StayWell to create the group’s first luxury hotel experience outside of Japan.
The Prince Akatoki’s second property, a new-build, is also slated to open later this year in Guangzhou, China under a management agreement. The 275 luxury room The Prince Akatoki, Guangzhou will be located in the precinct of Bio-Island and within the Pearl River Delta area.
Nishiyama said in addition to London and Guangzhou, the group was considering various cities across Europe, Australia and the world to meet its goal of 100 new overseas properties in the next 10 years. While future acquisitions are possible for The Prince Akatoki, the core will be management agreements.
“We are currently researching Sydney. We haven’t determined the location or the building. We are still looking. In this market, we will rely on StayWell’s detailed knowledge and expertise to determine options.”
“New York is definitely under consideration,” Nishiyama said, adding that the group already has a sales office in the city making it a logical choice. Elsewhere in the US, Prince Hotels & Resorts has three properties in Hawaii, one in Honolulu and two on the Island of Hawaii. Having sold off its asset in Maui, the Japanese hotelier has no immediate plans to expand its presence there, but continues to invest in its existing collection.
He said Australia was an “extremely important” market to Prince Hotels & Resorts, with around 23,000 Australians staying with the group at its hotels in Japan last year, up 23.5% on the year prior.
“We want this number to increase as Australians are the second highest visitor spenders for Japan, spending about 220,000 yen per trip, and they tend to stay longer than other tourists,” he concluded.
Lead image: The Arch London, destined to be The Prince Akatoki, London