Design Hotels Targets Growth in Asia Pacific

Tasmania highly designed for Marriott owned independent hotel brand

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Design Hotels’ collection of independent properties has identified Australia as a location for desired growth. The Berlin-based company has 328 unique member hotels in 235 destinations across 59 countries, but its properties in Australia currently sit at just three: The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney, Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne and Ovolo Nishi in Canberra.

This week, representatives from a batch of member hotels were in Australia for the annual Design Hotels Exchange, which took place at The Mint in Sydney on Tuesday morning and at Matilda 159 Domain in Melbourne on Thursday.  The exchange was led by Madelaine Chan, Regional Director of Sales for Design Hotels, and delegates from five hotels.

Travel professional partners that work directly with the group were invited to an early morning breakfast and meditation (pictured below) to kick off the event in Sydney, followed by a network session where attendees were encouraged to quiz the member hotels about their unique properties. Participating Design Hotels included Mason (Pattaya, Thailand), The Warehouse (Singapore), Ovolo Southside (Hong Kong), Myconian Kyma (Mykonos, Greece) and The Naka Phuket (Phuket, Thailand).

Speaking to LATTE from Design Hotels’ regional HQ in Singapore; Jinou Park, Regional Director, Asia Pacific said the group sees potential growth opportunities across Asia Pacific and the Americas.

“We’ve always had a great presence in Southeast Asia but we are trying to balance and round out the portfolio right across Asia Pacific. In that sense growing Australia and I’m looking for the right hotel in New Zealand where we currently don’t have a presence today. We are growing and want to continue to grow.”

In Southeast Asia, Design Hotels will look to expand to Vietnam where it recently partnered with its first property in the country, Bach Suites Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). There’s also a renewed focus on China and Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Design Hotels Sydney Exchange 2019

Park said Design Hotels was constantly on the look-out for other properties in Australia to add to its portfolio. A void in the Brisbane market after Limes Hotel exited the group three years ago still remains. Although there has been a substantial increase in new hotel openings in the Queensland capital in recent times, most are part of international or global chains.

“What makes Design Hotels unique is it is a curated collection of really original and differentiated experiences. Design and architecture are also an important pillar,” Park told LATTE.

“Our challenge in Brisbane is we are really looking for one-off, original-type experiences.”

Park said Tasmania has “great potential” for the likes of Design Hotel.

“That is truly and interesting and inspiring destination and we want to be there.”

Design Hotels Sydney Exchange
Design Hotels Sydney Exchange

Quizzed about the impact of Design Hotels’ being majority owned by Marriott, Park said the company remains very much independently operated.

“That independence is important for Design Hotels because of who we are and how we operate and our DNA. It’s also very much valued by Marriott’s top management. They truly value Design Hotels’ differentiation and how it fits alongside all the other brands within Marriott’s portfolio.”

“A very important collaboration [with Marriott] is in the loyalty area with Bonvoy. Just under half of our member hotels around the world are available on the Bonvoy channel. Simply put, Bonvoy opens those participating up to 110 million Bonvoy customers, who can book a Design Hotel, earn points and also redeem stays in our member hotels.”

Park told LATTE that sales were strong through the channel, varying from 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 percent, depending on the member property and its specific location.

He added that one of Design Hotels’ key objectives was to drive direct sales by building member hotel brand awareness, but “nevertheless travel agencies and online travel agencies are still an ingredient in a channel for many of our hotels. For some more, and for some less.”

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