PHOTO: Looking for a chocolate chip cookie in Jakarta? Try the new DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta – Diponegoro. (Courtesy of DoubleTree by Hilton)
Led by its thriving cities, Southeast Asia continues its ascent as a global center for international business. The growth of high-end beach resorts as well as resorts attached to important tourism attractions, such as Siem Reap, gets much of the media’s attention, but it’s the cities that are expanding the region’s middle class to historic highs. And that economic alchemy owes a lot of its success to the inventory of city hotels located in business districts.
The economic powers of those cities will take something of a political turn next year when the region begins adapting the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a grouping something like the European Union. The idea is to open the doors to a single economy for the 10 member nations of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). With such reforms as a single ASEAN air space, a single ASEAN visa and other items on the agenda, the AEC should only accelerate the economic activity.
The urban business district hotels keep coming. Here are some of the latest:
It’s now possible to find something as familiar and American as a chocolate chip cookie in the heart of Jakarta, the capital of petroleum-rich Indonesia. Indonesia is attracting the attention of several major chains that see it as a country where business travel, especially on the four-star level, will continue to grow.
The chocolate chip cookie can be found in a jar on the lobby desk of the new DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta – Diponegoro. The brand, whose symbol of service is the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie, is making its first appearance in Indonesia. The 253-room hotel opened about three miles from the city’s central business district where companies and embassies are found as well as shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
The hotel offers three FB options including the all-day restaurant, OPEN, which features three show kitchen stations that serve local Indonesian, Asian and Western cuisines as well as a barista counter to serve fresh coffee specialties. Located next to the swimming pool and kids’ pool, the wellness center also features spa facilities including three therapy rooms with attached whirlpools.
“The opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta – Diponegoro marks the addition of our third brand to our portfolio in Indonesia,” said Martin Rinck, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide. “The development of our portfolio within this market has been gaining momentum in recent months and we continue to be committed to expanding our footprint in Indonesia.”
Blu in Bangkok
The failure of Thailand’s political factions to hold a civil dialogue over their differences recently opened the gates for a military seizure of power. The six months of civil disorder in Bangkok collapsed hotel occupancy by up to 35 percent in the city. But Thailand and its capital have a well-tested resiliency that was continually cited at the Thailand Tourism Forum in April organized by the American Chamber of Thailand and C9 Hotel Works.
Jesper Palmqvist, the area director-Asia Pacific of STR Global said that “Thailand’s resilience is legendary. The big question is how many times it can be relied upon after the latest self-inflicted crisis before Thailand finally loses its bounce.”
Carlson Rezidor believes it can be relied on at least once again. On May 1, the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Bangkok opened in the business district of Sukhumvit. The neighborhood, which is loaded with shops and eateries, will get seven more restaurants and bars. As the first Radisson Blu in the city, the 290-room property features the Tuscan-inspired restaurant Attico and the China Table serving dim sum. The B/Sharp lobby bar, B/Sweet and Vintage, a bar with panoramic views located on the 29th floor all bring something different to Sukhumvit. The hotel also brings a new gym, open-air pool and Spa Esc to the scene.
Taipei Unveils a New Mandarin Oriental
From its onset as a republic, Taiwan has lived a double life. Politically, it lives in a perpetual state of conflict with the People’s Republic of China. At the same time, its economy has thrived as one of China’s most important partners. Taipei, the capital, has enjoyed the benefits of that economic partnership, even as its politicians debate the rancorous relationship with the mainland.
The Mandarin Oriental, Taipei opened with an official ribbon cutting and reception for more than 250 VIPs that included the Mayor of Taipei City, Long-Bin Hau, Vice Premier of the Executive Yuan, Chi-kuo Mao, and celebrated Taiwanese actress, Brigitte Lin. The 303-room hotel brings six restaurants and bars to Taipei’s business district.
To mark its official debut, the hotel is making two opening offers. The three-night Stay for More package is priced from $550 and includes the third night free. The two-night Dining Experience package, priced from $660, includes breakfast at COCO, the French Brasserie, for two and a three-course dinner with set menus for two in either COCO or Bencotto, the Italian Restaurant as well as welcome drinks at M.O. BAR.
Hong Kong to Add Business Options
Hong Kong doesn’t need membership in ASEAN for economic strength. As a city on the Pearl River Delta, where about two thirds of China’s exports ship out, it’s positioned in the perfect location. That position makes it necessary to keep adding new hotel capacity on both Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. Hong Kong is adding new hotel options in both districts that are targeting business travelers.
The 388-room Hotel sáv will open in October in Hunghom, Kowloon. Free high-speed wireless Internet will be available throughout the hotel. The hotel’s facilities will include a restaurant, cafe, outdoor lounge, meeting and private dining facilities, and gym. The unconventional design of the hotel offers a unique experience for business and leisure travelers.
Coming this fall, the long-staying Citadines brand will come to Hong Kong when the 55-unit Citadines Mercer Hong Kong opens in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island next to the Central Business District and the Soho area with many restaurants, art galleries and shops. The serviced residence is only a minute walk to Sheung Wan Mass Transit Railway, a five-minute walk to Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and a 10-minute walk to the International Finance Centre where many multinational companies and financial institutions are based. Each of the one-bedroom apartments comes with a kitchenette, living area and workspace and the hotel will also feature a lounge, gym and swimming pool.
All Work and Some Play: Inside Asia"s Business Hotel Boom