Shangri-La Asia plans for 15 more hotels in China

SHANGRI-LA Asia Ltd, Asia's biggest hotel operator, expects to increase the number of properties in China to more than 35 from 20 in the next three years to tap the country's growing economy.  

The company, controlled by Robert Kuok, has four hotels in Beijing and expects more opportunities in the capital and in smaller markets such as Chengdu and Urumchi, said Symon Bridle, chief operating officer.  

“For us, China is very much part of our key growth strategy and we're very aggressive on China,” Bridle said in a recent interview.  

“We see a lot of potential there and we're positive on China in terms of where it can take us in the expansion.” 

Shangri-La's expansion comes amid an anticipated increase in travel to China, where Beijing will host the Olympic Games in 2008. Chinese citizens are also expected to travel more. 

Still, there is concern the Hong Kong-based company is expanding amid an oversupply of hotels in China. Nigel Summers, a director at Horwath Asia Pacific Ltd in Hong Kong, a hotel consulting firm, said the additional hotels help position Shangri-La over time as the economy expands.  

“There will be some soft period coming up but hotels are long-term play and the demand and growth in China will continue in the long term,” Summers said.  

“They have been very good at developing and they're excellent at getting good locations at good prices. They can still expand in that market and do well.” 

The company is adding properties in India, where it expects to have six to 10 hotels in two to three years in cities such as Mumbai, Bridle said. It has hotels in Chennai and New Delhi. – Bloomberg  

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