Akyra Manor Chiang Mai To Launch In October As Manor Chief John Lim Jets In To Rally Troops And Eye New Investments
Manor Group founder and CEO John Lim arrived in Thailand yesterday to reveal his group had invested over THB 300 million in akyra Manor Chiang Mai, the five-star all-suite chic hotel set to launch this October.
Manor Group founder and CEO John Lim.
The Singaporean entrepreneur is known as a man with an eye for an opportunity, having successfully pursued careers as a scientist, civil servant, property developer, design studio owner, logistics expert and now Thai luxury hospitality player and restaurateur.
A biotechnology graduate from London’s Imperial College who previously worked with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research in cutting-edge biotech research, Mr Lim is more concerned with injecting new life and energy into Chiang Mai’s five star hotel offerings these days.
Mr Lim was in Bangkok for talks with his Thai partner, AKARYN Hotel Group founder and managing director Anchalika Kijkanakorn,who also chairs Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH). He said he was excited about the upcoming launch, which had been pushed back to October from a planned August launch, due to unforeseen construction delays.
“You only get one chance to make a first impression, and we decided we needed the extra few months to ensure the hotel launches with a bang, firing on all cylinders, rather than rush to market with a product with rough edges. We are in this for the long haul, not the short term. It was a decision that had to be made, and I apologise to any travelers who had planned to visit us in August and September. We will make it up to you, be assured of that.”
The hotel will become part of AKARYN Hotel Group, which owns and operates the Aleenta resorts in Phuket-Phang Nga and Hua Hin-Pranburi, along with operating akyra Chura Samui resort and gearing up for next year’s launch of AKARYN Koh Krabeay, a Kenzo-designed retreat and spa on its own private island in Cambodia.
Mr Lim said he had full confidence in the AKARYN Hotel Group team, chosen for the international and professional manner with which they took on worldwide markets, setting benchmarks and protocols for quality.
“Anchalika and her team demonstrate a passion for excellence, pride in delivering top notch service and a great emphasis on staff training and team building,” he said. “We are confident that together we can build up and further expand our corporate image and grow our businesses in tandem.”
Manor Group has inked a 10-year contract with AKARYN Hotel Group to operate akyra Manor Chiang Mai, located in hip Nimanhaemin, an upscale precinct known as ‘coffee street’ and a growing centre of the city’s booming art scene.
Mr Lim snapped up the 9,000 sq ft site after seeing it during a visit to Chiang Mai in early 2013. “We paid around THB 250 million.But the value has almost tripled since then,” he said. “At first, we thought of just building a three-star hotel because we shouldn’t invest too much.
“But Chiang Mai has too many three-star hotels, so we went all the way to do an all-suite five-star hotel, with a great courtyard-within-a-room concept, very generously sized suites and a minimal, contemporary and decidedly urban feel, as that is what the market here was lacking. There is an extreme shortage of high-end hotels there, occupancy rates are 80 to 100 percent at the best hotels.”
Mr Lim said he remained bullish on Thailand and was actively looking for other investment opportunities, with Chiang Mai and Hua Hin very much on his radar, while also exploring possible deals in Vietnam and Malaysia.
“The core of any hospitality industry is its people, and Thailand never fails to reflect this inherent service mentality,” said Mr Lim.”I believe that while service is still the number one priority, the value-add is to provide a more personalized hotel experience and deeper connections to the destination, and we will inculcate this type of culture to the hotel.”
Mr Lim said Thailand’s rising GDP and an emergent middle class hungry for the latest gadgets and lifestyle accessories meant logistics with regards to imports was an area of high potential growth.
“Thailand has long been a big exporter, but now its import numbers are also moving up quickly,” Mr Lim said. “The growth of cities beyond Bangkok and the connectivity required is contributing to a growth in demand for logistics.”