Singapore-based Banyan Tree Group, which operates luxury hotels and resorts in Southeast Asia, the Seychelles and Maldives, has plans to enter the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) market with its recently revealed special serviced apartment brand Cassia.
Cassia lies in a niche sector between hotels and serviced apartments, Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, said at the presentation of the new brand in Singapore on June 5, adding that “it will offer fully-finished one and two-bedroom units for sale, with flexible living and investment options,” says Gulf Times
While five projects are already being developed in Thailand, Indonesia, Sir Lanka, Australia and China and additional ones are being planned in New York, Japan, the Seychelles and Vietnam, the company also said it wants to open Cassia residences in the GCC, namely in Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain. According to a statement of Ho Kwon Ping to a Dubai-based English daily, the company is currently looking for suitable land plots and hopes to launch Cassia in the said GCC countries over the next two years.
Cassia will generally offer one and two-bedroom units with flexible living and dining options. Prices will start at around $144,000 for a 35sq m one-bedroom apartment, and there will be a range of flexible services. According to a Banyan Tree statement, the brand has been created to bring together investment opportunities for the growing middle-class looking for affordable holiday homes. It is also an opportunity for the company to develop an innovative hotel product in the serviced apartment segment, it said, pointing out that Cassia lies “in a niche sector between hotels and serviced apartments”.
“It is a hundred percent real-estate venture, but focusing on a very strong hospitality element, and that is bringing our expertise in both areas to launch this new brand,” Ho Kwon Ping said, adding that “the extended stay segment has been overlooked in recent years so we took the opportunity to innovate and create a hospitality product that meets the demands and needs of today’s travellers.” In the GCC, the brand could be targeted at families on a longer stay, he said.
Banyan Tree Group now has three brands in its portfolio, which are Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Angsana Residences and Cassia. The group is seeking to expand globally with a target of 66 hotels and resorts and more than 100 spas and shopping galleries across 33 countries by 2017, many of them in China.
In the GCC, Banyan Tree currently operates two properties, the Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach and the Banyan Tree Al Wadi Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. Another resort in Bahrain is set to open in 2016. A property in Morocco will be opened in 2015.
The group defines itself as the leading international operator in the boutique resort, residences and spa industry; offering a combination of hotels, resorts, residences, spas, retail galleries and spas. Listed in Singapore, the company also runs a funding firm called Banyan Tree Capital, which currently manages the Banyan Tree Indochina Hospitality Fund and the Banyan Tree China Hospitality Fund with combined assets of about $480mn, targeting global luxury hospitality investors.