Asian Retail Empires Add More Hotels to the Mix

HONG KONG — Lifestyle is the new retail. It’s a refrain coming out of the mouths of c-suite fashion executives the world over and countless consumer white papers, surveys and conference panels.
While that’s reflected in the trend of growing square footage in malls devoted to F&B, cinemas and other lifestyle components, Asian retail groups are also investing more resources into building out hotel divisions.
Lane Crawford’s owner, for instance, is due to open the five-star luxury hotel The Murray at the end of the year in Hong Kong. Set in a heritage building and undergoing a redesign by Norman Foster’s firm Foster + Partners, it’s part of the Niccolo Hotels launched in 2014 under the Wharf Hotels — the hospitality arm of the Woo family.
“There’s a natural connection between retail businesses and hotels,” said Jennifer Cronin, president of Wharf Hotels. Aside from The Murray, the group will open a Niccolo hotel in Chongqing in August.
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“Our hospitality concepts in Chengdu and Chongqing are integrated into IFS [International Finance Square], a leading retail precinct in the city,” Cronin said. “This two-pronged approach allows guests to become immersed and engaged in a city’s lifestyle, culture and community.”
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