Lifestyle hotels gaining popularity in Asia Pacific / HOLD for Sun

Lifestyle hotels are growing in Asia, boosted by youthful guests looking for authenticity, community and local experiences coupled with features including innovative design, good connectivity and convenient locations, according to the Hotels and Hospitality Group of JLL, the international real estate investment, services and management group.

“The rise of lifestyle hotels in Asia is fuelled by demographics, especially that of the emerging markets such as India and China,” says Andrew Langston, executive vice-president of asset management, hotels and hospitality with JLL Asia Pacific.

“The majority of travellers opting for such hotels are millennials or, even the oldest members of Generation Z. There is a great potential to capitalise on this growing market by catering to them.”

Starwood’s W brand is widely acknowledged to be the first mainstream lifestyle hotel when it was launched in New York in 1998. Similar brands and concepts have proliferated in the rest of North America and Europe, and are now moving into Asia.

Global lifestyle hotels that have successfully nailed the formula have ventured to Asia in the last two years. UK-based Yotel opened in Singapore in 2017, and Marriott’s Moxy has started up in Bandung, Osaka and Tokyo. More are expected to follow suit. Ace Hotel from the US plans to open Ace Hotel Kyoto in Japan next year.

At the same time, entrepreneurs in the region have started their own lifestyle accommodation concepts. The Australian hospitality group QT opened its latest Perth outpost in August.

Earlier this year, Dusit International, one of Thailand’s foremost hotel and property development companies, announced its plan to introduce a new “millennial-minded” brand known as ASAI Hotels, across Southeast Asia in 2019, with the first one planned for opening in Bangkok in the first quarter.

There are also non-hospitality players entering the region’s lifestyle hotel market. The Japanese lifestyle giant Muji, which is known for its minimalist aesthetic, opened its first two Muji hotels in Shenzhen and Beijing this year, and has another one lined up for launch in Tokyo next year. Retail and lifestyle brands such as the Japanese fashion label Koe and the Singapore nightlife icon Zouk are also making forays into the hotel sector.

Even the toymaker Hasbro is getting into the act, tieing up with the Malaysian property developer M101 Holdings to launch a Monopoly hotel in Kuala Lumpur next year, complete with Monopoly-inspired tokens and keepsakes as part of its amenities.

“While lifestyle hotels accommodate changing demand of a new generation of travellers, it is easier to launch innovative lifestyle concepts in Asia where most hotels tend to be new builds, and not conversions,” says Mr Langston.

“For these reasons, it would not be a surprise to see lifestyle hotels grow at an accelerating rate in Asia’s vibrant cities and holiday destinations.”