Ascott confirms new Lyf brand locations

The Ascott Limited’s recently announced new lifestyle brand, Lyf (pronounced “life”), will be heading to China and Singapore starting next year, with the company announcing it will be opening three properties in Shenzhen, Dalian and Singapore.

First to open will be the 112-unit Lyf Wu Tong Island Shenzhen, which is currently expected to take visitors starting in the first half of next year. This will be followed towards the end of 2018 with the opening of the new 120-unit Lyf DDA Dalian.

The largest of the three new properties, however, will be the Lyf Farrer Park Singapore, which will have 240 units, but isn’t expected to be open until 2021.

Designed around the concept of co-living spaces, the Lyf brand is geared particularly towards millennials – a demographic Ascott notes is growing rapidly.

“Since Ascott unveiled the Lyf brand in Singapore last November, we have received very strong interest in this new co-living concept designed by millennials for the growing wave of millennial and millennial-minded travellers, such as technopreneurs, start-ups and those in the creative industries,” said the company’s CEO, Lee Chee Koon.

“With the launch of Lyf in these two key markets for Ascott, we are gathering momentum to capture this booming social generation. Already accounting for a quarter of Ascott’s customer base, millennials are expected to be the largest spending travel demographic by 2020. China is amongst Ascott’s top customers globally and has the world’s second-largest millennial population.

“As global fintech hubs, China and Singapore are also homes to start-ups raking in billion-dollar deals. We are therefore expecting to see more Lyf properties in gateway cities in China as well as another Lyf in downtown Singapore. Ascott is also actively looking at other potential markets including Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and the United Kingdom, as we work towards achieving our target of 10,000 units under the Lyf brand globally by 2020.”

Details of the three upcoming properties are slim, though the Shenzhen property will be situated within the Wu Tong Island innovation park, while the Dalian property will be in the Dalian Development Area (DDA) – China’s first economic and technological development zone. The Farrer Park property in Singapore, meanwhile, is located near to the city’s central business district.

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Ascott opens Somerset property in Bangkok’s Ekamai district

The Ascott Limited has opened a new Somerset serviced residence in Bangkok’s Ekamai district – an area of the city that’s become popular for its restaurants, bars and cafes.

The new property marks the group’s 11th in Thailand, with seven more in Bangkok, Pattaya and Sri Racha in the pipeline. The Somerset Bangkok Ekamai’s 262 accommodations include studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that are divided into different categories. These include 130 premium serviced apartments, 81 units that are available for extended-stay corporate leasing, and 51 single-bedroom apartments designed to also function as meetings facilities.

According to Ascott general manager for Thailand, Jean Keijdener, “[Ekamai] is also an upscale residential area popular with locals and expatriates working in the central business district and Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard, the country’s economic growth engine”.

He added: “With its multiconference centre, alongside its premium serviced apartments, recreational facilities and a restaurant, Somerset Ekamai Bangkok is one of the most ideal venues for business travellers who prefer the convenience of being able to work, live and play under the same roof. It will also appeal to leisure travellers looking for quality accommodation while discovering the interesting places in Bangkok’s hipster enclave.”

Facilities within the property itself include a swimming pool, massage parlour and gym, while indoor and outdoor playgrounds are also available for guests with children. Access to the rest of the city, meanwhile, can be reached using the BTS Skytrain – the closest stop is a few minutes away on foot.

An opening promotion is also running until October 31 this year, offering per night stays in a single-bedroom apartment from THB1,300++ (US$38++) or a premium serviced residence from THB2,800++ (US$82++).

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Ascott’s Citadines brand to make US debut on Fifth Avenue

New York City skyline

Singapore-based serviced residence brand Citadines, part of The Ascott Limited, is set to make its entry to the US in 2018 after a renovation and rebranding of the existing Hotel Central Fifth Avenue New York hotel. The Ascott Limited acquired the 125-unit property earlier this week and has committed to investing close to US$50 million in the property, which will be rebranded as the Citadines Fifth Avenue New York.

The new Citadines will mark the brand’s debut in the US, and will bring Ascott’s portfolio in the Americas to five, with more than 1,100 units across all properties.

Speaking about the signing, Ascott CEO Lee Chee Koon, said: “The debut of our Citadines brand in North America is a significant move to expand Ascott’s global network of properties. Citadines is Ascott’s fastest-growing brand having more than tripled its portfolio since our acquisition of the Citadines Apart’hotel chain in Europe in 2004.”

Last year, the brand opened its first property in Seoul along with two Citadines-brand properties in Hong Kong.

“New York has registered significant increase in average daily rate and occupancy in the past years, particularly in Manhattan where we currently own two other prime properties through our real estate investment trust, Ascott Residence Trust,” added Lee. “All three properties in Manhattan are in high demand with close to full occupancy given their strategic locations in Times Square, Tribeca and Fifth Avenue.”

Located at 15 West 45th Street, the new Fifth Avenue property will be located close to Times Square and Grand Central Station, while a number of businesses such as IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America and Verizon are located within close proximity to the building. Full details of the property and its facilities are yet to be unveiled by Ascott.

Currently operating more than 30,000 serviced residence units, with an additional 21,000 already under development, Ascott aims to increase its global footprint to comprise 80,000 units by 2020.

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Ascott to open debut Jeju property in South Korea

Somerset Jeju Shinhwa World

Singapore-based serviced residence brand The Ascott Limited will be opening its first property on the South Korean island of Jeju later this month. The new Somerset Jeju Shinhwa World serviced residence will be Ascott’s fourth property in the country when it opens on April 25, joining the group’s existing Seoul and Busan properties.

A total of 344 units will be available at the new property, which aims to target both business and leisure travellers. Corporate groups will also be able to make use of MICE facilities within the wider Jeju Shinhwa World integrated resort in which the Somerset Jeju Shinhwa World is situated. This integrated resort also includes a theme and a water park, gaming facilities, retail outlets and a K-Pop entertainment area.

“As Jeju is popular with domestic and global travellers, there is strong potential for Somerset Jeju Shinhwa World, which provides the comforts and privacy of home with world-class service,” said Max Phillips, country general manager for South Korea. “With our Somerset property being part of the Jeju Shinhwa World integrated resort, our guests and their families will enjoy numerous entertainment, retail, and food and beverage options.”

Each unit comes in a three-bedroom set up with a kitchen, separate living and dining areas, as well as a balcony. Amenities include more standard fare, such as washing machines and dishwashers, to more lavish offerings including a wine cellar and a centralised home automation system. A clubhouse, lobby lounge, gym and sauna, restaurant and children’s play areas form the wider facilities also available at the property.

Located in the south of Jeju island near Seogwipo City, Somerset Jeju Shinhwa World is approximately 40 minutes from Jeju International Airport. As part of the property’s opening, special 30 per cent discounts are being offered on bookings made for stays between April 25 and October 31, 2017.

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Japan’s first Ascott The Residence to open this month

Ascott Marunouchi

Capitaland owned Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo is set to open its doors on March 30. It will become the first Ascott-branded serviced residence in Japan.

 

The residence is located in the Marunouchi-Otemachi area, a big international financial centre in the capital where many multinational companies and the headquarters of major Japanese banks are based. It is part of an integrated development which also comprises offices, restaurants, cafés and bars with both indoor and alfresco dining options. ­It is also close to famous spots including Imperial Palace East Gardens and the famous Ginza district. The property can be reached from the Tokyo train station in a ten-minute walk.

 

There are 130 apartments, ranging from 38 sqm studio to 163 sqm three-bedroom category, and provide views of the city and garden. Some apartments offer Japanese tatami mattress for guest who wants to enjoy a local experience. Each apartment has a separate living and dining area, and most of them are equipped with kitchen.

 

Other facilities include business centre, meeting rooms, swimming pool, gym, roof-top terrace and reading lounge.

 

Tan Lai Seng, Ascott’s regional general manager for Japan and Korea, said: “Since we started operations in Japan more than 10 years ago, Ascott has built a strong reputation with our Citadines and Somerset brands. Many of our customers have been eagerly anticipating the opening of our first Ascott-branded property in the country,”

 

“With Japan’s growing economy, Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo’s strategic location where many multinational companies and major Japanese banks and companies are based, and its timely opening ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, we are confident that the serviced residence will be a draw for discerning business and leisure travellers seeking a world class experience and the comforts of home.”

 

Capitaland also operates six other properties in the city. They are Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo, Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo, Somerset Azabu East Tokyo, Somerset Ginza East Tokyo, Somerset Shinagawa Tokyo and Roppongi Residences.

 

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Ascott to add six new China properties by 2019

Citadines Qingshan SCPG Centre Wuhan

Serviced residence group The Ascott Limited has been expanding rapidly in Asia-Pacific over the past six months, with the opening of properties in Thailand, India, South Korea, Hong Kong and Melbourne, to name a few. Now the company is set to further expand its footprint in China with the signing of management agreements for six new properties across as many cities.

The agreement follows Ascott’s earlier announcement late last year to open eight new properties in China by 2020. The latest signing will see this footprint expand further, with the addition of more than 1,200 apartment units in Changsha, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Handan and Xuzhou.

“China is Ascott’s fastest-growing and largest market,” said Ascott’s recently appointed managing director for China, Tan Tze Shang. “Our investment in [online holiday-rental service] Tujia has spurred our growth in China and expanded our reach to more customers through online and offline channels.

“Our bookings in China have increased through Tujia’s website and we will be able to cater to the rapidly growing outbound Chinese travellers with the listing of our properties worldwide on the website by the first half of this year.”

Ascott plans to open more than 30 properties globally this year, with just over half of those being located in China. Of the six new properties Ascott has signed management agreements for, the Citadines Sunhope e-Metro Shenzhen in Guangdong is set to become the company’s largest property in China when it opens this year. Meanwhile, the Citadines Qingshan SCPG Centre Wuhan and Tujia Somerset Jundu Tianjin are scheduled for a 2018 opening, while Ascott Xiangjiang FFC Changsha, Citadines Yunlong Lake Xuzhou and Tujia Somerset Congtai Handan will open in 2019.

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Ascott launches new Lyf brand for millennial travellers

Lyf Big Bed studio room

Serviced residence brand The Ascott Limited has begun directly targeting millennial travellers with the launch of its new Lyf brand (pronounced “life”) of serviced apartments. The new brand is designed to offer a more community-based experience that connects guests with other travellers and will be tailored for and managed by millennials.

These managers, known as “Lyf Guards”, will act as community managers, city and food guides, bar keepers and “problem solvers”, and may even be residents themselves. Ascott aims for these Guards, along with guests and partners, to be able to conduct activities such as workshops with local craftsmen, innovation talks, and “hackathons” – large-scale computer programming gatherings – with local start-up accelerators.

The launch of a new millennial-focused brand comes as the company predicts a growth in its customers from this demographic. According to Ascott’s CEO, Lee Chee Koon, “millennials already form a quarter of Ascott’s customers and this segment is poised to grow exponentially. Lyf is a unique accommodation tailored for this demographic, including technopreneurs (technology entrepreneurs), start-ups and individuals from music, media and fashion.” Ascott aims to have approximately 10,000 units under the Lyf brand globally by 2020.

The new brand is expected to operate in key gateways cities across the world, with cities in Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the UK currently under consideration. Residences will be provided in a variety of layouts, including studios, twin rooms sharing a single kitchen, and business suites with display screens for video conferencing and a collaborative working and dining area.

While each property is expected to offer a “unique personality”, according to the company, common features including communal “Connect” working spaces that can operate as venues for workshops or social gatherings will be offered at all properties. Lyf serviced residencies will also feature a “Wash & Hang” Laundromat featuring a foosball table for guests to use while waiting for their laundry, as well as a social kitchen offering communal cooking spaces and classes. Meanwhile interactive digital art, large-scale ball pits, hamster wheels and oversized Connect Four games will also be offered.

The launch of the new Lyf brand comes as Ascott aims to bring a total of 80,000 units across its brands online by 2020, and follows the opening of Asia’s first Crest Collection Hotel earlier this month and the announcement of numerous new properties in India and the Middle East in October.

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Ascott adds three properties to India pipeline

Infinity pool at the Somerset Greenways Chennai

Singapore-based serviced residences group, The Ascott Limited is set to manage three new properties in India, following an agreement with Sandhya Hotels. The new accommodations, set to open between 2019 and 2021, will add to the group’s rapidly growing India pipeline, which currently includes five new properties slated to open between Q4 this year and 2019.

The upcoming Somerset Bellandur Bangalore will join the group’s other planned property in the city, Somerset Galleria Bangalore, which is set to open next year. Meanwhile, the other two new properties, the Citadines Financial District Hyderabad and the Citadines Sri City, will be the group’s first residences in the two cities.

Located close to Bangalore International Airport and technology hubs Whitefield and Electronic City, Somerset Bellandur Bangalore will have the highest capacity of the group’s three newly announced properties, featuring 150 units in studio, one- and two-bedroom set ups. The 110-unit Citadines Financial District Hyderabad will offer studio and one-bedroom apartments, and will be a short distance from IT hub HITEC City. Meanwhile the 100-unit Citadines Sri City will similarly offer studio and one-bedroom residences.

All three will offer facilities such as a gym and swimming pool, along with at least one F&B option, ranging from lounge bars to restaurants. The Citadines Sri City will also include steam and sauna rooms, as well as meeting rooms and residents’ lounge.

Speaking about the announcement, Ascott CEO Lee Chee Koon, said: “India attracted over US$39 billion worth of foreign investments in 2015, a 37 per cent increase compared with 2014. Tourist arrivals are also on an upturn as India welcomed more than eight million visitors last year. India’s fast-growing economy, increasing visitor arrivals and rising affluence present immense opportunities for international brands like Ascott.

“Our strategy for India is to expand in high-growth cities where there is strong demand for international-class serviced residences from expatriates, project teams and business travellers… Besides cities such as Bangalore, Chennai and Gurgaon where Ascott is present, we are also looking at opportunities in key business cities including Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune.”

In addition to the newly announced properties, Ascott will be opening its new Citadines OMR Chennai later this year, while its Ascott Ireo City Gurgaon and Somerset Diplomatic Greens Gurgaon are scheduled to open in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

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Ascott unveils newly renovated Ascott Makati serviced residence

Ascott Makati Renovated Two-Bedroom Living Room 2016

The Ascott Limited has just completed a renovation of its Ascott Makati serviced apartments and facilities in Manila. The refurbishment of the dual-tower, 362-unit Ascott Makati, which is located within the Glorietta Shopping Complex, is taking place in two stages with the first tower now having been completely renovated and work set to begin on the second tower in the first quarter of 2017.

Key features of the new apartments are expansive living and dining spaces, with guests able to choose from studios, one- to three-bedroom apartments along with three penthouses with balconies. Fully equipped kitchens, home entertainment systems and wireless internet are also standard across the residences.

“Our newly upgraded Ascott Makati is set to outclass all other serviced residences in the Philippines with its sophisticated and understated luxury,” says Arthur Gindap, regional general manager for the Philippines and Thailand. “The exclusive serviced residence offers world-class services that are attentive yet discreet, and an extensive range of facilities, designed to cater to discerning business executives and their families.

Gindap adds that the residences are particularly convenient for long-staying guests on relocation or project assignments, owing to the apartments’ abundant storage space, amenities such as washer and dryer, and daily housekeeping services. Meanwhile, a number of Ascott Lifestyle activities such as local food trails and festive celebrations enable guests to meet other residents and better familiarise them with the city.

Along with the residences themselves, the lobby, pool and residents’ lounge have also been extensively refurbished, while an upscale restaurant from steakhouse Myron’s, a pool bar named Que and a ballroom and function rooms are soon to be launched. The residences also offer businesses serviced offices for lease, as well as meeting rooms and a business centre.

Currently managing eight serviced residences in Manila and Cebu, Ascott is scheduled to open its two newest additions Citadines Millennium Ortigas Manila in 2017 and Citadines Cebu City, its first Cebu property, in 2019.

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Ascott opens Citadines in Seoul

Citadines Han River Seoul Studio Executive

Ascott Limited has opened its first Citadines-branded property in Seoul.

The Citadines Han River Seoul serviced residence is situated in Yeongdeungpo-gu, close to Yeouido and Gangnam districts. Incheon Airport is roughly one hour away.

The property offers 149 rooms – 56 Studios, 41 Studio Deluxes and 52 Studio Executives – with sizes ranging from 20 to 29 sqm. Alternatively, 22 Studio units can be connected to a Studio Executive, creating a two-bedroom apartment with 49 sqm of space.

All rooms come with a 40-inch LCD television, with cable channels and free wifi. Both Deluxe and Executive categories are equipped with washing machine and a kitchen which has electric kettle, glassware, crockery, cutlery, utensils, microwave oven, fridge, toaster, induction cooker and rice cooker. Housekeeping services are available three times per week.

The residence also offers 24-hour reception, fitness corner, and a residents’ lounge.

The opening of the 149-unit Citadines Han River Seoul marks Ascott’s continued expansion in South Korea, with more than 1,000 units now in operation including the 410-unit Somerset Palace Seoul and 468-unit Citadines Haeundae Busan.

Max Phillips, Ascott’s country general manager for Korea, commented: “Citadines Han River Seoul is our second Citadines-branded serviced residence in South Korea, catering to the growing number of independent travellers who prefer the flexibility to choose the services according to their lifestyles.”

Two Citadines also started operation early this week in Hong Kong – Citadines Harbourview Hong Kong and Citadines Mercer Hong Kong.

For more information, visit the-ascott.com .

Valerian Ho