The Ascott Singapore
There are currently five brands operating under The Ascott Limited umbrella. The eponymous Ascott brand is the group’s flagship, however it’s the Citadines Apart’hotel brand that is its fastest growing globally, according to country general manager for Vietnam Lew Yen Ping, who recently oversaw the opening of the first Citadines Apart’hotel in Vietnam on July 17, 2017.
Also constituting a significant footprint is the group’s Somerset serviced residence brand, along with the recently acquired Quest. However, Ascott also has two other key brands that are still in their infancy – the high-end Crest Collection, which opened its first hotel in Asia, the Metropole Bangkok, in November 2016, as well as its recently launched Lyf brand (pronounced “life”) aimed at millennial-minded travellers.
At the time of writing, more than 500 properties are currently in operation and under development within Ascott’s portfolio, constituting over 40,000 units and a further 26,000 in the pipeline.
With a portfolio across 120 cities in 30 countries, Ascott has a number of major markets, and while its home market of Singapore currently features seven of the group’s properties, it is by no means its largest.
That title, perhaps unsurprisingly, goes to mainland China, where the group recently pushed its footprint over the 100-property mark with the addition of seven new serviced residences at the beginning of July. That said, many of these are still in development (the aforementioned seven properties are all expected to open over the next two years, with the exception of the Tujia Somerset Garden City Chongqing that is already in operation). Nevertheless, this year alone it has already added 15 properties in the country so far.
However, Ascott has also recently made a massive jump in the number of properties in its Australasia portfolio – so much so that it now lays claim to the title of largest serviced-residence provider in the region. This growth came in early July, when it acquired an additional 60 per cent stake in Australasia-based Quest Apartment Hotels (bringing its total stake to 80 per cent), effectively bringing the company’s 11,000 units into Ascott’s portfolio. (Ascott operates just five properties under its own brands – Citadines and Somerset – in Australia.)
Other significant markets with properties in operation and in development include France (28 properties total), Vietnam (20 properties total), Thailand (18 properties total – including the recently opened Somerset Ekamai Bangkok), Malaysia (14 properties total), and the Philippines (14 properties total).
Less of a rewards programme and more of an up-front discounts and benefits scheme, Ascott Online Advantage provides regular guests with certain complimentary benefits. There aren’t any tiers, just a flat, free membership that opens up access to these offerings.
Among them are: 10 per cent off best flexible rates year-round; seasonal offers of up to 50 per cent off best flexible rates; a 25 per cent birthday discount e-voucher; airport transfers; apartment category upgrades; breakfast and daily newspaper; wifi and local phone calls; and early check-in and late check-out.
More on the rewards side of things, however, Ascott does have agreements with Asia Miles and Krisflyer, the frequent-flyer programmes for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, and Singapore Airlines, respectively.
Asia Miles members get 150 miles for every night spent at a participating serviced residence (minimum two consecutive nights to be eligible up to a maximum of 200 nights, a full list of participating properties can be found here).
Krisflyer members also get 150 miles for every eligible night at a participating Ascott, Citadines, Somerset and The Crest Collection property, with the minimum stay determined by each individual serviced residence. (Miles can be accrued for up to a maximum of one year, a full list of participating properties can be found here.)
Ascott’s development plans are extensive. Overall, the company has a further 26,000 units across a number of properties currently in the pipeline, which when opened will expand the company’s portfolio by approximately a half. Currently, this is taking the form of an 80,000 units by 2020 goal.
Most notable is the company’s expansion in China. The aforementioned addition of seven new properties to its network (and pipeline) was preceded by an announcement in January 2017 that it would add six other new properties in the country by 2019. Another indication of the company’s focus on the Chinese market is the fact that two of its first three properties under the new Lyf brand will be located in China – Shenzhen in the south and Dalian in the northeast, both of which are expected to open in 2018.
That said, Ascott isn’t forgetting its home base of Singapore, and so far the largest of its new Lyf properties is expected to be the Lyf Farrer Park Singapore, which will include 240 units (about the same as the Shenzhen and Dalian properties combined). “As global fintech hubs, China and Singapore are also homes to start-ups raking in billion-dollar deals,” said Ascott’s CEO Lee Chee Koon when the new properties were announced. “We are therefore expecting to see more Lyf properties in gateway cities in China as well as another Lyf in downtown Singapore.”
The company is also looking ahead to new markets, both in Asia-Pacific and beyond. Along with its first property in Jeju, which opened earlier this year, Ascott also recently launched its first Ascott the Residence in Japan. Meanwhile in December 2016, the group acquired its first property in Ireland, the Temple Bar Hotel, which the group plans to rebrand at a later date, while in 2018 it expects to open a renovated serviced residence on New York’s Fifth Avenue, marking its entrance to the US market (the property is currently open and operating as the Hotel Central Fifth Avenue New York).