Serviced Apartment Specialist Ascott is Moving into Hotels with Citadines Connect

Main Photo: The Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue, New York

Date: March 2019

Location: Manhattan, Fifth Avenue/Times Square, NY, USA and Mascot, Botany Bay, Sydney Airport, Australia

Name: Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue New York and Citadines Connect Sydney Airport, NSW, Australia

No. of Keys: 125 and 150, respectively.

Seller: NY: Was Hotel Central Fifth Avenue and acquired by Ascott in 2017, who planned then to spend US$50m to refurb and re-opened at Citadines Cennect in September 2018.

Sydney: Was The Felix Hotel – opening as Citadines Connect – May 2019. The hotel only opened in February 2018 and was more or less put on the market immediately for sale by 8Hotels, via JLL and was sold in March 2019 for AUS$60.6m.

Buyer: CapitaLand’s wholly owned lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited, has launched Citadines Connect, a line of business hotels with selected services, to widen its short-stay offerings as it continues to grow its portfolio, as a sub-brand of Citadines.

Citadines Connect will launch with properties in New York and Sydney, this year, aimed at short stay guests, guest rooms will be in the range 18-21 sq metres.

New York: Located in the heart of Manhattan, Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue New York is steps away from Times Square and Fifth Avenue, and a short walk from key attractions such as the Empire State Building, Museum of Modern Art and Grand Central Station.

Citadines Connect business hotels will have tech-enabled features such as mobile keys, self check-in kiosks, smart washing machines or laundromats, content streaming-enabled televisions, and Google cloud printers.

Guests can enjoy the convenience of ‘Grab & Go’ counters offering food and beverage options and daily necessities, common pantry areas, meeting pods, as well as 24/7 gymnasiums. They can also relax at the ‘Refresh and Recharge’ spaces that come with private napping pods with USB charging points, lockers and shower rooms. The hotels offer mostly studio rooms ranging from 18 to 21 square metres.

Mr Alfred Ong, Ascott’s Head for Global Operations, said: “Citadines is Ascott’s fastest growing brand. It has a strong reputation amongst travellers who enjoy the flexibility to choose the services according to their lifestyles.

Riding on the worldwide popularity of the Citadines brand which focuses on the extended-stay market, we are introducing the Citadines Connect sub-brand to capture the short-stay segment.

“We see strong potential for the short-stay segment and hotel rates are rising given the rapid growth in global mobility, leisure travel and a flourishing gig economy. More and more skilled professionals are taking on short-term, freelancing and ad-hoc work assignments which require them to travel frequently.

We will leverage Ascott’s international network and strong management capabilities to bring the Citadines Connect brand to key gateway cities such as Hong Kong, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo as well as popular destinations in Southeast Asia where there is high demand for quality, short-term accommodation.”

Mr Ong added: “By extending our range of product offerings with Citadines Connect, we can scale up our lodging business at a faster rate and further sharpen our expertise in managing hotel assets. Our business partners and guests alike can choose from a wide variety of lodging products that can best cater to their business models, travel patterns, and accommodation needs.”

The two properties to debut under the Citadines Connect brand are in highly attractive locations in the top cosmopolitan cities of Sydney and New York. Ascott is also looking to rebrand its properties such as Temple Bar Hotel Dublin in Ireland and The Domain Hotel Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley, California to Citadines Connect.

Sydney: The 150-unit Citadines Connect Sydney Airport is located in Mascot within the city of Botany Bay. It is within walking distance to the Mascot railway station and Sydney Airport – Australia’s busiest airport – which catered to around 44.4 million passengers in 2018 and is forecast to receive around 60.7 million passengers by 2033.

The 150-unit prime freehold business hotel is currently operating as Felix Hotel and will be rebranded as Citadines Connect Sydney Airport in May 2019. The business parks of Alexandria, Botany, Mascot and Waterloo, The Lakes and The Australian golf clubs as well as the Westfield Eastgardens Shopping Centre are all nearby.

Sydney’s Central Business District is within a 15-minute drive or ride by train. The precinct is further earmarked for development to accommodate future population and employment growth capitalising on its accessibility to public transport.

Sky bar, one of the ‘Refresh & Recharge’ spaces at Citadines Connect Sydney Airport.

Since Ascott acquired the Citadines Apart’hotel serviced residence chain in 2004, it has expanded the Citadines portfolio by about five times from 5,100 apartment units in 18 European cities to about 25,000 units in over 140 properties and 86 cities across Asia Pacific, Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East.

Last year, Ascott invested in TAUZIA Hotel Management, one of Indonesia’s top five hotel operators, to capitalise on opportunities in the growing middle-class hotel segment.

THPT Comment: Interesting move for the company that invented the serviced apartment concept in Asia in the early 1970’s, by the Jumabhoys family – became part of CapitalLand in 2006 as a REIT and has progessed to being probably the largest company in the sector, has chosen to drop into hotels.

They also own London’s Cavendish Hotel for a few years now, but still run it as a hotel…another Citadines Connect?

First Seen: CapitalLand website

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