Ascott appoints industry veteran to accelerate asset-light strategy

CapitaLand Investment’s lodging business The Ascott Limited has brought in an experienced executive to be its new chief growth officer.

Serena Lim will lead Ascott’s global business development team and will be responsible for steering and managing the company’s growth in management and franchise contracts globally, excluding China, where development will continue to be led by the in-market team.

Development ambitions

Reporting directly to Ascott’s CEO, Kevin Goh, Lim is primed to accelerate the group’s development ambitions through an asset-light growth strategy that will deliver strong recurring fee income.

In her new role, she sits alongside other executive members of the Ascott Management Committee, where collectively, they will aim to propel Ascott’s growth and deliver on its vision to be a global leader in the hospitality industry through strategic investment and hospitality management.

Expert career

Most recently in the role of vice president, development, Southeast Asia and Korea at the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Lim was responsible for leading IHG’s development strategy and extended growth teams in the region. A key member of the leadership team, she played an integral role in implementing initiatives to align culture with strategy and processes.

Prior to joining IHG, Lim was responsible for development efforts in Southeast Asia at Marriott International, where she held the role of regional vice president. She spent early parts of her career with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, where she led the company’s expansion across Southeast Asia.

She studied at Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration, where she graduated on the Dean’s List with a Bachelor of Science (Distinction) in Hotel Administration and a Major in Finance.

Portfolio expansion

Goh detailed: “We believe in investing in the right talents to support our growth ambitions while strengthening our lodging management capabilities. Serena joins us with over two decades of industry experience, and her wealth of knowledge and experience in establishing long-term owner relations is key for us as we seek new opportunities to extend our geographic reach across key growth markets. 

“With her in-depth expertise in building and leading large development teams in global hospitality groups and her track-record in delivering tangible results, I am confident that under her leadership, we will grow the business to new heights of success as we continue the rapid expansion of our property portfolio across all brands over the next few years.”

Next stage

Lim herself said: “I am excited to join Ascott and play a key role in its next stage of growth. The pandemic has since brought about a shift in the needs and expectations from asset owners and our priority now is to deepen our engagement with existing owners whilst pursuing added opportunities to establish new owner relations.

“Ascott’s portfolio of global brands such as Ascott, Citadines, Somerset, lyf and Oakwood caters well to the evolving expectations of guests across both the short and long stay markets. In keeping to the core strengths of each brand spanning our diverse accommodation options including hotels, serviced residences and coliving, we have been able to exercise flexibility in our offerings so as to optimise returns based on market demand.

“With a resilient business model backed by decades of disciplined growth Ascott has established through operational excellence, the ability to drive premium rated business and outperform the market though our robust distribution systems will put us in a highly competitive position that will ultimately deliver the value that our owners seek.”

According to THP data, over 200 sites are already due to join the group’s system, including Somerset Future Center Wuhan, a 171-key extended stay property scheduled to open in China in Q4 2023; the 252-room Citadines Walker North Sydney, which will join the firm’s Australian portfolio in Q2 2023; and Preference Hotel Poh Chaopraya, Bangkok, adding 44 rooms to the Thai capital in Q1 2024.