Okura builds presence in Thailand

Already present on the international stage, Japan's Hotel Okura is keen to further expand its portfolio of hotels outside Japan, and a new partnership in Thailand aims to take advantage of booming tourism.

Japan’s Hotel Okura has signed a partnership that will see its business expand substantially across Thailand, supported by a local development partner.

The framework agreement with Thai real estate developer Asset World Corporation will see the pair jointly deliver a number of hotels by 2030, and also extends to a new river cruises business. The first property will be a new hotel opening in Chiang Mai in 2028.

Combining Thai and Japanese design themes

The Chiang Mai Okura hotel will be part of AWC’s Lannatique commercial development in the city’s Chang Klan area. Drawing on ancient local themes, and combining them with modern art from Japan, the property will include a spa, Zen garden and Japanese tea cafe.

In addition to this first collaboration, other projects are under consideration, for locations including Bangkok, with the aim of taking Okura’s open and pipeline portfolio in the country to more than 2,000 rooms, by 2030. Okura launched in Thailand in 2012, opening the Okura Prestige hotel in Bangkok and has already partnered with AWC on new hotels.

The additions will feed into Okura’s growth plans, which have a target of taking the group to 150 hotels by 2030, half of which will be outside Japan; additions will be particularly focused on tapping the growth in tourism across Asian countries. Later this year, Okura Cruise river excursions will launch, as AWC works with the Japanese hotelier on building a cruise ship business along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

Building out three brands

Hotel Okura operates three brands, and currently has properties across China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines; it also has a presence in the USA, and in Europe has hotels in the Netherlands and Turkey. The Nikko brand is the group’s largest, with 22 hotels in Japan and a further 17 internationally. Under the Okura brand, the group has 25 hotels, of which 16 are spread across Japan. And the majority owned JAL brand has 15 properties in its home market of Japan.

Okura’s current development pipeline includes three international openings previously announced for launch in 2027. These are the 249 room Hotel Okura Suzhou in China, and the first Japanese branded hotel in Oman, Okura Resort Muscat. And in Vietnam, the 200 room Okura Resort & Spa Phu Quoc is in development, promising guests the unique experience of watching the sun set over the ocean from Long Beach.

Asset World Corporation is one of Thailand’s progressive conglomerates, developing and owning real estate across three sectors: hospitality, retail and commercial. In the hospitality sector, it currently owns 22 hotels across Thailand, partnering with international brands including Marriott and its Sheraton and Courtyard brands, Hilton and Doubletree, plus IHG and its Holiday Inn Express brand. In the first quarter of 2024, the group’s hotels delivered record performance as Thai tourism bounced back after the pandemic, with an occupancy averaging 74.8% and ebitda up 60% year on year.