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The company, which is a subsidiary of real estate giant CapitaLand, recently secured contracts to manage five more properties comprising 1,000 apartment units in the cities of Yinchuan, Changsha, Shenyang and Xi’an. These take the company’s Chinese inventory to more than 12,000 serviced apartments, representing almost a third of its Asia Pacific total of 37,000 units.

Ascott serviced apartment in China

Citadines Xingqing Yinchuan and Somerset Xingqing Yinchuan will mark Ascott’s entry into the capital of northern China’s Ningxia region
Citadines Xingqing Yinchuan and Somerset Xingqing Yinchuan will mark Ascott’s entry into the capital of northern China’s Ningxia region
“China is Ascott’s fastest growing market. As the world’s second largest economy, it continues to present tremendous opportunities. Urbanisation, increasing business activities and rising domestic affluence in key Chinese cities fuel strong demand for our serviced residences,” explained Ascott’s CEO, Lee Chee Koon.

“Since bringing Ascott from our home base in Singapore to China in 1998, we have grown to become China’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, with 69 properties across 23 cities. This year alone, we have added some 2,600 apartment units in China. Having crossed our target of 12,000 apartment units ahead of 2015, we are now aiming at 20,000 units in China by 2020,” he added.

By this time, Ascott’s Chinese collection is expected to account for a quarter of its targeted global inventory of 80,000 units.

The latest five additions of Ascott’s portfolio demonstrate the company’s increasing focus on emerging second tier Chinese cities. The 200-unit Citadines Xingqing Yinchuan, 150-unit Somerset Xingqing Yinchuan and 164-unit Somerset Riverside Changsha will mark Ascott’s entry into two new markets, Yinchuan and Changsha – the respective capitals of the Ningxia region and Hunan province.

All three properties are due to open in 2018, and the Yinchuan properties mark the first time Citadines- and Somerset-branded serviced residences have been co-located in the same development.

Ascott has also signed its second property in Shenyang, the 330-unit Somerset Olympic Centre Shenyang, and its fifth property in Xi’an, the 156-unit Somerset Xindicheng Xi’an. These serviced residences will open in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014, Ascott now operates 24,000 serviced apartment units in Asia Pacific, with a further 12,000 in the pipeline.

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“This brings Ascott closer to its target of achieving 12,000 apartment units in China by 2015,” said Ascott in a release, adding that this has cemented the company’s leadership position as the largest international serviced residence owner-operator in the country with 56 properties across 20 cities.

Ascott

The milestone comes on the back of Ascott securing contracts to manage four more properties with a total of 797 apartment units in Hangzhou, Chongqing and Shenzhen. The 230-unit Somerset IOC Hangzhou, 185-unit Somerset Changbin Chongqing, 182-unit Ascott Raffles City Shenzhen and 200-unit Yantian Coast Serviced Residence Shenzhen are slated to open in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

In addition, Ascott has opened the 298-unit Ascott Raffles City Chengdu and 257-unit Somerset Wusheng Wuhan this year.

Mr Kevin Goh, Ascott’s Managing Director for North Asia, said: “We are pleased that Ascott has crossed a milestone of having 10,000 apartment units in China and is on track to achieve 12,000 units by 2015. Besides the first tier cities, we are expanding in high growth cities like Hangzhou and Chongqing. These cities have strong potential for economic growth and foreign investments which will generate a large demand for serviced residences. In China this year, we have so far clinched 13 management contracts and acquired a prime property in Hong Kong. Our China portfolio increased by more than 2,100 apartment units compared to 2012.”

Mr Goh added: “Since we brought Ascott from our home base in Singapore to China in 1998, more real estate owners have been seeking partnerships with us due to our exceptional track record in constantly adding value to both the properties and our customers. More expatriates and travellers are also choosing to stay at our serviced residences. Besides spacious apartments with separate living and dining areas and a fully-equipped kitchen, residents will enjoy privacy, the comfort of a home and top quality services. In the next five years, Ascott will be opening 27 more properties with over 4,300 units in China.”

Source : http://sbr.com.sg

Long popular with expat managers, top amenities and security now appeal to more Chinese, Han Tianyang reports.
Ascott China, the world’s leading owner and operator of serviced residences, plans to maintain rapid growth in China by adding eight to 10 new serviced apartments every year over the next three to five years, according to a senior executive.

“We will buy at least two properties and operate six to eight new properties under management contracts every year,” says Tan Tze Shang, Ascott China’s regional general manager for the north and central western regions.
The Singapore-headquartered company now operates 42 properties in 17 cities in China, with half owned by Ascott and the rest under management contracts.

Both business modes are important for the company, says Tan.
Managing properties for a third-party owner facilitates rapid expansion and is a more prudent way to explore investment opportunities in a new city, he notes.
And as the Chinese government strengthens regulation of the real estate market to avoid speculative bubbles, it is good for owners to have Ascott’s professional teams manage their properties and increase the value of the properties, he says.

But Ascott will also look for “the best opportunities” to invest in new properties, Tan says, because real estate transactions are a major source of profit for Ascott.
It has now brought its entire product line to China – the flagship Ascott brand with luxurious furnishings for senior executives, Citadines with a target market of single business travelers and Somerset properties that have a warmer feel for family guests.
Unlike standard hotels, the company has various types of apartment units – from one to four bedrooms, most of them with kitchens – where clients often live for months or even years. They offer better security and housekeeping services than most apartment complexes.

“What we offer is a home away from home,” Tan says, adding Ascott’s international brand strength frequently makes it the first choice for foreign management professionals and their families in China.

“In first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou our customers are mostly foreigners who live for one to two years at a time,” Tan says.
As more local customers begin to accept the concept of serviced residences, Ascott is now seeing increasing numbers of Chinese guests.
“In second-tier cities like Xi’an and Chengdu, about half of our customers are Chinese who usually stay for one to three months.”

Responding to the trend, the company has changed the style in some apartments to cater to local tastes instead of copying the decor of apartments offered to Western residents.
The management team is also localized to help the company better understand customer requirements, says Tan, who has been in China since 2000. The Malaysian, who is a permanent resident of Singapore, speaks fluent Chinese.
“I feel just like a fish in water,” he says. “As a representative for a Singaporean company, I can serve as a bridge here because I can better communicate with local staff.”

The company’s presence in the central western region is its smallest compared to the north, east and south of China, but it has great potential with more foreign investment coming, burgeoning tourism and business travel, Tan says.
When Ascott Raffles City Chengdu and Somerset Gaoxin Xi’an open next year, the company will have seven properties operating in the region with a total 1,437 units, but North China remains the biggest market for Ascott. A new Somerset will open in Beijing next year, bringing its number of serviced apartments in the capital alone to more than 1,200.
Ascott has about 8,000 units in China, close to 30 percent of its global total. The number is expected to reach 12,000 by 2015, Tan said.

North Asia including China, Japan and South Korea is the fastest growing region for the company, he says.