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The Ascott Limited has secured its first franchise agreements in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, for an operating serviced residence in the city that will be rebranded as a 116 unit Somerset Vientiane later this year and a 194 unit Citadines Kuta Beach Bali, scheduled to open in August.

The new franchise agreements mark a new milestone for Ascott and will be one of the company’s growth drivers for the future, allowing it to build rapidly in existing markets and expand into new ones.

“Since opening our first property in Singapore 30 years ago, Ascott has grown to be the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator and through franchise agreements, we have added two more cities to our portfolio to reach 85 cities worldwide,” Ascott chief executive officer Lee Chee Koon said.

“Together with investments, management contracts and strategic alliances, franchise will bring us closer to achieving our target of 40,000 apartment units globally by 2015.”

As Laos heads towards more economic reforms and creates more special economic zones across the country, the number of expatriates and business travellers to Vientiane is expected to increase, generating a significant demand for serviced residence in an area where there is currently a lack of international-class serviced residences.

Somerset Vientiane will be strategically located within the major commercial area of the new business and residential Sikhottabong district and is a five minute drive from the Chanthabouli business district and 15 minute drive from Wattay International Airport.

The four star residence features 116 units and modern business and recreational facilities such as tennis court, lap pool, gym, children’s playground, business centre and meeting room.

Meanwhile, Citadines Kuta Beach Bali offers a prime beachfront location in Kuta, and is within walking distance to the retail, dining and entertainment hub of Beachwalk shopping centre.

Featuring a choice of studios and two bedroom apartments, the property boasts panoramic ocean views, a rooftop swimming pool and bar, meeting room and business centre.

The Ascott Limited has launched its second Citadines Apart’hotel in Australia. The new Citadines St Georges Terrace Perth has opened following an AUD$5.1 million and five-month refurbishment of the former Somerset St Georges Terrace Perth.Ascott serviced residence

Located in the centre of the vibrant city of Perth, Citadines St Georges Terrace is the perfect home-base from which to experience modern city living in Australia. Upon entering the main lobby, guests experience a welcoming oasis of calm. A collection of contemporary art pieces by local artists Nick Statham and Kyle Hughes-Odgers express the energy and verve that Perth has to offer and are featured in the lobby and apartments. Inspired by Perth’s skyline and bustling nightlife, the designers used a dark grey base with pops of crimson or yellow to bring the perfect marriage of calmness and contemporary chic into the property’s 85 studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Citadines is located in the heart of Perth’s Business District, the perfect position for doing business in the city. Its prime location is within walking distance to art galleries, restaurants, bars, department stores and many quality boutiques at Murray Street and Hay Street Malls. To complete the picture perfect setting, the property is just a street away from the Esplanade that overlooks the Swan River.

Citadines St Georges Terrace Perth is the second Citadines-branded property in Australia after the award-winning Citadines on Bourke Melbourne which opened in 2010.

Mr Kenneth Rogers, Ascott’s Regional General Manager for Australia and Indonesia, said: “We have rebranded Somerset St Georges Terrace Perth to a Citadines to cater to the growing demand from savvy independent travellers in Australia who value the flexibility to choose the services they require to personalise their stay. Our Citadines on Bourke in Melbourne which is popular among these travellers has been performing well with occupancy of over 80%. Bringing Citadines to Perth will enable us to strengthen our foothold in the city as demand for serviced residences remain strong from the resource and mining sectors.”

Mr Rogers added: “The newly refurbished Citadines is an ideal home away from home for expatriates and business travellers. It has a vibrant design and features a comfortable living environment with a spacious apartment with fully equipped kitchen/kitchenette and unique living areas. Each apartment is equipped with modern amenities such as complimentary WIFI, a home entertainment system with DVD player and flat-screen television with cable channels.”

Ascott acquired the established Citadines chain of Apart’hotels in Europe in 2002 and brought the brand to Asia-Pacific in 2006. With the launch of Citadines St Georges Terrace Perth, there are 61 Citadines-branded properties in key cities around the world. In the next few years, Ascott is scheduled to open 17 more Citadines properties in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Germany.

Besides Citadines St Georges Terrace Perth, Ascott operates Citadines on Bourke and Somerset on Elizabeth Melbourne and Somerset on the Pier and Somerset on Salamanca in Hobart, in Australia.

And the nominees for the World Travel Award are :

Far East Hospitality
Frasers Hospitality
Oakwood Asia Pacific
The Ascott Limited

The selection is not really “original”….but what to do ….