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Minor Hotel Group: Varying pleasures for better investment

Hotel division of the Thai group Minor International, Minor Hotel Group appears to have taken to heart the proverb “Good things come to those who wait”. After acquiring solid foundations in Thailand, it began to develop its brands Anantara, and then Avani, on the Asian continent before expanding to other markets in the Southern hemisphere, Oceania and Africa. To accelerate its growth, the group also diversified its operating modes, its activities and its portfolio of destinations. Today the group’s dynamism and ambition could lead it to explore other lands and make it one of the most important hotel investor in the Southern hemisphere.

Minor International may congratulate itself on being able to develop its network over the years to impose itself as a major player on the Thai market and now the Southern hemisphere. Minor Hotels Group successfully positioned itself on the upscale segment, with its brands Anantara and Avani, while it invested in partnerships with international hotel operators such as Four Seasons or Marriott. Following its growth strategy the Thai group met up with Oaks and Elewana, which allowed it to expand its network to the African and Australian continents. There is no doubt that Minor Hotels has more trumps up its sleeve that will help it continue to grow on the international market.

An ambitious course of development

Minor International was founded in Thailand in 1978 by William Ellwood Heinecke, an American-born Thai businessman. His first property was Royal Garden Resorts, founded in a hotel in Pattaya. The group quickly diversified and expanded its activities with the inauguration of the Royal Food Group in 1980, beginning with a pizzeria, and following with the development in Thailand of the American ice cream brand Swensen starting in 1986. In 1988, Royal Garden Resorts was introduced to the stock market, earning it a real position as an investment group and greater visibility. The group continued to invest in the restaurant and hotel industries for several years and finally launched in 2001 what would later become the Minor Hotel Group’s signature brand, Anantara. Anantara began with the conversion of the 5-star hotel Royal Garden Village Hua Hin, that became the spearhead of the new luxury brand. Another important date is 2005, which marks the name change of the Royal Garden Resort to Minor International, and thus the Minor Hotel Group as we know it today. The group’s activities had focused on Thailand, but the opening of a restaurant in Kuwait in 2003 already suggested Minor’s ambition to grow internationally. Until then the group had diversified its operating modes in Thailand, developing partnerships with different international operators in hotels it owns or has a stake in, such as JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa. Next came a period of heightened activity for Minor, when it made several investments in groups such as Serendib Hotel Limited in Sri Lanka in 2007, Elewana Africa in 2008 and the acquisition of 80% of the Avani Katalura in 2008. Also in Sri Lanka, the Katalura becomes the first hotel of the brand Avani. 2011 sees Minor take over Oaks Hotels and Resorts, an Australian hotel chain.

At the same time the group develops new Anantara hotels and ends up expanding its luxury brand from Thailand throughout the rest of Asia and the Middle East and Africa. Thus, the brand was introduced in 2006 in the Maldives and the Emirates, then Vietnam, China and Indonesia, and in Cambodia and Mozambique from 2013. The brand Avani, meanwhile, is established in Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and will soon open in Thailand with the conversion of the Atrium Bangkok. 

In all, the brand Anantara had 32 properties and 3 665 rooms as of mid-2014 while Avani had 14 and 2 642 rooms. The first of the two brands cis to expand in 2014, with the opening of new hotels in Thailand, Doha in Qatar and Sichuan in China in the spring. The destinations of Mauritius, Chongqing and Zhejiang in China will  follow in the course of the year. Two more Anantara hotels will open in China in 2015.

Diversity as a positive force for development

If the group Minor International can today claim more than 118 hotels, this is also because it must be taken into consideration that Minor owns, manages or is involved in joint-ventures with hotels operated by other major groups, which allows it to be present in an increasing number of countries. Minor is the majority stakeholder of 21 hotels including the St. Regis Bangkok, four Four Seasons properties in Thailand, and a JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Phuket and the Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa. Joint-venture contracts have made it possible for the group to establish itself in the Maldives with 2 Anantara hotels as well as the Niyama by Per Aquum and the Naladhu Maldives by Anantara, in Kenya and in Tanzania with 7 hotels under the Elewana brand, in Mozambique with Radisson Blu, and finally in Sri Lanka through two properties owned by its partner Serendib Leisure. The group also has management contracts for operations at several Anantara hotels in Thailand and in China, an Elewana property in Tanzania, and two hotels by Per Aquum in the Emirates and in the Maldives. Finally, the acquisition of 100% of shares in the Australian chain Oaks Hotels and Resort Limited in 2011 put the group in control of the management of 44 properties with more than 5,800 rooms in Australia, New Zealand and Dubai. More recently in 2013, Minor Hotel Group signed a partnership with Rani Investment, marking another stage in the group’s strategy to establish the group in East Africa.

Minor Hotel Group is already present in Africa with about thirty hotels in the region: Tanzania, Kenya, the Maldives, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho. By the end of 2014 the group should finalize a deal to acquire shares in 8 hotels in Africa, through a 61.4 million dollar investment.

After expanding its footprint in Southeast Asia, then Asia Pacific, Minor Hotel Group is becoming a  key investor and operator in the Southern hemisphere.

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