Minor Hotels’ new brand extension, AVANI+, aims to take things slightly higher by using, “a little bit extra” to enhance the existing brand without creating a new one. We spoke to Alejandro Bernabe-Navarro, vice president of operations for AVANI Hotels and Resorts told Travel Daily.
“The little bit extra will be three things location, design and more facilities and F&B outlets,” Bernabe-Navarro told Travel Daily. While AVANI properties currently offer both international and all-day dining the new tier of the franchise will go one step further in how guests are catered to. That’s what makes the AVANI into an AVANI ‘plus’.
“AVANI+ will have at least one additional signature restaurant or a facility, such as a rooftop bar,” he added, giving as an example Attitude, the Rooftop bar at the AVANI Riverside in Bangkok due to be rebranded as a ‘plus’ in the next three to four months.
Franchise chains are not going to be invited to join but rather an additional, probably profile restaurant specific to each property will be a new minimum. “It will depend on the location,” he said when asked about types. Facilities are also part of the upgrade.
“In all the AVANI+ there will be a spa,” said Bernabe-Navarro adding in resorts under theextension brand villas will be mandatory. (For reference and to show how subtle the distinction between the mainstream and the Plus is, as well as why AVANI+ is not a new brand; in AVANIs spas are “strongly encouraged,” but not mandatory, he added.)
Not another cookie-cutter hotel
Design is another illustration of the new level although there is a balancing act between making the most of a property’s individuality and keeping it part of a global chain. “We are not going to be the same cookie-cutter hotel,” said Bernabe-Navarre.
AVANI+ plans to take it to the next level, using more non-standard style so its future portfolio will be developed to be international in terms of style and design, with a touch of local personality, he went on to explain.
The new signature, as AVANI regards its upcoming Plus properties, started with the acquisition of a well-placed and historic hotel in Luang Prabang Laos, a locations which both triggered and supported the new approach. “Very Luang Prabang but very modern at the same time,” he said of the first Plus property.
It is already proving lucrative to its owners. “We are running at between 70%-85% occupancy at an average rate of USD 220++,” he told us. This fits snugly into what is happening across the brand. “All the properties are doing well; financially the brand is doing well,” said Bernabe-Navarre.
And it could do even better in the future, as moving up a tier within the franchise will reflect in the rate. Again it depends on the property but Bernabe-Navarro suggested increases of up to 100% in Thailand were possible. “A lot of this is driven by the location,” he confirmed.
“We are running at between 70%-85% occupancy at an average rate of USD 220++”
Because of this owners Minor Hotels intend to keep close to their usual business approach with the plan being for a mix of owned, managed and joint-venture hotels in Asia where already the highest growth is in South East Asia.
“Very soon,” according to Bernabe-Navarro, an AVANI+ will opening in Yangon in Myanmar followed by AVANI+ in – Koh Samui, Khao Lak, Riverside Bangkok, Maldives and potentially Hua Hin with AVANI planned for Busan in South Korea and Muscat in Oman, which will include residences.
“The rule of thumb is just under a third, or some 30% of its new projects will be AVANI+, said Bernabe-Navarro.