PHUKET (eTN) – Impiana Hotels would rather keep a low profile, internationally. The four-star hotel chain, originated from Malaysia and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the KAB Group, is so far only present in Malaysia, with properties in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Cherating on the east coast, as well as in Samui and Phuket.
The group just opened the magnificent Kata Noi property, its first boutique villa resort concept composed of four private villas and seven suites, nestled on a hill in premier Thailand resort destination. The group has the ambition to go beyond both destinations.
“Malaysia is, of course, our first country to locate as our home land. However, Malaysia does not grow as fast as other destinations in the region such as Bali or Thailand. We then moved naturally to Southern Thailand because of its worldwide notoriety, its strong appeal, and its reputation for excellent service,” explained Mohamad Halim Merican, general manager for Impiana Hotels at its headquarters. Impiana now has three properties in the South, including two in Phuket.
Impiana wants to position itself as a solid four-star brand with a boutique concept. “Many hotels claim to be five-star but can rather disappoint their guests as they cannot always provide the level of service that customers would expect. We prefer to concentrate on an excellent four-star product,” said Merican. Size will also matter to attract more guests to the various properties of the group. So far, the Kuala Lumpur property – next to the Petronas Towers – and the Phuket property in Patong give visibility to international markets. “In Malaysia, we look at managing new hotels in Penang, Sabah, and Johor Bahru where we feel a strong demand. We, of course, [are] look[ing] seriously at a property in Bangkok. This is a main international hub and a landing point for travelers in Southeast Asia. Krabi and Bali are also places where we want to move next in the region,” added Merican.
For Impiana general manager,brand notoriety would definitely get a boost with a presence outside Asia. “I can tell that the Middle East has a high priority for us. We are seriously considering moving into markets such as Medina, Mecca, or Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. And we also [keep an] eye [open for] a property in London, a very important place to be to get exposure in Europe,” he told. “I see our brand expanding until 2012 by two to three more properties. And Maybe London and Bali could be very soon part of this move.”
Impiana is also looking to rebrand its various properties. “We want to promote three types of hotels: Private villas such as the ones at Kata Noi are the first one in this category. We see also a resort brand such as in Patong, Cherating, and Samui; and finally, city hotels such as the ones we have in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh,” added Mr. Merican.