By The Nation
Management agreements have been signed between Centara, a leading hotel operator in Thailand, and the Asia Investment, Development & Construction Sole Co. Ltd (AIDC), a well-established enterprise in Laos.
In the Unesco World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, Centara plans to open the “upper upscale” Centara Grand Luang Prabang and a midscale Centra by Centara property, both near the town centre.
The third property will be under Centara’s new lifestyle brand, COSI, catering to the growing segment of connected, freedom-loving travellers. It will represent a unique offering in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, according to a news release on Tuesday.
The management agreement comes as Laos launches ambitious new plans to promote tourism. In recent years, the government of the Lao PDR has come to regard tourism as a priority sector for driving socio-economic development. It hopes to attract 5 million visitors in 2018 and to increase the numbers in the years ahead with a Visit Laos campaign under the slogan “Simply Beautiful.”
The country’s picturesque mountains, atmospheric towns, and humble friendliness are being discovered by Thai, Chinese and Western visitors.
And it has one factor particularly in its favour: superb value. According to a new report from the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, Laos ranks 14th among 136 countries in price competitiveness.
“This partnership with AIDC is a great opportunity to expand our footprint into a distinctive country,” said Centara CEO Thirayuth Chirathivat. “Laos is on the list of more and more travellers to this region, and we want to serve them with the distinct and varied accommodation options to match the travel experience they are seeking.”
Luang Prabang is the well-preserved, old spiritual city at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers. Although well-served by direct flights to its airport and modern amenities, it lives up to its World Heritage status with beautiful temples and traditional riverside life. Bicycles outnumber cars. Delicious baguettes, croissants, cafés and French restaurants hint at the French colonial history in both Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
Pheutsapha Phoummasak, president of AIDC Laos said, “We are excited to partner with Centara to bring their trusted brands to these great cities and further promote the tourism potential of Laos. Luang Prabang and Vientiane are very popular destinations for both Thai and international travellers thanks to their perfect blend of history, beautiful scenery and charming character.”
The three new hotels are the latest evidence of Centara’s expansion strategy, which calls for doubling the number of properties under its management over the next five years. This latest development will see Centara’s hotel count in Laos reach four, with Centara Plumeria Resort Pakse already well under development and scheduled to open in 2020.