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Thai Hotel Family Ends Hilton Relationship

Horeca

Nai Lert Park Hotel (NLPH), the company owned by the wealthy Sampatisiri family, has ended its 20 years of partnership, sometimes bumpy, with the Hilton International chain and turned to the Singapore-based Raffles International group to manage its property on Bangkok’s Wireless road.

NLPH, led by Thanpuying Lursakdi Sampatisiri, has resolved not to renew US-based Hilton’s management contract at the end of this year as both parties decided that it was best for them to separate, say insiders who described the split as amicable.

The company had been looking for some time to replace Hilton but only recently settled on Raffles. Senior NLPH executives declined to discuss the matter, pending an official announcement to be made this afternoon by the team led by Thanpuying Lursakdi.Though NLPH executives said the separation with Hilton was “amicable”, insiders said strong competition from the new Conrad Bangkok, another Hilton brand, just a few hundred metres away at All Seasons Place, spurred the breakup.

“Travellers know that Hilton and Conrad are in the same league and they opt for the Conrad Bangkok as it seems to provide more attractive offers in terms of modern facilities and prices,” one hotelier noted. The Hilton International Bangkok, meanwhile, has aged considerably, though there were some renovations in 1989.

The five-floor hotel, with 343 rooms and 37 suites, has lost some of its appeal to newer hotels nearby. Competing five-star hotels now regard Hilton as a four-star hotel that charges five-star rates.With the Raffles name attached, NLPH will be able to differentiate its property and refurbish its image.

The separation would reduce the number of Hilton branded hotels in Thailand to one — the 296-room Hilton Hua Hin Resort and Spa. But it will raise the profile of Raffles in Thailand, which also runs the Merchant Court Hotel at Le Concorde on Ratchadaphisek Road. Merchant Court is a second-tier brand of Raffles, which also has the Swissotel brand.

In the Asia-Pacific, Raffles has operations in Cambodia, China, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore, home of the landmark Raffles Hotel. The NLPH change will be the second major one in the local hotel industry this year. In April, President Hotel and Tower, owned by the Srivikorn family, ended its long-standing ties with France’s Le Meridien group and appointed Six Continents Hotels to run its two prime properties at Ratchaprasong intersection.

The luxury 381-room Le Royal Meridien Bangkok will become the Inter-Continental Bangkok and the adjacent Le Meridien President will become the Holiday Inn Bangkok in early 2005.

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