Banyan Tree Group is a leading international operator and developer of premium resorts, hotels, residences, spas and golf courses. Here, RLI sits down with Banyan Tree Holdings President & Group Managing Director Eddy See to discuss how the last 12 months have gone and what lies ahead for the company.
Currently operating 47 hotels and resorts, 64 spas, 75 retail galleries and three golf courses in 24 countries, the Banyan Tree Group has a pipeline of 49 hotels and resorts under construction and development, of which many will be open and operating by the end of 2022. More than 50 per cent of these openings will take place in China with the remaining spread across the globe.
In 2018, the Group had successfully signed 26 hotel agreements across its four brands in Greater China, Fiji, Palau, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Spain. With its continual global expansion, it will be steadily growing Banyan Tree and Angsana brands in Americas, Europe and Africa continents while creating a stronghold in Asia Pacific with its Cassia and Dhawa brands in the portfolio. As one of the most successful Asian-inspired brands, Banyan Tree Group garnered a staggering 241 global awards last year, recognition for the exceptional experiences they offer as a leading hospitality brand.
The latest hotel opening was the Angsana Xishuangbanna property in China in January. Next year 10 new hotels will open and these will include Angsana Corfu in Greece, Angsana Teluk Bahang, Penang in Malaysia, Angsana Siem Reap in Cambodia, Banyan Tree Krabi in Thailand and Angsana and Dhawa Leishan in China. Openings beyond 2020 will see the launch of Banyan Tree in Kyoto, Japan, Banyan Palau, Banyan Tree Cayo Buba and Angsana Cayo Buba in Varadero, Cuba. When searching for new locations and properties, the group tries to keep a balance between emerging destinations and those of travellers’ favourites.
‘Banyan Tree epitomises the romance of travel. It is the adventure and excitement of being a first mover that draws us to destinations on the upswing’ explains Eddy See, Banyan Tree Holdings President & Group Managing Director. ‘Though this requires more effort to educate the market on the beauty and uniqueness of the new locale, it is in line with our brand’s business model and our passion to create exceptional guest experiences.‘
As a pioneering brand, the company introduced a number of firsts into the hospitality market. Some examples of these are two popular product concepts – the all-pool villa resort and the Asian tropical garden spa while for service culture – the development of local talents and empowerment of women. It provides hotel career growth, sustains local artisans’ livelihoods and crafts through Banyan Tree Gallery retail outlets and trains countless skilful therapists through Banyan Tree Spa Academy. Celebrating 25 years, it has championed sustainability, embedding this into its development and operating values.
Driven by a deep sense of place, Banyan Tree Group curates the uniqueness of each destination and is inspired by the local heritage, culture and natural surroundings of each location – creating a sanctuary for the senses imbued with locally-inspired design. ‘Sustainability is an ingrained mindset which is part of our organisational DNA from the very beginning. This is one of the key areas that we are truly proud of’ says See.
Many of the group’s loyal guests are partakers of its Stay for Good programme where the Green Imperative Fund donations are dollar-matched by the hotels. Close to USD 8 million has been disbursed to various sustainability projects through its non-profit arm, Banyan Tree Global Foundation. With the increasing importance of online channels, the company focuses on enhancing its e-commerce capabilities and elevating content marketing with precise audience-targeting and richer media planning and buying. It has identified niche opportunities and occasions to drive brand value and direct bookings to create growth for incremental room nights and revenue.
So what would See say is the ethos of the business?
‘Championing 25 years of sustainable development since our inception in 1994, Banyan Tree Group has pioneered the journey of stewardship in our commitment towards the environment and the communities’ See feels the challenge in front of the company is to remain independent and yet be able to benefit from consolidation to strengthen the brand, maintaining brand clarity and distinctiveness. It is exploring new brands which will cater to specific segments of the hotel industry, to develop a portfolio of hospitality products which delivers a range of aspirational experiences across different price points.
‘After the first 25 entrepreneurial years, the next 25 will be about Banyan Tree Group’s strengthening and deepening of the resources and infrastructure for brand delivery while surging forth into new frontiers‘ See explains. ‘This year marks our 25th anniversary, and to us at Banyan Tree, it is the vehicle through which we express our sense of purpose. We have dedicated the celebrations to thanking our associates (staff) – our pride and pillar of success. Together we have built a business that is grounded on our ethos of ‘Embracing the Environment, Empowering People’ wherever we are planted’ concludes See.