Pan intends to regrow the Regent brand back in Hong Kong, China

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Dec 07, 2013 10:53 AM EST

The chairman of the biggest and most profitable hotel operator in Taiwan, Formosa International Hotels, is planning to expand through rebuilding the legendary Regent hotel brand in the mainland, and especially in Hong Kong. Regent has been acquired by the Taiwanese company from the Carlson Group in the US three years ago. On the other hand, establishing the hotel brand in Hong Kong had proven to be a challenge, considering the expensive prices of a limited number of prime locations in the city.

Formosa earlier participated in an auction of the Murray Building hotel refurbishment project last month, of which it lost to Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel, the hotel unit of Wheelock & Co. Formosa chairman Steven Pan Si-liang said the company had to concede that it had lost its bid for the property.

Pan told the South China Morning Post, "The Murray Building bid is very high, which means it is not easy to make a good financial return."

Nonetheless, Pan expressed his devotion to the Regent brand, which is now known as the InterContinental. When I came to the hotel from the airport this morning, the taxi driver was still describing it as the Regent. It was the views that made this hotel known to the world more than 30 years ago, and even now the views are still great except that the opposite shore gets a bit closer," Pan said.

When asked to expound about the company's plans to return the Regent to Hong Kong, Pan said, "There are very limited choices in Central. A site with great sea views like this hotel [the InterContinental in Tsim Sha Tsui] is very difficult to come by. Over the past three years, nothing like the Murray Building was available, but it was sold, and at a very high price. We have to wait and see another opportunity."

Pan expressed his confidence for the establishment of the Regent in Shanghai, despite the punishing competition and protracted supply gut, SCMP noted. Pan stated, "We want to have a hotel in Shanghai, where Formosa has a number of real estate investments. Like other first-tier mainland cities, Shanghai is best suited with a residential-cum-hotel model. Regent Club, which combines deluxe residences with hotel rooms work well. The developer hopefully sells the residences and raises cash before opening the hotel. This helps the hotel achieve a higher return and lowers risks."

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