Guoman Hotel Management, owner of Thistle Hotels, plans to expand its luxury brand Guoman overseas while lavishing £150m on its UK properties, Caterersearch has learnt.
The privately owned Malaysian company which currently runs three Guoman properties in the UK and a resort in Malaysia, is looking to build two hotels in China.
The first will be a 460 bedroom hotel in Beijing due to open in 2009 and the second a 360-bedroom hotel in Shanghai due to open in early 2010. Thistle also plans a Guoman hotel in Kuala Lumpar.
Guoman chief operating officer Sanjay Nijhawan said the group was looking for opportunities to expand the luxury brand in the UK as well.
"We will look and as long as it doesn't conflict with the Thistle brand we will go ahead with it. In big cities where the two can sit side by side like Manchester and Birmingham are definitely an option for the Guoman brand," said Nijhawan.
The company will spend £150m on refurbishing its other UK Guoman hotels in the next two to three years, including a £20m refurbishment of its Royal Horse Guards hotel at Embankment in the capital, which is due to join the collection on completiton in November.
It will also upgrade the two-rosette restaurant in the Royal Horse Guards to Michelin-starred standards to rival the Gary Rhodes's eateries at the Guoman Cumberland hotel.
"It will be a new restaurant/brasserie concept and we're taking it a notch higher to make it into a fine dining restaurant serving similar food to the brasserie at the Cumberland," Nijhawan said.
The company is set to refurbish its Thistle hotel at Heathrow airport, which will become a fifth UK Guoman.
By Gemma Sharkey
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