Langham is prioritising Europe and the Middle East for a new wave of expansion, according to Langham Hospitality Group CEO Stefan Leser.
Eight of the 16 Langham hotels are in China, of which seven are management contracts, and one, The Langham Xintiandi Shanghai, is owned by the parent company.
Outside mainland China, the company owns all eight Langham hotels, four of which are in North America in New York, Chicago, Pasadena, and Boston; two in Australia, in Sydney and Melbourne; and properties in Hong Kong and London.
“In Europe we could only accommodate them in London,” Leser told Skift in an exclusive interview.
“One of our expansion priorities therefore is Europe. In some locations, we would need to acquire, while in others we would be looking for the right partners for development.”
Leser is also leading Langham’s new expansion drive beyond key cities into, for the first time, resort destinations such as Bali, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Maldives.
Parent company Great Eagle Holdings’ core revenue rose by 7.7% year-over-year to $851 million in 2018, driven by an 11% increase in revenue from the hotels division, according to a first-quarter investor presentation.
Asked if he was given a war chest by the parent to expand, Leser said, “No. We’re not expanding for the sake of building scale. When the deal is right, we’d swoop in. Our focus is a sustainable growth pattern with real skin in the game, either wholly or with the right partners.”
“There’s been a hype about asset light,” he added.
“Now people are starting to reconsider asset appreciation — whether it is not more important to actually have an influence over the product and have equity in it. I firmly believe in that.”
Expansion could be through acquiring a group of hotels or individual properties and management contracts. He thinks 30 Langham hotels in key cities or resorts in the next five to 10 years is the ‘sweet spot’ for the chain.