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Steigenberger has plans for controlled expansion

Puneet Chhatwal, CEO, Steigenberger hotels

Puneet Chhatwal, CEO, tells Sydney Paulden how the group is moving into new territories

Knowing that Puneet Chhatwal was coming to London, ITCM couldn’t miss the opportunity to interview him. The last time we met he was second-in-command at Rezidor, but now he is the CEO of Germanys prestigious international hotel group, Steigenberger.
‘We have been in business since the 1930s’, he says, ‘and have some of Germany’s, and Europe’s, iconic hotels. We value the tradition and reputation of those properties and where we take them over as acquisitions, we ensure that their names live on.’

Hotels of this stature easily come to mind, such as the famous Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof, probably the group’s flagship, and the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère in Davos, Switzerland.

But he rapidly goes on: ‘We are a dynamic and modern enterprise and we are engaged in plans for expansion. In 2013 we have grown by 15%. We have opened eight new hotels and in December we will see the arrival of Steigenberger’s first properties in China. Two are opening in Beijing.’

Puneet then explained that this rate of growth was exactly in line with the overall expansion plan to add between seven and ten hotels to the portfolio per annum.

‘About half are to be new constructions and half acquisitions. At this moment we have 13 new properties in the pipeline.’

‘On 1st December 2013 The Steigenberger Aqua Magic is opening in Egypt, on the Red Sea south of Hurghada, with 650 luxurious rooms. Its Aqua Park will feature an amusement park with an amphitheatre and a wide range of sports facilities for all ages.’

Steigenberger’s main aim seems to be to offer options in more countries to a wider range of clientele. Much of the interview, for example, was focussed on the group’s other brand, InterCityHotel. Currently there is a total of 85 operational hotels, of which 50 are Steigenberger and 35 InterCityHotel. The latter brand is closely allied in Germany with the Bundesbahn, the German national rail company, and the hotels are mostly located at important railheads. An extra benefit results from this. Every guest in these hotels is provided free of charge with a card for use on the city’s transport system.

‘InterCityHotels are generally new constructions’, says Puneet. ‘The majority of all our properties belong to Steigenberger, with possibly 15% franchised.’

The group’s expansion will become more and more evident as new hotels appear in the near future in Berlin, Amsterdam and Vienna. Three further properties are under construction in China with local partners.

An important component of the expansion plan is MICE business. ‘It account at the moment for 35% of total revenue and we are confident that in the near future it will represent 40%. We are well aware that MICE delegates and incentive award winners bring with them much more disposable income for per diem expenditure. Our new properties will continue to provide state-of-the-art facilities for events and even team-building. The new hotel in Berlin will be able to accommodate 400 delegates and the Steigenberger Airport Hotel s in Frankfurt and at Schiphol in Amsterdam are well-known for their extensive event facilities.

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