The acquisition of Shama, the luxury serviced apartment provider by Onyx Hospitality Group, the Thailand-based hotel management company headed up by CEO Peter Henley, marks the latter's intention to build a strong position in Asia.
The brand will be added to Onyx's existing stable and is a move outside the current portfolio of hotels. The deal will also support Onyx's own expansion into serviced apartments, through the imminent launch of its Amari Residences Bangkok, and the launch of its first property under its Saffron brand, Oriental Residence Bangkok.
Shama, which operates 13 properties in Greater China, is expected to provide Onyx with a gateway into China's serviced living market, as well as an opportunity to develop all brands within the Onyx portfolio in the region. Onyx will also be able to use the group take advantage of the return of business travel, with Shama including mainly Fortune 500 corporations as clients in the region.
As the global recovery builds and Asia is seen as a focus for development, the demand for serviced apartments which cater to longer-term guests than hotels is likely to grow.
Elaine Young, CEO and co-founder, Shama, said: "The requirement for quality serviced apartments has never been greater. Especially in second tier Chinese cities such as Chengdu, Dalian, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Tianjin which are showing the most growth potential. As a brand we will continue to lead the luxury boutique serviced apartment market in Greater China and we look forward to only strengthening our position under Onyx."
Onyx was formed in March this year, with owner Yuthachai Charanachitta saying that it was planning to invest 1.5 billion baht ($50m) in a growth strategy which will see new properties introduced across the portfolio of brands, positioning the group as "a market leader in hospitality management in the Asia Pacific region", operating 51 properties in the Asia Pacific and Arabian Gulf regions by 2018.
The group is based around the 11-strong "mid- to upscale" Amari brand, which has been operating in Thailand for more than 40 years. Onyx has since covered the bases across hotel price points, launching Saffron as a luxury offering, and Ozo as "the basics done right".
The group's first expansion move was to form a joint venture partnership with Mandeep S Lamba, previously the managing director and founder of Ten Hotels, a hospitality management company based New Delhi, to launch Onyx India. The joint venture plans to expand in the Indian metro and tier-two cities with a view to securing management contracts for seven hotels and resorts across the Indian subcontinent within the next five to seven years.
The deal is the first buy-in of a brand for Onyx in its short history but marks a determination to carve a niche in all areas of hospitality.