Renowned Hotel-Chain Developer Lance Shaner, Owner of 48 Marriott Hotel Brands and Various Other Hotels, Recommends the Use of Sky’s Plug & Play Smart Platform Technology in His Hotels as Well as to a Leading Hotel Chain

MIAMI, FL, May 11, 2022 – (ACN Newswire) – SQL Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:SKYX) ("Sky Technologies" or "the Company"), a Company significantly enhancing safety in homes and buildings as well as smart home lifestyle, with highly disruptive smart platform technologies and over 60 issued and pending patents globally, today announced that renowned hotel entrepreneur Lance T. Shaner will Chair Sky's newly formed Hotel Advisory Board.

Lance T. Shaner serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Shaner Hotel Group. A graduate of Alfred University, he provides the business strategy and entrepreneurial spirit for the Shaner family of companies. Under his leadership, the companies have completed several billion dollars in transactions and have grown into a highly respected leading business group comprised of over 60 Marriott hotel brands, Hilton, IHG, Choice and independent brand hotels with over 3,500 employees globally. Marriott recently awarded his hotel group with the 2021 "Intention to Return" Award, considered by Marriott to be their most significant award, as it indicates consumer probability to return.

In addition to his business achievements, Lance has been recognized for his service in numerous leadership roles in his community, including Centre County Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2019 CBICC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chaired by Mr. Shaner, the Hotel Advisory Board is expected to assist in driving the adoption of the smart SkyPlug and related Sky Platform into lodging facilities including hotels, resorts, the growing vacation rental industry and apartment buildings.

Mr. Shaner said: "I look forward to joining Sky, as I strongly believe that the Company's smart platform technology has the ability to make hotels become smart and safer instantly, in just minutes per room and only days for an entire hotel. This is game changing for the hospitality, lodging and apartment building sectors. I firmly believe that the Company's technology will enable hotels and buildings to become smart as the new standard."

Rani Kohen, Founder and Executive Chairman of Sky Technologies, added: "We are privileged to welcome Lance to our newest advisory board – this is a significant recognition for us, as it comes from a U.S. leading hotel owner and developer with depth and experience across the vast variety of building types that our technology can enhance. We look forward to working closely with Lance to integrate our products into his hotels while continuing high-level discussions with major hotel chains. As we continue to build out our industry advisory boards, we believe we are well positioned to accelerate our commercialization pathway and turn upcoming product launches into revenue and mass-market adoption."

About SQL Technologies Corp.

As electricity is a standard in every home and building, our mission is to make homes and buildings become safe-advanced and smart as the standard.

SQL Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:SKYX) d/b/a Sky Technologies has a series of highly disruptive advanced-safe-smart platform technologies, with over 60 U.S. and global patents and patent pending applications. Our technologies place an emphasis on high quality and ease of use, while significantly enhancing both safety and lifestyle in homes and buildings. We believe that our products are a necessity in every room in both homes and other buildings in the U.S. and globally. For more information, please visit our website at https://skyplug.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this press release constitute forward-looking statements, including with respect to the proposed initial public offering. Management has based these forward-looking statements on its current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While they believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are reasonable, such forward-looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond management's control. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause the Company's actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made and include statements relating to the Company's ability to successfully launch, commercialize, develop additional features and achieve market acceptance of its smart products and technologies, the Company's efforts and ability to drive the adoption of Sky's Plug Smart Platforms into multi-family residential buildings and communities and adoption by hotels, and other risks and uncertainties described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Recommendations are not to be construed as, and may not result in, any binding agreements, arrangements or commitments for the use or adoption of the Company's technologies. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and, except as required by law, the Company assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Investor Relations Contact:
Lucas A. Zimmerman
MZ North America
(949) 259-4987
SKYX@mzgroup.us

SOURCE: SQL Technologies, Inc. dba Sky Technologies

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

Dusit International showcases exciting new products, services, and experiences at the Arabian Travel Market 2022

BANGKOK, May 5, 2022 – (ACN Newswire) – Dusit International, one of Thailand's leading hotel and property development companies, will showcase its expanding portfolio of international properties, plus a wide range of new services and guest experiences, at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022, held from 9 – 12 May at the Dubai World Trade Centre.


Dusit's reimagined flagship Dusit Thani Bangkok hotel is slated to open in mid-2024 as part of Dusit Central Park, a landmark mixed-use development in the heart of Bangkok.

Dusit Thani Hua Hin's large central pool has been stylishly transformed into a new 'sanctuary by the sea' following a complete renovation of all guest rooms and other exciting upgrades.

Elite Havens, the leading provider of luxury villa rentals in Asia, gives travellers a unique opportunity to stay in incredible private residences in stunning locations across Indonesia, India, Japan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Designed to link millennial-minded travellers with authentic local experiences in the world's most vibrant neighbourhoods, ASAI Hotels offers thoughtfully pared-back services while focusing on in-stay essentials and exciting lifestyle experiences.

Mr Prateek Kumar, Senior Vice President – Operations, Dusit International


During the event, Dusit executives will share details about Dusit's group-wide response to the global pandemic, including how it has reimagined its unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality to deliver not only short-term financial improvement, but also longer-term value creation by providing additional convenience, experience and value for guests.

This includes the introduction of four new pillars of Dusit Graciousness, which respond directly to shifting consumer trends – Service (personalised and gracious), Well-Being (delivering wellness experiences beyond the spa), Locality (uniquely linking guests with the local community), and Sustainability (social, economic, and environmental) – and the subsequent roll-out of services, activities and experiences in each of these areas to enrich the stay experience and create meaningful and memorable moments at Dusit Hotels and Resorts worldwide.

Dusit's new group-wide wellness concept, Devarana Wellness, is just one exciting development to emerge from this strategic approach.

Specially designed to weave well-being elements throughout the entire stay experience, the new concept has been specially crafted to address guests' most shared concerns – including destressing, detoxifying, and enjoying a deep restorative sleep – and includes, amongst others, the introduction of regular wellness activities such as yoga, meditation and sound bath sessions.

Dusit has also introduced a new centralised corporate Customer Experience (CX) team tasked with ensuring that each of its properties is positioned to drive guest satisfaction by offering unique experiences beyond the standards and capabilities of the competition. Local collaborations and community-centric events and activities are central to this.

Despite the challenging business environment, Dusit has continued to expand its operations globally during the pandemic. Over the past two years, the company has opened nine new properties, signed an additional nine, and leveraged its experience in operating hotels to introduce property management and training services for leading condominium developers in Thailand.

Significant enhancements of its longest-running properties, such as Dusit Thani Hua Hin in Thailand, have also taken place in line with Dusit's vision to position them as dynamic and vibrant spaces that meet the lifestyle needs of all generations of travellers.

Notable openings since 2020 have included Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, the first resort in Singapore with direct access to two championship golf courses, and ASAI Bangkok Chinatown, the first property under ASAI Hotels – Dusit's new affordable lifestyle brand designed to link millennial-minded travellers with authentic local experiences in the world's most vibrant neighbourhoods.

In terms of new signings, Dusit has continued to plant flags in new key destinations, including its first hotels in Japan (Dusit Thani Kyoto and ASAI Kyoto) and India (Dusit Princess Serviced Suites Kolkata). All three are slated to open next year.

The most significant property in Dusit's pipeline, the reimagined flagship Dusit Thani Bangkok, is also on the horizon – scheduled to open in mid-2024 as part of Dusit Central Park, a landmark USD 1.37 billion mixed-use development in the heart of the Thai capital. This highly anticipated project will also comprise ultra-luxury residences (Dusit Residences and Dusit Parkside), a state-of-the-art office tower, a high-end shopping mall, and a large roof park. All components are expected to open by mid-2025.

As for current operations, Dusit's property portfolio comprises 47 hotels operating under Dusit Hotels and Resorts (comprising five distinct brands) and 265 luxury villas under Elite Havens, the leading provider of luxury villa rentals in Asia, which Dusit acquired in September 2018. In total, this makes 312 properties (11,990 keys) operating across 16 countries. Dusit also has more than 50 hotels and resorts in the pipeline.

Elite Havens will be represented at ATM for the first time this year. This gives visitors a unique opportunity to discover more about the company's bespoke services and private sanctuaries in awe-inspiring locations across India, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Maldives.

Representatives from Dusit Hotels and Resorts Thailand, Dusit Thani Maldives, Dusit Thani Dubai, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, Dusit Thani LakeView Cairo, and dusitD2 Naseem Resort Jabal Akhdar, Oman will also be available to explain more about their respective properties and Dusit's unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality.

The delegation will be led by Mr Prateek Kumar, Senior Vice President – Operations, Dusit International, and General Manager of the renowned Dusit Thani Dubai hotel.

"As travel restrictions continue to ease worldwide, we return to ATM this year with much excitement, and we're delighted to showcase how we have reimagined our services to position Dusit Hotels and Resorts for maximum value creation in the new normal," said Mr Kumar. "Alongside celebrating our strong presence in the MENA region, we look forward to highlighting our ongoing expansion, both internationally and across the lodging spectrum, as well as our exciting and unique developments in hospitality education, food business, property development, and hospitality-related services, which add to our competitive advantage."

Anyone wishing to speak with Mr Kumar or other Dusit representatives at ATM can make an appointment in advance via danelle.palang@dusit.com. Alternatively, they can visit stand HC0525 where the team will be delighted to assist them.

About Dusit International

Established in 1948, Dusit International or Dusit Thani Public Company Limited (DUSIT) is a leading hospitality group listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Its operations comprise five distinct yet complementary business units: hotels and resorts, hospitality education, food, property development, and hospitality-related services.

The group's portfolio of hotels, resorts and luxury villas includes more than 300 properties operating under a total of six brands (Dusit Thani, Dusit Devarana, dusitD2, Dusit Princess, ASAI Hotels, and Elite Havens) across 16 countries worldwide. The group also operates culinary schools and hospitality colleges in Thailand, plus catering companies for the education sector in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Dusit International's diversified investments in real estate development, hospitality-related services, and the food sector are part of its long-term strategy for sustainable growth, which focuses on three key areas: balance, expansion and diversification.

For more information, please visit dusit-international.com.
Images can be downloaded via medialib.dusit.com.

For more information, please contact:
Sureerat Sudpairak | Corporate Director of Public Relations | Dusit International
Tel: +66 (0) 2200 9999 ext. 3321 | Mobile +66 (0) 89 006 8697 | Email: sureerat.sp@dusit.com

Danelle Ruth Palang | Director of Marketing and Communications | Dusit International
Tel: +971 4 3174261 | Email: danelle.palang@dusit.com

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

U-Boat Worx launches 9-person flagship lithium-ion battery submersible NEXUS

AMSTERDAM, Apr 21, 2022 – (ACN Newswire) – Dutch submersible manufacturer U-Boat Worx (www.uboatworx.com) breaks the mould with the launch of the NEXUS series. U-Boat Worx is the market leader in private and commercial submersibles. Since 2017, the company has sold more than 20 of its highly successful Cruise Subs to private operators, resorts, and cruise lines.


Nexus White Front View

Nexus White Side View

Nexus White Right Angle

Nexus White from Top Upside

Nexus Yellow Front Side


The NEXUS series (www.uboatworx.com/model/nexus-series) comprises two models featuring an ultra-large elliptical acrylic pressure hull with unrivalled passenger comfort. Seating up to eight passengers and one pilot, the NEXUS provides 25% more interior space than competing models. The NEXUS subs are depth-rated to 200 meters (650 feet).

Equipped with the latest lithium-ion battery technology, the subs can operate for up to 18 hours and dive up to ten times a day. 80 guests can participate in an unforgettable sub-sea adventure daily (www.uboatworx.com/model/nexus-series).

The unique revolving seating arrangement featured in the Cruise Subs has been replicated in the NEXUS. Passengers therefore always enjoy the best view, regardless of the direction the submarine is travelling. The NEXUS subs are designed as multi-directional, meaning they can manoeuvre in any direction without compromise. This is a distinguishing capability only achieved in U-Boat Worx submersibles. Ten silent thrusters provide the power required for top performance and unmatched speed.

The experience and knowledge gained from the development of the Cruise Subs has evolved the new features in the NEXUS series, including an XXL entrance hatch – the largest ever incorporated on a submersible of this size. For passengers of all ages, the entire boarding process has been streamlined, in keeping with U-Boat Worx's vision that everyone should be able to experience the oceans in a safe and comfortable manner.

A unique feature of U-Boat Worx' flagship submersibles is the optional passenger elevator, also integrated on the company's C-Researcher models.

Thanks to top-mounted diving tanks, the view abeam on both sides is unrestricted by floaters, with ample freeboard. This also leads to a stable boarding platform granting sufficient space for all occupants to stand on deck.

The NEXUS is optimised for ship-based launch and recovery, and can also be deployed from land and transported to dive sites.

In addition to the 9-person NEXUS, a marginally smaller and lighter 7-person version is available.

NEXUS – meaning a point of connection – bridges the gap between people and the ocean, providing a truly immersive aquatic encounter.

About U-Boat Worx
The 10 Submersible essentials (www.uboatworx.com/why-u-boat-worx-submarines)

For centuries, the Netherlands has been synonymous with world-class maritime innovation. U-Boat Worx is proudly continuing this tradition by leading the global submersible market. Since becoming an industry leader in submarine design, construction, and operations, we see our commitments to safety, quality and service as the major reasons for our ongoing success.

The desire to explore the deep has existed since the dawn of humanity. The popularization of scuba-diving brought the oceans within reach. Unlike scuba-diving, a manned submersible can take us deeper, in safety and comfort – without any risk of decompression.

The dream of creating a superior submersible, available to the general public, began in the 1980s. Bert Houtman, founder of U-Boat Worx, had the revolutionary idea to create submersibles that would not only be operated by the military or large oceanographic research institutes, but also for the private sector. He realized that to do that, he needed to build his own.

U-BOAT WORX PRESS OFFICE / SAND PEOPLE COMMUNICATION
sandpeoplecommunication.com
Alexander Razinkov
uboatworx@sandpeoplecommunication.com
M: +7 909 1672905
https://sandpeoplecommunication.com

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

Digital Tools to Revitalize Global Tourism

MADRID, SPAIN, Jul 18, 2021 – (ACN Newswire) – The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) continues to energize the restart of tourism based on sustainability and innovation. An agreement with MUST Travel & Tech places a digital tool at the service of tourism, allowing users to share their experiences to promote the reactivation of the sector with a view to sustainability. Presented during the UNWTO Mayors' Forum in Porto, Portugal, MUST is an opportunity for the advancement of smart cities, as well as destinations that incorporate technology and innovation in their development.


A World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) agreement with MUST Travel & Tech places a digital tool at the services of tourism, allowing users to share their experiences to promote the reactivation of the sector with a view to sustainability.

The UNWTO continues to energize the restart of tourism based on sustainability and innovation. The UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili, and Pablo Lopez, CEO and founder of MUST Travel & Tech in Porto, Portugal.


Already operating in 60 countries, MUST aggregates all the information of interest to travellers in one place. By also integrating key information and analysis from UNWTO, it aims to become a leading tourism application and generate opportunities for destinations.

Technology at the service of development

Visibility provided through technological tools is an opportunity for those who, along the entire value chain of the sector, require support to restart their activity, from new destinations around rural communities to destinations with a high degree of infrastructure development.

"We welcome innovative ideas and technologies that allow the creation of global and regional innovation ecosystems aimed at accelerating the recovery of tourism for development," said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili upon signing the agreement.

For his part, the CEO of MUST, Pablo Lopez, highlighted that "technology enhances the productivity and resilience of companies. The implementation of digital solutions in line with new trends in the tourism sector allows us to develop a differentiated, personalized and safe tourism product that is more focused on behaviour patterns and the management of spaces that will undoubtedly contribute to the recovery of a key activity for the economy in general".

A distinctive element will be the contribution of tourism intelligence from the UNWTO to the users of the tool. In this way, relevant and verified social content is combined with data for making informed and evidence-based decisions. MUST provides the perfect ecosystem to stimulate both the supply and the demand of meaningful experiences through digitalisation, sustainability and social recommendations. As Katherine Hays (one of MobileMarketer's Mobile Women to Watch) expressed, "It is becoming increasingly clear that a major social + digital disrupter in the Travel & Experiences industry is imminent, especially once the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the industry start fading away. Why can't that be Must?"

Related links:
https://discovermust.page.link/IG
https://www.unwto.org/news/digital-tools-to-revitalize-tourism

Contact details:
Pablo Lopez, Co- Founder & CEO
Organization of the PR: Must Travel & Tech SL
Website URL: www.discovermust.com
Email: pablo@discovermust.com / info@discovermust.com

Copyright 2021 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

Dusit International expands hotel operations in Thailand with the opening of pet-friendly dusitD2 Hua Hin

Hua Hin, Thailand, Jul 15, 2021 – (ACN Newswire) – Dusit International, one of Thailand's leading hotel and property development companies, has expanded its operations in the kingdom with the opening of dusitD2 Hua Hin, an upscale pet-friendly retreat in the heart of Hua Hin, a popular seaside destination just three hours by car from Bangkok.


dusitD2 Hua Hin

Deluxe Terrace Bedroom

Family Terrace Bedroom

Rooftop pool

Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International


Located just a seven-minute walk from Hua Hin's main beach and near popular local attractions such as Cicada Market and Bluport Hua Hin Resort Mall, the new hotel is designed to offer a modern and comfortable haven where families and groups of friends can recharge, relax, and easily discover everything the destination has to offer, with space to bring their pets with them.

Alongside 152 contemporary guest rooms and suites ranging in size from 30 to 92 sq m, including selected rooms equipped with pet-friendly amenities for up to two pets, the bright and airy property offers a wide range of facilities for work, rest and play.

Current dining facilities include Cafe Soi, an all-day dining restaurant where guests can take a culinary journey to Southern Thailand and indulge in traditional delicacies from Surat Thani, Phuket, Songkhla, Krabi and beyond; Som Bar, a vibrant rooftop bar inspired by Hollywood party pads where guests can enjoy cocktails and admire panoramic sea views; and Dusit Gourmet, Dusit's signature bakery and coffee shop, where guests can indulge in a variety of Thai and international favourites, all made using high-quality ingredients.

Alongside a rooftop infinity pool, a large garden, and a fully equipped gym, the hotel also offers an extensive kids club, The Beary Club, featuring a children's swimming pool, a play area with a sandbox and a treehouse, and a wide range of activities for children ages 3 to 15. Bag painting, tree planting, cooking classes, and treasure hunts led by friendly mascot 'Beary' – a unique 'half bear, half hog deer' character specially designed to raise awareness of endangered animals in the region – are just some of the fun activities offered. All children are given a Beary Map on arrival with the chance to win an ice cream by collecting stamps throughout the property.

All room types, from the airy Deluxe to the spacious Two-Bedroom Suite, feature the latest in connectivity, with high-speed internet access and 55" 4K UHD Smart TVs for easy streaming of entertainment. Each room and public area is also equipped with a Panasonic Nanoe(TM) X machine, which filters the air to eliminate odours and inhibit the activity of airborne bacteria and pet-derived allergens.

Guests seeking to stay on top of work during their travels will find plenty of quiet, thoughtfully designed corners to focus on their important tasks. The versatile and well-equipped Dok Jok function room is also available for up to 76 people in a theatre-style arrangement, or 37 people in a classroom set-up, ensuring ample space for safe and memorable gatherings.

Alongside Dusit's unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality, all guests also benefit from Dusit's carefully crafted 'Dusit Care' services. Designed to offer ultimate peace of mind, these go beyond enhanced hygiene protocols to deliver additional convenience, experience and value while maximising guest safety. Flexible check-in, anytime breakfast, and mobile payment methods are just some of the services offered.

dusitD2 Hua Hin, which officially opens on 16 July 2021, is Dusit's third hotel in Hua Hin. The renowned Dusit Thani Hua Hin, a deluxe beachside resort, has been operating in the destination for 30 years. Dusit also recently began managing Seapine Recreation Centre, next to Suanson beach. Dusit International's property portfolio now comprises more than 300 properties, across six brands, in 17 countries worldwide.

"We are delighted to open dusitD2 in Hua Hin and expand our market reach to delight a whole new segment of travellers in this popular seaside destination," said Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International. "Complementing perfectly the full-service offerings of our long-standing Dusit Thani Hua Hin resort, dusitD2 Hua Hin is ideally positioned to meet the needs of the large drive-to-leisure market from Bangkok. From modern Thai-inspired design and our distinctive gracious hospitality, to pet-friendly rooms, extensive lifestyle facilities, and a great location near popular shopping areas and the main beach, the hotel has all the ingredients for a highly memorable stay. Ultimately, dusitD2 Hua Hin offers excellent value for young families, groups of friends, and even those looking for a comfortable and convenient base to work from anywhere. And all guests can rest assured that, with Dusit, their well-being and safety will always come first."

To mark its opening, dusitD2 Hua Hin is now offering The Journey has Begun package featuring accommodation in a Deluxe room, breakfast for two adults, an extra bed for children under 18 years old, and 20% food and beverage discount at Cafe Soi and Som Bar.

Available for booking from 16 July 2021 for stay dates through 31 August 2021, the package starts at THB 2,499 net per night. Guests who book to stay two consecutive nights will also receive a southern set dinner for two at Cafe Soi.

For more information about the hotel and its opening room rates, please visit https://www.dusit.com/dusitd2-huahin/specialoffers/the-journey-has-begun/.

About Dusit International

Established in 1948, Dusit International is a leading hospitality group listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Building on its two core areas of business – Hotels & Resorts and Hospitality Education – the company has expanded its operations over the past four years to comprise five business units. The additional units include Foods, Property Development, and Hospitality-Related Services. Today, the company's property portfolio comprises more than 300 distinctive hotels, resorts and luxury villas operating under six brands across 17 countries worldwide, as well as two leading hospitality colleges with campuses in Thailand and the Philippines. Following a three-pronged strategy for sustainable growth, including balance, expansion and diversification, the company has recently expanded into food production, on-demand hospitality services, and property development to reach new markets and add further recurring streams of revenue to the company.

For more information, please visit www.dusit-international.com

Official photos of Dusit Hotels & Resorts can be downloaded at medialib.dusit.com

Media Contact:
Sureerat Sudpairak | Director of Marketing Communications | Dusit International
Tel: +66 (0) 2200 9999 ext. 3321 | Mobile +66 (0) 89 006 8697 | Email: sureerat.sp@dusit.com

Copyright 2021 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

Dusit International makes its Oman debut with the opening of dusitD2 Naseem Resort, Jabal Akhdar

Jabal Akhdar, Oman, Jul 6, 2021 – (ACN Newswire) – Dusit International, one of Thailand's leading hotel and property development companies, has expanded its presence in the Middle East with the opening of dusitD2 Naseem Resort, Jabal Akhdar – the first Dusit-branded hotel in Oman.


dusitD2 Naseem Resort, Jabal Akhdar, Oman

Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International


Owned by the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN), which is the executive arm of the Sultanate for tourism development, the deluxe resort is located within a brand new 8,000 sq m Adventure Park on the Saiq Plateau in the Jabal Akhdar area, just a five-minute drive from the 'Grand Canyon of the Middle East,' and two hours by car from Muscat International Airport.

Comprising 252 beautifully decorated rooms and suites, the contemporary resort fully embraces its unique mountain location with a spacious layout that blends seamlessly with its stunning natural surrounds.

Alongside breathtaking views, guests can enjoy a wide range of facilities, including an all-day dining restaurant, a fitness centre, and a large outdoor swimming pool. A specialty restaurant, a Kids Club, and a signature Namm spa offering traditional Thai-inspired massage therapies and treatments are set to open later in the year. Dusit's new group-wide wellness concept and approach will also be introduced to weave well-being elements throughout the stay experience. With a focus on physical vitality and mental health, this unparalleled approach will include the provision of mountain running, yoga, pilates, Thai boxing, guided meditation workshops, and other experiences and events that harness nature, sustainability, and adventure, to deliver healthy fun for adults and children alike.

The resort is also well-equipped for future business events and social gatherings, with a grand ballroom that can cater for up to 150 guests, and several adjoining meeting rooms featuring the latest audio-visual equipment.

The Adventure Park, slated to open later in the year, will feature exciting activities to delight visitors of all ages, such as zip-line rides offering impressive views of the surrounding valley. A petting zoo and science centre where budding young Einsteins can get to grips with all kinds of fun experiments are also set to open when the world reopens to international travel.

To uniquely link guests with the location, dusitD2 Naseem Resort, Jabal Akhdar will also soon offer educational hiking, cycling and quad biking tours to ancient forts, traditional markets and other local attractions, such as the historic town of Nizwa, known as the 'Pearl of Islam.'

Alongside Dusit's unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality, all guests also benefit from Dusit's carefully crafted 'Dusit Care' services. Designed to offer ultimate peace of mind, these go beyond enhanced hygiene protocols to deliver additional convenience, experience and value while maximising guest safety. Flexible check-in, anytime breakfast, and mobile payment methods are just some of the services offered.

"We are delighted to make our Oman debut with this vibrant resort which showcases the heritage, culture and visual splendour of the destination in truly distinctive fashion," said Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International. "From enriching wellness experiences and exciting dining journeys to adventurous excursions and a wide range of exhilarating activities, dusitD2 Naseem Resort, Jabal Akhdar has all the elements in place to provide a highly memorable vacation for visitors of all ages. Bright days are on the horizon for international travel, and we look forward to making the property a resounding success."

Mr Gerhard Stutz, General Manager, dusitD2 Naseem Resort, Jabal Akhdar, said, "Uniquely blending Dusit's unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality with local customs and traditions, our resort provides unparalleled access to wonder and adventure in a gorgeous location surrounded by breathtaking mountains and valleys. It's truly a distinctive proposition for travellers, and we look forward to leveraging our unique position and offerings to deliver amazing vacation experiences that help to put the area on the map as a must-visit destination to the benefit of our broader community."

For more information about the resort and its opening room rates, please visit dusit.com/dusitd2-naseemresort

About Dusit International

Established in 1948, Dusit International is a leading hospitality group listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Building on its two core areas of business – Hotels & Resorts and Hospitality Education – the company has expanded its operations over the past four years to comprise five business units. The additional units include Foods, Property Development, and Hospitality-Related Services. Today, the company's property portfolio comprises more than 300 distinctive hotels, resorts and luxury villas operating under six brands across 15 countries worldwide, as well as two leading hospitality colleges with campuses in Thailand and the Philippines. Following a three-pronged strategy for sustainable growth, including balance, expansion and diversification, the company has recently expanded into food production, on-demand hospitality services, and property development to reach new markets and add further recurring streams of revenue to the company.

For more information, please visit www.dusit-international.com

Official photos of Dusit Hotels & Resorts can be downloaded at medialib.dusit.com

About OMRAN

Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) was established in 2005 by the Government as the executive arm of the Sultanate responsible for delivering the objectives contained in 2040 National Tourism Strategy. OMRAN works closely with the Ministry of Tourism and other governmental entities to identify priorities, projects and opportunities that will maximise the potential of the Sultanate's tourism sector.

OMRAN creates sustainable and authentic tourism assets, lifestyle communities and destinations that drive economic growth and contribute to diversification of the economy.

Media Contact:
Sureerat Sudpairak | Director of Marketing Communications | Dusit International
Tel: +66 (0) 2200 9999 ext. 3321 | Mobile +66 89 006 8697 | Email: sureerat.sp@dusit.com

Copyright 2021 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

ZALL celebrates the opening of its first overseas Chinese bookstore in Singapore

SINGAPORE, Feb 11, 2021 – (ACN Newswire) – ZALL Group, Asia's leading B2B e-commerce group, has officially opened its first overseas all-in-one Chinese bookstore on 8 February 2021 that is situated right in the heart of Orchard Road at Wheelock Place. The bookstore comprises of a cafe, art gallery and craft store, as well as event and outdoor spaces. Aspiring to create an all-in-one lifestyle experience, ZALL Bookstore seeks to create the perfect quintessential conducive environment for like-minded individuals who are passionate about Chinese culture, literature and arts to congregate and interact.









"Perfect for enthusiasts who are keen to learn more about Chinese culture, ZALL Bookstore creates a completely immersive experience into the world of books," said Yan Ge, spokesperson of ZALL Bookstore. "ZALL Bookstore aims to represent the richness of the Chinese heritage by offering readers an array of books with varied genres, as well as a collaborative setting for our readers to rediscover themselves whilst reading."

Serving as a gateway into the world of rich Chinese history and culture, ZALL Bookstore caters to diverse cultural interests and offers a comprehensive curated collection of more than 30,000 books on Chinese literature, humanities, history, and philosophy from China and Taiwan – featuring adult and children's books from international bestsellers, Chinese authors and foreign literary works. Beyond books, ZALL Bookstore also embodies the spirit of humanities, creativity, art and lifestyle that seeks to nourish a reader's soul with experiential charm into Chinese culture.

The interior of ZALL Bookstore accentuates the calligraphic elements of black and white, inspired by the essence of the Jiangnan watertown, with a spiral staircase – the key element of the bookstore is the circular arch that extends from the second floor to the first, resembling that of a river bridge in the water towns symbolising the essence of connecting the two streets of the town/city.

Stepping into the bookstore on the first floor, readers will be greeted with calligraphic elements of black and white, inspired by the essence of the Jiangnan watertown, and would be able to browse an extensive range of Children's books as soon as they enter the bookstore.

This floor also includes a public multifunctional reading area that can hold events from new book releases to reading events; and a cafe that provides a cosy space for anyone seeking a quiet space to read, and to relax by enjoying the variety of coffee blends, Chinese Chu tea and Taiwan tea served at the cafe, amidst the hustle and bustle of Orchard road.

Walking up the spiral staircase to the second floor, readers shall be able to appreciate the well-designed circular arch that extends from the second floor to the first, resembling that of a river bridge in the water towns which symbolises the essence of connecting the two streets of the town/city.

The second floor of the bookstore boasts the Adults' section, where lovers of Chinese books can have the most pleasurable book-hunting experience in an exquisite ambience. There would also be a section for cultural creatives and fresh stationery ideas for art and design lovers.

Readers will be pleasantly surprised by the art gallery on the second floor of the bookstore if they wish for a change in scenery as this section will showcase the collection of creative artworks and thought-provoking paintings by Singapore's local talents and international artists.

Readers are invited to come and rediscover the joys of reading whilst immersing themselves into the rich Chinese culture. For more information, please visit ZALL Bookstore at Wheelock Place, 501 Orchard Road, https://www.facebook.com/zallbookstore


About ZALL Bookstore

ZALL Bookstore offers a place for cultural exchange, social gathering and homecoming providing a conducive space for everyone. ZALL bookstore is the first upscaled Chinese-themed bookstore in Singapore, featuring an all-in-one lifestyle experience. ZALL bookstore is the ideal location for events such as artistic exchanges that will nourish a reader's soul with experiential charm into Chinese culture. Its cafe will allow a quiet cafe experience of Singapore's coffee culture, providing cosy corners for anyone seeking a quiet space to read. ZALL Bookstore not only feature books, but also embodies the spirit of humanities, creativity, art, and lifestyle, that will cater to the diverse arts and cultural interests in Singapore and aspiring to create the unique arts paradise reshaping Singapore's Chinese cultural landscape.

Copyright 2021 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

Dusit International Singapore debuts with Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore

Bangkok, Thailand, 2 December 2020 – Dusit International, one of Thailand’s leading hotel and property development companies, has officially expanded into Singapore with the opening of Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore in the heart of the renowned Laguna National Golf & Country Club, one of the island nation’s premier golf and country clubs.

Comprising 198 tastefully-decorated contemporary rooms and suites, plus eight pavilions with private pools, and located just 10 minutes by car from Jewel Changi Airport and 15 minutes from Downtown, the resort is the first in Singapore to offer direct access to award-winning golfing facilities.

It is also the first resort in the country to feature Dusit’s unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality, and it serves as a showcase of the company’s new strategic direction for the new normal, which includes enhancing its brand DNA in four key areas – Personalised Service, Well-being, Local Connections, and Sustainability.

Opening initially to domestic guests on 4 December 2020, the elegant resort has been thoughtfully designed to cater to avid golfers, local families, and business and leisure travellers, and meet their needs from a wellness and destination getaway perspective.

The main building, whose sleek, contemporary design includes a curvilinear roof and impressive facade of floor-to-ceiling glass windows, signals a modern new direction for Dusit’s 50-year-old Dusit Thani brand. High-tech amenities and thoughtfully curated spaces combine to offer understated luxury which subtly references the old-world opulence of Dusit’s more traditional hotel offerings.

Current dining facilities include Greenhouse all-day dining; Tee Deck alfresco pool bar and grill; Legends Bar; and Dusit Gourmet.

In line with Dusit’s focus on well-being and sustainability, the restaurants are supported by an onsite garden planted with a selection of herbs, vegetables and fruits. A series of wellness menus are also offered featuring nutritious and balanced dishes for those seeking to maintain a healthy diet.

Alongside access to Laguna National Golf & Country Club’s renowned Masters and Classic championship golf courses, guests also have access to a 24-hour gym, three tennis courts, three swimming pools, a nine-hole putting green by Nicklaus Design, Laguna Practice powered by Toptracer driving range, and Devarana Wellness.

Alongside providing traditional Thai massage and premium health and beauty therapies, the latter facility also offers a wide range of activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as meditation, yoga, active stretching, and breath-work exercises. These activities have all been developed as part of Dusit’s new Devarana Wellness programme, which will also be rolled out to other Dusit Hotels and Resorts worldwide.

Positioned to become a leading venue for corporate functions, weddings and private social events, the resort also offers a spacious boardroom, three meeting rooms, three large event lawns, and a luxurious pillarless ballroom with capacity for 520 guests, depending on distancing requirements.

Nearby attractions for business and leisure include Changi Business Park, Singapore Expo, the Tampines business district, Marina Bay, Raffles Place, Orchard Road, and Sentosa Island. All can be reached within 20 minutes by car.

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore’s concierge is also on hand to ensure guests can connect with the best of the destination with personalised tips on what to see and do.

Alongside showcasing Dusit’s new brand standards for the new normal, the opening of the resort demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainable expansion by planting flags in strategic locations with strong growth potential. It is Dusit’s fifth resort to open this year, following dusitD2 Salwa Doha, Dusit Beach Resort Guam, ASAI Bangkok Chinatown, and Dusit Thani Wellness Resort Suzhou. It also comes hot on the heels of recent signings to manage upcoming hotels in India and Japan.

Dusit’s portfolio now includes 340 properties operating under six brands across 15 countries.

“Following this year’s signings and openings, the arrival of Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore marks another important milestone in our sustainable expansion, and we are delighted to make our debut in one of the world’s most respected business hubs and showcase our new brand DNA with such an exceptional property,” said Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International. “The resort’s stunning design, extensive guest offerings, and prime location on the grounds of the Laguna National Golf & Country Club puts us in a unique position to offer an integrated and full suite of services to meet the needs of a wide range of consumers, from C-suite executives and local staycationers, to soon-to-wed couples and avid golfers alike. This ensures we have plenty of avenues for domestic revenue creation while we wait for the COVID-19 situation to normalise and international travel to resume.

“While this is certainly a challenging time for our industry, Singapore previously recorded four years of consecutive tourism growth, and we remain confident that the market will bounce back strong. Until then, we will do our utmost to aid in its recovery by establishing Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore as a must-visit destination that brings enduring value to all stakeholders.”

Mr Eric Piatti, General Manager, Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, said, “We are delighted to finally open Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore and bring our personalised service and distinctive guest experiences to the destination for the first time. Opening the resort while the borders are closed may seem challenging, but demand for staycations among the domestic market is high, and we have an amazing and unique product to leverage this. Opening now will also ensure that everything is in place to help the Lion City roar back to life as soon as international travel resumes. We look forward to seeing Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore leading the pack, establishing itself as the new destination for Singaporeans.”

To ensure guest safety at Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, the resort strictly adheres to Dusit’s group-wide ‘Dusit Care – Stay with Confidence’ programme. Heightened cleaning protocols, contactless registration, anytime breakfast, digital in-room menus, and mobile payment methods are just some of the services and facilities implemented to protect the health and well-being of guests and employees.

For more information about the resort and its opening room rates, please visit dusit.com/dusitthani-laguna-singapore.

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore – Lobby

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore – Suite Room

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore – Greenhouse Restaurant

Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International

About Dusit International

Established in 1948, Dusit International is a leading hospitality group listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Building on its two core areas of business – Hotels & Resorts and Hospitality Education – the company has expanded its operations over the past four years to comprise five business units. The additional units include Foods, Property Development, and Hospitality-Related Services. Today, the company’s property portfolio comprises more than 300 distinctive hotels, resorts and luxury villas operating under six brands across 15 countries worldwide, as well as two leading hospitality colleges with campuses in Thailand and the Philippines. Following a three-pronged strategy for sustainable growth, including balance, expansion and diversification, the company has recently expanded into food production, on-demand hospitality services, and property development to reach new markets and add further recurring streams of revenue to the company. For more information, please visit www.dusit-international.com

Official photos of Dusit Hotels & Resorts can be downloaded at medialib.dusit.com

About Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore is located within the grounds of the acclaimed Laguna National Golf & Country Club, 10 minutes by car from Changi International Airport and 15 minutes from Downtown.

Comprising 198 tastefully-decorated rooms and suites showcasing the best of contemporary Asian design, this resort is equipped for business and leisure with a wealth of experiences for guests to enjoy.

Facilities include Greenhouse, an all-day dining multi-ethnic restaurant with show kitchens; Tee Deck – alfresco bar and grill; Legends Bar & Lounge; Dusit Gourmet; The Nest restaurant; Club Lounge; DFiT – a fully-equipped gym; three swimming pools; three tennis courts; Laguna Putting powered by Nicklaus Design; Laguna Practice powered by Toptracer, and Dusit’s signature Devarana Wellness.

The resort also offers a boardroom, two meeting rooms, three event lawns, eight pavilions, a terrace for private functions, and a large pillarless ballroom (seats up to 520 guests) with a pre-function area overlooking the golf course.

Guests will enjoy privileged access to the driving range and Laguna National’s championship Classic and Masters golf courses. For more information, please visit dusitthanilagunasingapore.com

About Laguna National Golf & Country Club

A prominent club in the local and regional golf scene since its inauguration in 1993, Laguna National is one of Singapore’s premier golf and country clubs. Laguna National boasts two 18-hole championship courses that have won prestigious accolades and hosted international championships, including the European Tour’s Singapore Masters, the Korean LPGA Tour’s ADT Caps Tour Championship, and European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event, The Championship at Laguna National.

Following a multi-million-dollar facelift, Laguna National has developed a state-of-the-art union of a world-class golf club and a 198-room and suites plus eight pavilions Dusit Thani resort with full facilities including a spa, a learning and practice facility, a fitness centre, as well as Member-exclusive areas with private locker rooms, Golfers’ lounge and country club facilities.

In close proximity to the airport, beach, malls and with a private clubhouse and resort, golfers will find the world at their fingertips at Laguna National Golf & Country Club. For more information, please visit lagunanational.com and facebook.com/lagunagolf

Media Contact:

Sureerat Sudpairak | Director of Marketing Communications – Hotel Business | Dusit International
Tel: +66 (0) 2200 9999 ext. 3321 | Mobile: +66 89 0068 697 | Email: sureerat.sp@dusit.com

Sue Gan | Director of Sales & Marketing | Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore
Tel: +65 6248 1725 | Mobile: +65 9646 4352 | Email: sue.gan@dusit.com



Copyright 2020 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

SBI, NPCI and JCB Launch ‘SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card’

Mumbai & Tokyo, Dec 1, 2020 – (ACN Newswire) – State Bank of India (SBI), National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and JCB International Co., Ltd. (JCB) have announced the launch of 'SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card'. This Card has been launched on the RuPay network by SBI in association with JCB. The SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card comes with a unique dual interface feature which will enable customers to perform both Contact & Contactless transactions in the domestic market and seamless contact transactions overseas. With this card, consumers would be able to transact on ATMs & POS terminals across the globe under JCB network. They can also shop online from JCB partnered international e-Commerce merchants using this card.

The 'SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card' supports RuPay offline wallet based transactions, enabling an additional payment mode within the Card. Consumers will be able to load the offline wallet and utilize it in transit in India (bus and metro) and retail (merchant) payments. This innovative proposition will offer customers uninterrupted shopping experience with an extra layer of convenience. Customers can also enjoy attractive discounts and offers while shopping at top brands, both within India as well as in international markets by using this Card. Additionally, customers will have access to JCB PLAZA Lounge (in-city exclusive lounges for JCB cardmembers) in prominent travel destinations such as Bangkok (Thailand), Orchard Road (Singapore) and Paris (France) which is a one-of-a-kind feature provided by JCB.

Ms. Praveena Rai, COO, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said, "We believe our collaboration with SBI and JCB will provide the cardholders compelling benefits and an unparalleled value proposition both in Indian and international markets. SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card holders can now use their cards at millions of locations in the world. It is also great to witness RuPay strengthening its foothold in international markets through our networks. We at NPCI constantly strive to offer an evolved and personalised shopping experience to the customers, and augment the existing segment of RuPay card holders."

Ms. Vidya Krishnan, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India said, "We are pleased to launch the 'SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card' through our strategic partnership with NPCI for RuPay and JCB. We believe the tap and pay technology on the Card will simplify the everyday purchases of customers with secure and fast contactless payments. With several attractive benefits and offers associated with this contactless Debit Card, we are hopeful that this Card would not only provide a rewarding shopping experience to the cardholders but also make their international travels worthwhile. At SBI, our consistent endeavour is to offer a differentiated and customised experience to our diverse set of customers in terms of their regular spends and transactions."

Mr. Yoshiki Kaneko, President and COO of JCB International Co., Ltd. said: "We are extremely happy and honoured to have the largest bank in India, State Bank of India, as a RuPay JCB Global Debit Card issuing partner. Together with our esteemed network partner, NPCI, we will bring best in class technology, access to the vast JCB global merchant network, and special offers and privileges to SBI customers. As more and more Indian customers adopt digital modes of payment to transact both domestically and internationally, we are sure this product proposition will be enjoyed and appreciated by the cardmembers."

About State Bank of India

State Bank of India (SBI) is India's largest commercial bank in terms of assets, deposits, branches, customers, and employees. It is also the largest mortgage lender in the country. As on June 30, 2020, the Bank has a deposit base of over Rs. 34 lakh crore with CASA ratio of more than 45% and advances of nearly Rs. 24 lakh crore. SBI commands nearly 34% market share in home loans and nearly 33% in the auto loans segment. The Bank has the largest network of over 22,100 Branches in India with an ATM/CDM network of over 58,500 and total BC outlets of more than 62,200. The number of customers using Internet Banking facilities is about 76 million and Mobile Banking services stand a little more than 17 million. The integrated digital and lifestyle platform by SBI – YONO has crossed the landmark of 58 million downloads. YONO which has 26 million registered users, witnesses 5.5 million logins per day along with over 4000 daily disbursals of personal loans, 16,000 YONO Krishi Agri Gold Loans. The Bank recently launched the YONO Global app in the UK and Mauritius and plans to cover 9 more countries by the end of 2020. On social media platforms, SBI has the highest number of followers on Facebook and Twitter amongst all banks worldwide. For more information, visit: https://bank.sbi

State Bank of India is the market leader in Debit Cards segment with a history of offering advanced and tailor-made products to its customers through various Channels. The Bank's latest offering in the form of SBI RuPay JCB Debit Card will also allow customers to pay for transit apart from retail payments – adding an extra layer of convenience for them. This card has all the potential of being the most preferred cards for customers.

The SBI RuPay JCB Contactless Debit Card is designed to enable banks to reduce their customers' effort of cash handling and provide them with the convenience of single tap payment. RuPay Contactless specifications are open standards, interoperable and scalable and can be adopted by all Card schemes. RuPay Contactless specifications have been developed to offer a vendor-agnostic, interoperable, secured and cost-effective ecosystem of low value payments to facilitate the government in building a less-cash economy. The SBI RuPay JCB Platinum Contactless Debit Card has all the elements to offer customers with ultimate choice of customising their payment decisions based on their comfort and needs, thereby creating for them, an ultimate transformative yet gratifying shopping experience.

About NPCI

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) was incorporated in 2008 as an umbrella organization for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India. NPCI has created a robust payment and settlement infrastructure in the country. It has changed the way payments are made in India through a bouquet of retail payment products such as RuPay Card, Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), BHIM Aadhaar, National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC Fastag) and Bharat BillPay. NPCI also launched UPI 2.0 to offer a more secure and comprehensive services to consumers and merchants.

NPCI is focused on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through use of technology and is relentlessly working to transform India into a digital economy. It is facilitating secure payments solutions with nationwide accessibility at minimal cost in furtherance of India's aspiration to be a fully digital society. For more information, visit: https://www.npci.org.in/

About JCB

JCB is a major global payment brand and a leading Credit Card issuer and acquirer in Japan. JCB launched its card business in Japan in 1961 and began expanding worldwide in 1981. Backed by its vast global acceptance network, JCB cards are now issued in 24 countries and territories with more than 140 million cardmembers. As part of its international growth strategy, JCB has formed alliances with hundreds of leading banks and financial institutions globally to increase merchant coverage and cardmember base. As a comprehensive payment solution provider, JCB commits to providing responsive and high-quality service and products to all customers worldwide.
For more information, please visit https://www.global.jcb/en/index.html
All information is current as of 4th November 2020

Corporate contacts:
NPCI
Swagata Gupta
98200 88951
swagata.gupta@npci.org.in

SBI
Ritesh Mehta
9930125097
Ritesh.mehta@sbi.co.in

JCB
Kumiko Kida, Ayaka Nakajima
+81-3-5778-8353
jcb-pr@jcb.co.jp

Copyright 2020 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com

Global Hospitality Leader Millennium & Copthorne Prepares for Post-COVID-19 Recovery of Hotel Operations

SINGAPORE / LONDON, Nov 18, 2020 – (ACN Newswire) – A year after delisting from the London Stock Exchange, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Limited (M&C), a global hospitality leader, disclosed today major initiatives that will prepare it for a recovery by as early as 2021 from the recent challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The privatisation granted M&C greater agility and cushioned impact of the pandemic. Lessons learned and operational changes in recent months have helped to lay a much stronger foundation. Properties across the globe have started to show 'green shoots' of improvements in occupancy and Gross Operating Profit (GOP) from the second half of 2020 which are expected to gain momentum in 2021.

London-headquartered M&C was privatised on 19 November 2019 after delisting from the London Stock Exchange at a valuation of GBP2.23 billion (S$3.96 billion). M&C operates 66 hotels (seven of which are managed by third parties) in Asia (12), Europe/UK (21), USA (18) and New Zealand (15) under the Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) global brands; and 79 are under franchise and management contracts.

M&C, with an inventory of over 40,000 rooms and operations in 29 countries, is wholly owned by Singapore Exchange-listed City Developments Limited (CDL), a leading global real estate company with total assets of over S$23.8 billion. CDL is also a Sponsor that holds an effective 37.8% effective stake in CDL Hospitality Trusts (CDLHT), a Singapore-listed Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) with a market value of over S$1.40 billion.

Assessing The Operating Landscape

In 2019, M&C recorded revenue of GBP1.025 billion (S$1.82 billion) (2018: GBP997 million (S$1.78 billion)) and a pre-tax profit of GBP102 million (S$181.2 million) (2018: profit of GBP106 million (S$188.3 million)) and included net valuation and impairment charges of GBP34 million (S$60.4 million) (2018: GBP36 million (S$101.2 million)). Excluding the effects of impairment losses and net revaluation gains, M&C reported profit before tax of GBP136 million (S$241.6 million) in 2019 (2018: GBP142 million (S$252.3 million)).

M&C has assessed as positive recent reports of vaccines against COVID-19, air travel 'bubbles', the recent US presidential elections and plans to hold the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 (postponed from 2020). The signing by 15 countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) world trade pact also points to a brighter future for the region.

In Singapore, where M&C operates over 2,000 hotel rooms, several properties will resume pre-COVID-19 activities such as selling rooms, corporate bookings, events and weddings in the next few months.

M&C recognises that in this 'new normal' hygiene is much more important when a customer chooses a hotel, restaurant or consider events; and that brands must look beyond 'personal touch' and ambience to include the promise of safety and to emphasise value for money.

The new business dynamics mean that large hospitality groups such as M&C must have sufficient working capital to weather possible prolonged uncertainty or even fresh lockdowns. Accordingly M&C management has outlined three strategic initiatives:

#1 – Engaging Customers Better; Digital Marketing and New Revenue Streams

Building on the 'We Clean, We Care, We Welcome' campaign launched in February 2020, M&C has chosen to keep as many properties open as possible throughout the pandemic. By staying open, its hotels in several regions have increased market share. Since Q4 2020, there has been a pick-up in individual bookings from small and medium corporate accounts in Singapore, New York and UK.

M&C will scale up digital marketing strategies to reach domestic retail consumers and target potential drive-in consumers residing within 300 km of hotels in certain cities in USA, UK and Europe.

To segment better its customer base, various brands now offer different price-value touchpoints. Reflecting the success of the digital strategy, online channels accounted for 80% of bookings as at end-September, up from 56% in 2019.

In the first 10 months of 2020, M&C booked 163,000 staycation nights (excluding the Middle East and North African region). At least 65% of staycation bookings were made through the M&C brand website by loyalty members. M&C expects that some parts of the corporate offline bookings, upon return, will be handled digitally as well.

In Singapore, two M&C hotels (Grand Copthorne Waterfront and Orchard Hotel) have portioned areas as pay-per-use co-working spaces since September and November 2020, respectively. Utilisation for such use has hovered at around 85%. Building on this success, this service has been launched elsewhere in Singapore in Copthorne King's Hotel and M Social, with Studio M and M Hotel next to roll out. M&C's London hotels have also re-purposed rooms for customers who want the space for work.

F&B menus have been shortened and rotated frequently to support fewer kitchen staff and reduce wastage in Southeast Asia, Taipei and in the UK. In gateway cities in North America M&C hotels offer reduced menus, focusing on signature dishes with 'sweet-spots' that combine turnover and operating margin. Singapore M&C hotels leveraged on signature dishes to compete with F&B operators.

Through these and other efforts, M&C's global occupancy rate in September 2020 has recovered to 40% from a low of 30% in June. M&C expects to close 2020 with an occupancy rate that is at least half the 73% rate achieved in pre-COVID-19 2019. Over the comparative periods, average rate per available room has increased by 23% to GBP25.4 (S$45.1) from a low of GBP20.61 (S$36.6). M&C entities have begun recovering from loss to Gross Operating Profit (GOP) in Asia (since May), New Zealand (since June), UK (since October). Global M&C GOP has been positive since July.

#2 – Lowering Global Cost Structure; Improving Efficiencies

As a major hotel operator, M&C has adopted group procurement, centralised functions and technological innovation for years. While staffing for the industry is unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, M&C's strategy is to lower the entire cost-structure through group and operational efficiencies, with staff layoffs as a last resort. Current efforts include:

i) Clustering functions such as administration, finance, marketing and communications to handle multiple properties in Singapore and across other regions; and

ii) Doubling of roles (e.g. regional GM doubling up as as a hotel GM; global function head also handling regional roles) and redeploying staff to handle multiple functions. Operations in various countries have been helped by tax relief and other Government efforts to offset wages.

Only after these efforts has workforce rationalisation been undertaken as a last resort. As at end-September 2020, total global headcount has been reduced by 36% compared to the end of 2019.

#3 – Review of Global Footprint To Align With Objectives of Parent Company

As a 100% subsidiary of CDL, M&C is able to tap the strengths of a parent with strong balance sheet and deep corporate experience. CDL exercises financial prudence such as stating investment properties in its accounts at cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment losses. CDL had grown the hospitality division over the last 25 years by acquiring entire portfolios, such as the Copthorne chain in 1995 and the Regal chain in 1999, as well as individual properties.

Land values of many M&C properties are now significantly higher than acquisition cost. However, in line with CDL's prudent strategy, assets held as investment properties have not been revalued to market. M&C recognises that while capital values of many properties have increased even amid the COVID-19 uncertainty, return on equity of such assets (from hospitality revenue and profits) is not likely to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels in the near term. Accordingly, M&C intends carry out the following:

i) As an international hotel operator, it will focus on key gateway cities globally including Singapore, London and New York. M&C will also focus on the four-star category under three brand collections – M Collection, Millennium Collection and Copthorne Collection – while maintaining several prized assets in the five-star and luxury categories under Leng's Collection;

ii) M&C has been and will continue to review and fine-tune the upgrade of its portfolio to better suit future market conditions. In 2020, M&C closed Copthorne Penang (since July) and deferred renovation for Millennium Hilton Downtown in New York which it announced before COVID-19; and

iii) Having received expressions of interest for various assets globally, M&C is assessing at least three offers. Some offers are subject to re-zoning and regulatory approval for change of use from hospitality. The sale of any of these assets, if concluded, is likely to result in significant gain on disposal. A case in point, M&C recorded gain on disposal of equivalent of S$26.4 million (GBP14.3 million) from the sale of Millennium Cincinnati, completed on 14 February 2020, for equivalent of S$49 million (GBP27.6 million). Based on current offers, M&C expects to conclude at least one such sale in 2021.

The outcome of these initiatives may reduce slightly M&C's global room inventory of over 40,000 at the end of 2019. But the revised footprint and inventory will sharpen focus and conserve human and financial resources to position M&C better for recovery from as early as 2021. Hotels which can return to sustained levels of profitability may also be seeded for acquisition by CDLHT (whose shareholders approved in January 2020 the acquisition of W Singapore – Sentosa Cove hotel from CDL at a valuation of S$324 million).

"M&C is strengthening its foundations to prepare for a recovery in hotel operations from as early as 2021. Our product has been refined to offer new revenue streams. We have improved processes, cost structure and digital marketing, amongst other efforts, as we prepare for improvements in business sentiment and confidence to travel. By streamlining our global portfolio in line with the strategy of our parent, M&C will emerge stronger and better positioned to benefit from a post-COVID-19 environment," said Mr Lee Richards, Vice-President Operations, South East Asia, Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

ABOUT MILLENNIUM & COPTHORNE HOTELS

Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) is the global brand of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Limited (M&C), a global hotel company which owns, manages and operates over 145 hotels across some 80 locations worldwide. It has four distinct hotel collections – Leng's Collection, M Collection, Millennium Collection and Copthorne Collection – throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the United States. Its properties are in key gateway cities such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. Occupying the best locations around the world, MHR has the perfect address for business and leisure travellers. M&C is the hotel arm of Singapore-listed global real estate company City Developments Limited, and is a member of the Hong Leong Group. Visit www.millenniumhotels.com for more information.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Gerry De Silva
Head, Group Corporate Affairs
Hong Leong Group
T: +65 6877 8538
E: gerry@cdl.com.sg
M: +65 97317122

Joanne Koh
Manager, Group Corporate Affairs
Hong Leong Group
T: +65 6877 8537
E: joannekoh@cdl.com.sg

Copyright 2020 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. http://www.acnnewswire.com