Citadines, a well-known aparthotel brand under The Ascott Limited (Ascott), has unveiled a fresh new look. With 80 properties currently in development across 56 cities worldwide, Citadines is catering to an ever-growing number of city dwellers who appreciate the comfort of a serviced residence and the flexibility of a hotel.
The aparthotel brand is known for its quality city living, and the new tagline, ‘For the Love of Cities’, captures the essence of what the brand is all about. Citadines offers travelers a unique perspective of each city it is in, and this is reflected in the design and service philosophy of its residences.
The Citadines aparthotel brand refresh comes at an opportune time, as the travel and tourism industry in Southeast Asia continues to show signs of recovery and growth post-pandemic. With an expanding network of properties across the region, Citadines is well-positioned to capture the hearts of urbanites who love nothing more than exploring new cities.
Travel Asia Now’s Founding Editor-in-Chief Rhea Vitto Tabora interviews Wong Kar Ling, Ascott’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia (SEA) and Head of Strategy and Global Operations, on the Citadines aparthotel brand refresh and its significance within the current hospitality landscape.
Rhea Vitto Tabora (RVT): What was the motivation behind the Citadines aparthotel brand refresh?
Wong Kar Ling (WKL): Citadines is the group’s fastest-growing brand and since our acquisition of the chain in Europe more than 20 years ago, we have quadrupled its portfolio with 104 properties in operation. As we look to expand our footprint in key cities in the world and continue to grow our brand presence, it was an opportune time for us to refresh the brand as part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen our brands via a Brand360 approach.
We believe in the market potential of aparthotel living and understand that the serviced apartment business has transformed, with travelers seeking well-rounded hospitality experiences, beyond just a space. This refresh helps pivot our offerings towards a hybrid model that would not only allow us to offer the option of both hotel rooms and serviced residences, but also a robust program that better caters to the lifestyle needs of our guests.
RVT: How does the refreshed Citadines brand reflect travelers’ evolving needs?
WKL: Young professionals today are shuttling across cities and taking ‘bleisure’ (business and travel) trips in between projects. They are seeking to live the best local experiences before heading on to work on the next big thing and our refreshed Citadines brand aims to fulfill their travel aspirations.
These include activities and programs to jumpstart city living, coffee-related experiences including partnerships with local communities, as well as convertible features which allow for the transformation of rooms and property spaces to suit the daily work and lifestyle needs of our guests.
RVT: What are the key brand signatures of the refreshed Citadines?
WKL: There are four key brand signatures across all Citadines properties. A key brand signature is ‘activ∞’ (pronounced as activate), which is the curation of amenities and programs to jumpstart city living. This will ensure guests can live, work and play seamlessly within the property and around the city. It includes resident events that are specially designed to activate the infinite possibilities of city living, fitness amenities and programs that encourage an active lifestyle.
Another signature program is ‘For the Love of Coffee’, which includes in-house programs, workshops and collaborations with the local community to deliver unique coffee-related experiences to guests. Aims to bring guests together, enabling a shared, immersive experience in every city.
Other brand signature initiatives include a café check-in experience, where guests will be greeted by an integrated reception incorporating the relaxing vibes of a café and convertible features, which allow for the transformation of rooms and property spaces to suit the daily work and lifestyle needs of guests.
RVT: What significance does Citadines have in Southeast Asia’s thriving hospitality landscape? What impact do you think the refreshed Citadines brand will have on Ascott’s growth in Southeast Asia?
WKL: The continued expansion of Citadines, along with the brand refresh, will further drive the growth of both corporate and leisure travel, which are making a major comeback across Southeast Asia (SEA).
The region’s travel market is expected to grow 1.3 times by 2027, from US$80 billion in size in 2020, boosted by factors including the easing of travel restrictions and government support. This rebound will undoubtedly welcome a new demographic of travelers who hold renewed expectations and a preference for unique, extended stays.
Addressing these priorities is essential in ensuring the hospitality industry successfully captures the needs of travelers today. Against this trajectory, Citadines will fit nicely into SEA’s hospitality landscape through our new brand signatures and sharpened brand purpose.
With one of the most extensive global footprints among aparthotel brands, Citadines will also enable The Ascott Limited to stay ahead of the curve and cement our position as a leading hospitality company. The brand will also further showcase our excellence in hospitality operations and commitment to be the top accommodation brand of choice, on the back of being recognized as Asia’s leading serviced apartment brand for the seventh consecutive year at the recent World Travel Awards.
RVT: How is Ascott staying ahead of the curve in terms of meeting travelers’ needs?
WKL: We recognize the growing popularity of serviced apartments among travelers. Serviced residences have also continued to be our mainstay, accounting for over 60% of new signings last year. Alongside this growth, our portfolio of brands has constantly evolved to fit the changing needs of guests through innovative programs and features, such as Citadines’ key brand signatures, in order to deliver a quality experience for all guests.
As digital transformation continues to make waves in the hospitality industry, we have also integrated tailored digital offerings into our core operations to elevate the overall guest experience.
In fact, over 80% of travelers have said that the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly, according to a recent survey by Virtuoso. We are well aware of the importance of sustainability and have started our own sustainability journey across our brands. We have incorporated green elements into our properties such as using materials from sustainable sources and recycled products, and working with environmentally responsible partners.
We are also currently working on a new sustainability framework which will be a core part of our business and brands and already have a number of initiatives in place.
RVT: What are some of the key trends you are seeing within the hospitality space in the region?
WKL: There are a few key trends that we are seeing in the hospitality space in Southeast Asia.
The first is the rise of the digital nomad lifestyle. Remote working is here to stay. Working remotely is forecasted to become more than just a passing trend due to the pandemic. A recent study has found that more than 56% of employees in Asia-Pacific want flexible work, with options to work in the office and remotely. Hotels as well as serviced apartments are increasingly being used as offices for bleisure travelers and locals seeking a change of work environment.
Second, health and well-being are now top of mind for travelers. Self-care and mental well-being have become important focus areas for them, especially after the pandemic. There is a growing group of travelers who are looking for wholesome experiences and are increasingly traveling with an intention to enhance their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Third, we are seeing an increase in sustainable and eco-conscious travel. Sustainability has become a key focus for travelers, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. According to Booking.com’s Sustainability Report 2021, 73% of travelers would be more likely to choose an accommodation if it has implemented sustainability practices. Of those surveyed, 61% said the pandemic made them want to travel more sustainably in the future.
With knowledge of these key trends, we are confident that as we continue to grow our brands, The Ascott Limited is in a good position to address the growing needs of our guests in the future.