With Hong Kong's hotel sector in the doldrums, investors zero in on new-found favourite Singapore

By Yujing Liu and Sandy Li / SCMP | October 22, 2019 10:00 AM SGT
Prospective investors are hunting for bargains in Hong Kong's hotel real estate market, which is experiencing a sharp downturn, as tourists stay away from the city amid unprecedented protests over the past four months.
Analysts say the focus is now firmly on Singapore's hospitality sector that has seen a boom in transactions because of a strong outlook for tourism, unlike Hong Kong.
Peter Yuen, managing director and head of investment and sales at Savills, said deals were becoming increasingly difficult to close, as potential buyers were targeting discounts of between 20 to 30 per cent, but hotel owners were only willing to offer slight price cuts.
"Owners believe the market will recover once the social unrest is over," said Yuen.
Kimberley Hotel was sold for HK$4.3 billion last month. Photo: SCMP
Kimberley Hotel was sold for HK$4.3 billion last month. Photo: SCMP
Transaction prices of hotel properties in Hong Kong have dropped 5 to 10 per cent from the level before mass street protests erupted in June, according to Reeves Yan, head of capital markets at CBRE Hong Kong.
Last month, the 546-room Kimberley Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui was sold for HK$4.3 billion (US$548 million), Land Registry records show. Property consultants said the price was about 28 per cent lower than the owner's original asking price of HK$6 billion.
Investment firm Golden Wheel Tiandi Holdings recently sold its 141-room Silka West Kowloon Hotel Hong Kong at Tai Kok Tsui for HK$515 million, about 3 per cent lower than the original price of HK$530 million.
As tourists shun Hong Kong amid the increasingly violent anti-government protests, hotels are struggling to stay afloat. Occupancy rates in hotels across the city dropped to 64 per cent in August from 85 per cent in June, according to statistics from data analytics firm STR. Average room rates also fell 12 per cent to HK$1,075.
In Hong Kong, investments in commercial property in the third quarter fell to the second lowest level over the past six years as all major players stayed on the sidelines, according to a Savills report.
The Silka West Kowloon Hotel Hong Kong was sold for HK$515 million. Photo: Google
The Silka West Kowloon Hotel Hong Kong was sold for HK$515 million. Photo: Google
Meanwhile in Singapore, hotel property transactions skyrocketed by 545 per cent to S$2.8 billion (US$2 billion) in the third quarter from the previous three months, the highest quarterly level ever recorded, according to data from Colliers.
The jump was anchored by two major acquisitions by real estate investment trusts.
"Singapore continues to be an attractive destination, and additional investments ... should attract both corporate and leisure travellers in the next three to five years," said Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers.
At the same time, luxury homes in Singapore priced over S$10 million attracted more mainland Chinese buyers in the third quarter as they look for alternatives to Hong Kong, Song said.
Of the 315 luxury homes sold to foreigners in the third quarter, 97 units " or 31 per cent " were bought by Chinese nationals, making them the largest group of buyers in Singapore, she said.
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