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Filipino tycoon plans to open hotels in Spain, US


EDGAR “INJAP” SIA, who turned a chicken BBQ startup into one of the biggest Philippine restaurant chains, said his hotel venture is seeking to raise as much as $125 million this year to ramp up overseas expansion.

Hotel 101 Global Pte. Ltd. runs a hotel in Manila and has 10 others in various stages of development in the Philippines. Its first foreign project in Niseko, Japan opens in 2025, and the next targets are Madrid and the US, where sites have been identified, Mr. Sia said in an interview.

The funds raised this year will be via private placement, he said. The entrepreneur aims to have Hotel 101 properties in 25 countries by 2026, mainly in the Asia Pacific and Europe. It plans to sell shares via a Nasdaq listing the same year, seeking a minimum valuation of $11 billion, Mr. Sia said.

Hotel 101’s selling point is to travelers who want predictability, he said. All rooms in the chain are 21 square meters with a double bed, a single bed, a stove, kitchen and refrigerator. Room rates are typically 25% lower than direct competitors, he said.

“With only one kind of room, Hotel 101 will be like Big Mac for hamburgers, iPhone for smartphones and Coca Cola for soft drinks — consumers know what to expect,” Mr. Sia, 46, said. “We have seen standardization work. In some ways, boring is good.”

Mr. Sia first shot to fame in 2010 when restaurant giant Jollibee Foods Corp. bought a barbecue chicken chain he started in 2003. He then partnered Jollibee Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong to form DoubleDragon Corp., which has developed shopping malls, warehouses and hotels.

Hotel 101 wants to be among the world’s five biggest hotel operators by 2040 with 500,000 rooms in 101 countries. Based on existing projects, it will have 7,331 rooms by 2025, making it the biggest Philippine hotel operator, Mr. Sia said.

“It’s a cutthroat industry,” said Jonathan Ravelas, managing director at Manila-based consultancy firm eMBM. “Mr. Sia’s success hinges on providing what money-conscious tourists want: safe, clean and comfortable rooms that fit the budget.”

Hotel 101’s expansion will be funded primarily through the sale of rooms to investors, who will get 30% of the hotel’s gross revenue in returns. Rooms will be priced at $100,000 to $250,000 a unit depending on the country.

Construction for Hotel 101 Madrid will start in the fourth quarter and the 800-room development is expected to open in the first quarter of 2026, Mr. Sia said. With rooms priced at $168,000 each, he predicts the project will be sold out within 12 months of its launch.

Sales will leverage on Spain’s Golden Visa program, where one of the ways for non-European Union citizens to get residency and visa-free rights is to invest 500,000 euros ($545,250) in property.

There’s “high demand for Spain’s Golden Visa from Asians and Latin Americans,” Mr. Sia said. Hotel 101 is “the perfect vehicle for Golden Visa applicants. It’s a passive investment instead of buying an apartment or a house that they have to worry over maintenance.” — Bloomberg

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The article was originally published in ABS-CBN and written by Katrina Domingo.

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