Friday, June 24, 2011

Pan Pacific's Shopping List

Todd Wynne-Parry is on a shopping spree. But if he finds what he's looking for, he won't be able to fit it into a shopping bag.

Wynne-Parry is shopping for hotels. Not to book them - to buy them.

Vice President Development, North America for Pan Pacific Hotels Group, Wynne-Parry has been based in San Francisco for about a year. His mission: to acquire and rebrand hotels in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco for his employer, a Singapore-based hospitality company known for its sleek, business-oriented hotels and refined, discreet Asian hospitality.

I met over coffee with the Michigan-born executive, who has worked in the Asia Pacific region for InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Worldwide Hotels and Resorts and Marriott Corp., among others, before he returned to the United States for Pan Pacific (

Wynne-Parry tells me his company nearly landed and reflagged a JW Marriott in San Francisco, but that deal didn't come together.

The company is keen to get back into the San Francisco market. There was a Pan Pacific Hotel not far from the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market streets but the group lost the hotel a few years ago; it is now Parc 55. Somewhere near Union Square or South of Market (San Francisco's trendy SOMA district) would be right, he says. Those areas are both close to the city's Moscone Convention Center.

Pan Pacific - a corporate sister of ParkRoyal Hotels - also wants to be in New York because, well, it's New York; Chicago, because it's a major business and leisure destination, and Los Angeles, due to its market-size, marquee name and presence on the Pacific Rim. "Somewhere in the West L.A. corridor'' that runs between downtown L.A. and Santa Monica would be best there, he says.

Generally, the company prefers management contracts to outright ownership, but will look at both options. "It depends on opportunity and if the pricing isn't ridiculous,'' he says. And they'd rather acquire "a hotel that has good bones,'' reflag it, change the reservations system and the staff uniforms and get busy. But they'll do an extensive renovation if the hotel needs one.

"It's on a case-by-case basis.''

Pan Pacific, a subsidiary of UOL Group Limited, a leading Asian property company, already has properties in Whistler, British Columbia (two of them, in fact), Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. It is also growing in Australia and China. When I ask about the competition, Wynne-Parry cites Starwood's Westin brand, Marriott, InterContinental and Sofitel as key rivals.

Pan Pacific is a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance, a joint marketing venture that includes Leela, Kempinski and Omni hotels. GHA Disovery is the group's shared customer loyality program.

Prime hotels are not exactly selling cheap in the U.S. at present, but if Wynne-Parry succeeds in his four target markets, travelers - especially business travelers - can expect to see Pan Pacific hotels in more U.S. cities. "Our secondary circle would include Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston and San Diego,'' he says.

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