Standard boss Amber Asher is one of the smartest people in the hospitality industry. But The Standard International has so much going for it that we wonder if the company can handle it all.
international standardthe hotel company behind it The standard hotels and The Peri Hotel – and majority owner of Bunkhouse House Group — takes on a lot these days to meet its CEO’s aggressive expansion plans.
In 2019, the company had 14 hotels with around 1,500 keys. By the end of 2023, 25 hotels and around 2,500 keys should have three brands. That’s a growth of about 66 percent, or two-thirds.
- The company began 23 years ago when impresario Andre Balazs debuted The Standard near the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in Los Angeles, backed by stars including Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.
- The upside-down logo brand helped popularize the branded boutique hotel trend and has since grown in multiple locations.
- Balazs resigned from the company in 2017.
- Since 2019, the company has been majority-owned by Sansiri, a Bangkok-based luxury real estate company.
Former attorney Amber Asher pushed the company forward. I spoke to her for an update.
The Standard has a growth pipeline internationally and in America.
- Currently open are: Thilands Standard Hua Hin and Standard Bangkok. Mahanakhon; Spain’s Standard Ibiza; and the two US properties in New York and one property in Miami Beach; one in London; one in the Maldives.
- The pipeline includes The Standard, due to open in Singapore next year across from the Shangri La. Land is being developed in Austin, Brooklyn, Mexico, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon and Dubai. There is a new project in Pattaya, Thailand. A team is doing business development work in Latin America.
Branded lodging establishments are a hot topic for everyone from Marriott to Montage.
- The Standard Residences standalone non-hotel property is in the works in Midtown Miami.
- In Lisbon, new residences are being attached to the hotel there, and over 60 percent have already been sold.
The company’s bunkhouse brands, where motels and hotels range from about 20 to 90 rooms, are also growing.
- Nine open bunkhouses are located primarily in Texas, but also in California and Mexico.
- Next year, one will debut in Louisville, Kentucky by May and one in Mexico City by the end of the year. A bunkhouse will open in Houston in early 2024. Others will eventually be added in Fort Worth, Texas, and Fredericksburg, Maryland.
- The parent company wants to bring Bunkhouse to cities like London, Brooklyn and Bangkok.
- “Based on our model, which works well in these locations, we’ve been able to make rapid conversions and create a higher-touch, higher-margin lifestyle feel,” Asher said
- “We’re going to bring all of the bunkhouses together under one umbrella website,” Asher said. “This gives us the opportunity to build our customer base and more easily introduce standard loyalists to the brand.”
- “Bunkhouse has grown quite a bit during the pandemic because many of our existing owners have seen how nimble and agile the model was and what great operators and team members we had at our corporate headquarters,” Asher said. “We got several additional plots. That speaks for the quality of our teams and how we can carry out conversions in a short space of time.”
The Peri Hotel debuted in 2020 with two properties in Thailand’s Hua Hin and Khao Yai, and another due to open in Bangkok in 2024.
Standard International is particularly interested in finding partners for new projects in the US and Latin America, especially a standard in Mexico City.
- “We really want to make our owners, developers and capital partners proud, beyond just profitability, although that’s critical,” Asher said. “Our four US properties, for example, are performing better than ever, both in terms of revenue and profitability, thanks to optimized processes that we have improved. But we’ve made several openings and we’ve seen our partners’ faces light up when they see what they helped create.”
The company is also working on a technology project.
- The Standard had attempted to develop an independent mobile hotel aggregator app called OneNight in the style of HotelTonight, but the project fell victim to a pandemic.
- A soon to be announced project is in the works.
Thailand has been a major growth center for the company thanks to Sansiri, the majority owner.
- It has a team of approximately 40 employees at a corporate headquarters in Bangkok working to advance the company’s three brands regionally.
- You’ve explored new destinations like Shanghai, Bali and the Maldives.
It is daring for Standard International to take on so many challenges at the same time. Perhaps the most daunting goal is his effort to rapidly expand the lifestyle boutique hotel concept to half a dozen countries.
- Operationalizing the process to ensure quality is maintained requires paying attention to local needs and the latest trends. The whole thing could go haywire.
- “It’s not drag and drop,” Asher said. “Guests who know us in New York will wholeheartedly recognize us in our properties in Ibiza and Bangkok, but they may see a different design, nightlife program and food differently.”
- “We speak to communities of creators before we go into a destination to find out what they need and how to provide relevant new offerings,” Asher said. “We did research to connect the threads between our viewers and staff there. For example, we brought a Mexican-inspired restaurant to the top of Standard London and Standard Bangkok.”