Amid talks of the possible privatization of financial real estate company Wheelock, its subsidiary has now announced the temporary closures of a key property in Hong Kong for apparent renovations. Wharf Hotels announced that it will be closing down one of its most iconic properties until the third quarter of 2021.
The hotel to be closed will be the company's Prince Hotel in the Harbor City Commercial Complex in Kowloon. The hotel will be closed for 15 months for renovations. The hotel is one of a trio of properties owned by the company in the Canton Road vicinity of Tsim Sha Tsui; the other two being the Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel and the Gateway Hotel.
Trading for the company's shares along with its parent company Wheelock and Co were suspended this week following talks of possible privatization. Wheelock is apparently considering buying out all shares from minority shareholders at a large premium to take the company private.
Wharf Hotels president, Jennifer Cronin, mentioned in a statement that the renovation is meant to create a "sustainable long-term economic future" for the company and the property itself. She added that they look forward to the rebuilding of the property and the future of the company.
The renovations that will be done to the Prince Hotel will include the installation of new bedroom and bathroom furnishings. New fixtures, a new Continental Club lounge, and a new dining area will also be added. Wharf Hotels also revealed in a statement that once the renovations are done, the establishment will be renamed the Macro Polo Prince Hotel.
Industry experts have pointed out that Wharf Hotels may be taking advantage of the slowdown in the hospitality and tourism sector in the city following the months of public unrest and the recent scare caused by the viral epidemic in mainland China.
The months of March and April are also the slowest months in terms of occupancy, which makes it the perfect time for the company to conduct major renovations. According to ChinaChem Group, at least six other hotel operators in the city have chosen to undergo renovations.
Vacancy rates in Hong Kong have dropped to record lows over the past quarter as the slew of challenges has driven away visitors from the city. According to government data, daily visitors coming to the city had fallen to around 100,000 people for the month so January, representing a 50 percent drop from the number of daily visitors over the same month last year.
Apart from hotels, Hong Kong is also host to a number of gatherings that include conferences, trade shows, and athletic events. Due to the months of public unrest, most of those events were canceled or postponed. The spread of the viral epidemic has also worsened the situation as it warranted the cancellation of public gatherings.