The owners of some of Kuala Lumpur’s finest hotels are putting their properties up for sale as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cripple the travel and hospitality industry.
Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners executive director Shaharuddin M Saaid said many hotel owners want to cash in on their properties as revenue has all but dried up due to travel restrictions across the world.
Speaking to FMT, he said some 20 hotels had already closed, adding that this was no surprise.
In recent weeks, a number of unnamed hotels, including five-star properties, have been listed for sale on iproperty.com.my. Asking prices vary but five-star hotels are being listed from RM350 million to as much as RM1.7 billion in the city centre.
Shaharuddin said some hotel owners had already been preparing to sell their properties before the Covid-19 outbreak, while others had listed their properties to see what prices they could fetch.
“But the impact of Covid-19 is immediate, and many want to leave the industry,” he said, adding that industry players expect the recovery period to take six months to a year.
“We cannot rely on international tourism as other countries are also affected by the virus and there are flight restrictions.
“As for domestic tourism, the volume isn’t really there, especially if you are talking about higher-end properties, because many people’s incomes have been affected.”
Hotels are also faced with restrictions and cannot operate at full capacity.
“We can’t host meetings and events, there are restrictions for dining in, you can’t swim or use the gym – who would want to pay to stay at a hotel?”
Shaharuddin said those who bought the hotels now on sale might intend to turn them into service apartments or even commercial buildings.
“It really depends on the new owner. I doubt anyone will buy them to be used as a hotel, given the situation.”
Former Malaysian Association of Hotels president Cheah Swee Hee said he was not surprised that hotel owners were selling their properties, and that the problem was not due to Covid-19 alone.
He told FMT the sustainability of hotels had already been in question before that due to the oversupply of rooms from home-sharing services like Airbnb and the rental of properties on a daily basis.
“There are many properties run like hotels where you can stay on a daily basis, but this is not considered as part of the number of hotel rooms available in the state or country.
“So, you don’t actually know how much supply there is, and because of this, there is a glut of rooms available.” – FMT