In 2022, Agnès Roquefort, global chief development officer for Accor,
had a busy year. Between new signings and hotel openings, on average
she added roughly one new hotel to the Accor portfolio each day.
The group saw growth in almost all markets, including on its home
turf in Europe and through notable deals like the AU$620 million (US$428
million) agreement with Salter Brothers in Australia to convert 11
existing properties to Accor brands. But the upswing in tourism came
back to Asia more gradually.
Now that almost all restrictions have been lifted across the region, “You can feel the good vibes,” she said.
Appealing to guests and owners
With 30 brands globally, not all of which are present in
Asia-Pacific, Roquefort says the variety is a great advantage for Accor
not just to appeal to guests but also to support owners and investors,
depending on the destination.
“Owners come to Accor because there is a fit with the brand,” says
Roquefort, often “because they have stayed in a hotel and they love the
brand.” In her experience, affinity and gut feeling often precede
questions about performance and commercial terms.
This is particularly important as a younger generation of hoteliers
takes over. “We can see the new generation who want to continue to
develop the family business,” while leaving their own mark.
She also sees new players entering the market. “There are digital,
high net worth individuals who now want to invest in the hospitality
sector. For them, lifestyle hotels are super cool and correspond to
their generation, their way of living, and partying.”
Differentiation is key
However she underlines the importance of giving each brand a distinct
personality. “We love our brands and our brands have a heart and a soul
whether for business, leisure or bleisure.”
“It’s great to go to a Novotel for corporate [travel] because you
have a convention or business travel and a Mama Shelter or an M Gallery
in a leisure destination,” she says. A Mercure, she notes, will have
more local flair as how a Novotel is more modern, while Ibis offers
affordable hospitality and design.
Agnès Roquefort likens Accor to Zara, sharing that the group has an eclectic range of brands from budget to luxury for every traveller.
When asked if the range of choice is like a retail experience in a
shopping mall, she grins at the comparison. “We are the Zara of
hospitality with [mid-scale brands] Ibis, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman that
are very well-known brands in the sector, scalable brands that have to
be very agile and on trend.”
The group’s luxury and lifestyle brands like Raffles or Fairmont are
“more curated and personalised, with more expertise and depth,” she
says. “This is the differential.” She cites examples like Hôtel des Arts
in Ho Chi Minh City (“pretty spectacular”), the recently opened V
Villas in Phuket, both part of the M Gallery collection, as well as
upcoming projects like Singapore’s second Raffles in Sentosa or the
Fairmont in Tokyo.
Markets with potential
“We are in many markets in APAC where we are leaders. Historically
Thailand and Indonesia have been strong for us but in 2022, Vietnam was
particularly on fire.”
There are still destinations that are just waiting to be discovered.
“We already have properties in Cam Ranh [in Vietnam]. In the Philippines
we are looking at some projects, nice places that are not yet
overcrowded, taking some risks with our investors and partners.” Lombok
is another destination where Accor was the first international group to
There are also destinations that are a good fit with flagship
properties of different brands. “In Singapore we will open a Mondrian,
so a lifestyle brand. We’ve opened Tribe in Phnom Penh with a great
rooftop.” She also singled out the Grand Mercure in Phu Quoc and the
Pullman in Orchard Road in Singapore as properties that epitomise their
There is every reason to believe that the growth will continue,
despite challenges that the world is facing, from inflation to conflict.
“There is a true bounce back, but let’s be humble,” concludes
Editor’s note: In January 2023, Accor reorganised its hotels into two divisions. Roquefort became a member of the Luxury & Lifestyle Executive Committee, and was named the chief development officer of the division.