Hard Rock eyes hotels across Asia

The company behind Hard Rock Cafe is looking to set up hotels across Asia, betting that people will find rooms with rock-and-roll-themed interiors attractive despite the global recession.

Hard Rock International Inc – which owns 124 Hard Rock Cafes and nine Hard Rock Hotels around the world – will open new hotels in Macau and Malaysia this year and is in talks to expand in „gateway“ Asian cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Bangkok, Chief Executive Hamish Dodds said on Thursday.

Another hotel will start operations in Singapore next year. Dodds, at a briefing to launch the USD 223-million, 360-room hotel in Singapore, said the company was in discussions with different developers and investors for the other Asian hotels.

Hard Rock Hotel Singapore will be one of the six hotels at the 49-hectare Resorts World at Sentosa, an entertainment complex comprising a casino, a Universal Studios theme park, an oceanarium and 1,800 hotel rooms being built by a unit of Malaysian casino operator Genting Bhd. The hotel will charge around USD 331.4 a night for a giant room with two queen-size beds and a big-screen TV – more than twice times the average room rate in Singapore.

Hard Rock International currently manages two hotels in Asia – one in the Thai resort town of Pattaya and the other on Indonesia’s Bali island. The other hotels are in the United States. Dodds said the firm’s hotels have been hit by the global recession, but he believed the Singapore venture would weather the downturn by tapping visitors from neighboring countries.

Singapore suffered a 15.2 drop in visitor arrivals in February from a year ago as the global economic downturn hurt tourism, the government said on Thursday. For 2009, the government expects tourist numbers to fall by about 10 .