"As the financial crisis spills all over the world, it is an opportunity for Dusit International to buy hotels at lower prices," group chief executive officer Chanin Donavanik said yesterday.
He said the group expected to finalise some of the deals over the next 12 to 16 months, adding that Dusit's cash flow is sufficient to finance the global acquisition programme.
Currently running 17 hotels, the chain plans to open one more every two months, mostly overseas. Each of the properties will be managed under one of the group's brands: Dusit, D2, Dusit Princess, Dusit Residence and Dusit Deravana.
As the global crisis hits home, some Thai companies have been forced to review their investment plans. Only a few are financially strong enough to proceed with major plans or to venture overseas.
Octavio Gamarra, Dusit's group senior vice president, said the group was negotiating to take over hotels in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, following approaches from current owners who are quoting attractively low prices.
Despite the global credit squeeze, Dusit has maintained its business plans. It will open the dusit D2 baraquda in Pattaya next month, followed by the Dusit Thani LakeView in Cairo in January, the Dusit Thani The Palm Jumeirah in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, and the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi in July 2010.
Moreover, Dusit Residence Serviced Apartments are planned for Egypt and the United Arab Emirates over the next two years.
These properties have been planned since Dusit returned to the international business scene three years ago.
Chanin said that despite the expansion, the group was stressing cost control. While overseas growth continues, operating costs are frozen.
As part of the cost-control plan, the group will maintain its workforce at 7,000 without any plan to recruit new employees over the next 12 to 16 months. Although the outlook for the domestic tourism industry is dim - with one forecast that at least 100,000 jobs are at risk - the group has no plans to shed staff, he added.
Aside from overseas expansion, Dusit is looking to grow in the domestic market despite the economic slowdown.
The group yesterday held a management-contract signing ceremony for a new hotel, the Chatrium Suites Bangkok, which is a property of Bangkok Bank chairman Chatri Sophonpanich.
Located on the Chao Phya, it is the first partner of Dusit to compete against the five-star hotels along the river. Targeting businessmen and travellers, the 396-room all-suite hotel is set for a soft opening next month.