By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
VANCOUVER — The new owners of the Coast Hotels chain received an enthusiastic welcome Sept. 6, as employees stood under the Coast Coal Harbour port cochère in downtown Vancouver to welcome Toshio and Fumiko Motoya with a pink carpet ceremony — since pink is one of the colours on the Coast logo.
At the joint press conference and reception that followed, Canadian-based Coast Hotels officially announced its acquisition by APA Hotel Group, the largest hotel network in Japan. With the acquisition of Coast's 38 properties throughout North America at a cost of $210 million, APA now has 413 hotels and 66,926 rooms.
The deal marks the second step in APA's expansion into North America. The company took the first step last year, with the purchase of the APA Hotel Woodbridge in New Jersey. “We now have properties from coast to coast,” noted Toshio Motoya, founder and president of APA Group.
At the press conference Motoya stated “Coast Hotels is a recognized and respected brand. APA Group intends to position Coast Hotels as a sub-brand of APA Hotels & Resorts, boosting the ability to attract guests through the synergy of the expanded brand offerings.” He further advised “APA expects to make Vancouver, which is strategically located to leverage Asia Pacific, its base of operations and head office for North American development.”
“The Coast Canadian hotel brand is widely recognized in Canada and the Western U.S.,” said Motoya, adding that they will unify the points and reservation systems.
“Today is a very memorable day, and the start of the new history of Coast Hotels,” said Victor Komoda, president of Coast Hotels. “We are very pleased at this moment and honoured to be part of the group. When I became president, my commitment was to grow the business, because without growth we cannot survive.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Toshio Motoya gave the media group some insights into the company's operations.
He said APA (which rhymes with Napa and stands for Always Pleasant Amenity) has been in business since 1971. In 45 years, they have never had a deficit and have never laid off an employee due to downsizing.
“The company is the No. 1 hotel chain in Japan, both in name and in substance. Guests and staff members are on an equal basis. The staff welcomes guests with pride, and it is our hope that our guests also feel proud choosing APA Hotel.” The Japanese word for this spirit of hospitality is “omotenashi.”
Key to APA's current and future success is its own Urban Style hotel concept, which provides high quality, highly functional and environmentally friendly hotels for its customers. “We have abolished unnecessary services, and kept services that reflect the personalities of our guests,” Motoya said.
Beds and televisions have been enlarged — in fact, the APA standard is 50-inch televisions in all guest rooms. All switches are located near the pillow. “We sell satisfaction rather than space,” Motoya added, noting the while public areas are luxurious, the rooms are not large.
Other features include coloured towels, so that each occupant of the guest room knows which towels are theirs, washlets (Japanese-style bidets) and egg-shaped bathtubs.
APA is also taking steps to be environmentally friendly, with their CO2 emissions per room pegged at one third those of a typical urban hotel.
Fumiko Motoya, president of APA Hotel, who addressed the press conference in English, said she was so glad to come to Vancouver, and also to New Jersey for the opening of APA Hotel's first overseas property, gaining momentum towards its global strategy. She said she has visited Canada twice and was impressed with how the company values its ambassadors. She stressed that APA Hotel is a family-owned business, and that she treats her employees the same as her children — sometimes strict and sometimes gentle. She expects that APA and Coast will both benefit through sharing ways of managing hotels.
The company's growth will not stop with the acquisition of Coast — with more than 60,000 guest rooms now, the company aims to reach 100,000 rooms by 2020.