A new international hospitality brand and hotel called Wafaifo has been launched in central Vietnam. The company will open the 134-key lifestyle resort, the Wafaifo Resort Hoi An, in Q1 2024 as part of a strategic plan that includes a new mall, a hospitality asset management service, and other tourism-related projects.
The new company is based in Hoi An. Its name, Wafaifo, derives from “wa” from water, and “faifo”, the historical name of Hoi An.
Wafaifo intends to offer hospitality project consultancy across Indochina, drawing on the hotel industry expertise of its co-founders, Managing Director, Mr Pieter van der Hoeven, and Commercial Director, Mr Mikkel Krantz.
Van der Hoeven and Krantz will work to establish the Wafaifo brand, its flagship urban resort in Hoi An, and extend awareness of the diverse attractions of the area to an international audience. They will be supported by Wafaifo Deputy Managing Director Ms Uyen Ngo, who brings experience as the owner of a number of resorts in central Vietnam.
“We see a gap in the market for Wafaifo Resort Hoi An to establish itself as a proud and uniquely Vietnamese hospitality experience,” said Mr van der Hoeven. “We will also be drawing from a deep well of hotel industry understanding from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.”
Mr van der Hoeven, who has held senior executive roles at Raffles, Six Senses, Minor and Peninsula Hotels, added: “The Wafaifo Resort Hoi An will be our showcase property. It will offer a modern Vietnamese aesthetic and mind-blowing gastronomic and spa experiences for international and domestic travellers.”
The new brand will include a division called Wafaifo Optimisers, which aims to help hospitality clients launch new projects in the region and enhance operational efficiencies and profits.
While Vietnam’s tourism performance, like other Asian destinations, is still behind 2019 levels, there is a trend to higher quality tourists. The Vietnam National Administration for Tourism, reports that while visitor numbers to Vietnam are only 20% of 2019 levels, 2022 revenues of VND456.7 trillion (US$19 billion) are already 70% of the 2019 amount.
Year to date, South Koreans are Vietnam’s main source of tourists with around 763,900 arrivals followed by the US at 266,000.
“With the rebound in the travel sector, the timing is right for the launch of Wafaifo as a consolidated tourism concern,” said Mr Krantz. “Our analysis shows that we can expect to see very strong tourism and investment growth in Vietnam and the Indochina region over the next five or so years,” he said.
Wafaifo will make further announcements in early 2023.