Wealth magazine chronicles Hotel 81 founder's journey

Hotel 81 founder Choo Chong Ngen built the first Hotel 81 in Geylang in 1995. Now, with a portfolio of hotels in Singapore valued at $3 billion, he is looking to expand globally.
Hotel 81 founder Choo Chong Ngen built the first Hotel 81 in Geylang in 1995. Now, with a portfolio of hotels in Singapore valued at $3 billion, he is looking to expand globally.PHOTO: ST FILE
The April edition of Wealth magazine, which comes with The Business Times today, includes features on Hotel 81 founder Choo Chong Ngen, Asian markets and more.
The April edition of Wealth magazine, which comes with The Business Times today, includes features on Hotel 81 founder Choo Chong Ngen, Asian markets and more.

First, Geylang. Now, the world.

Hotel 81 founder Choo Chong Ngen built the first Hotel 81 in Geylang in 1995. Now, with a portfolio of hotels in Singapore valued at $3 billion, he is looking to expand globally.

The latest Wealth magazine, packaged with The Business Times today, chronicles his rags-to-riches journey, marked by determination, tenacity and an unerring nose for opportunity.

Mr Choo dropped out of school in his teens to help his family make ends meet. He began a textile sales business with a start-up capital of just $50. Today, he is among Singapore's wealthiest individuals.

He has set up Worldwide Hotels, a holding company comprising six hotel brands, 38 hotels and over 6,500 rooms. The overseas expansion, which started with two hotels in Thailand, is expected to need a capital investment of $500 million, which will be partly bank financed. The group aims to acquire 20 hotels over the next five years.

The April edition of Wealth also spotlights Asian markets, which have weathered a roller-coaster ride this year. Trade tensions have roiled markets and are likely to cause more volatility, but the message from the experts is clear: Stay invested in risk assets, but be diversified.

Asia valuations are attractive, and experts are optimistic that a resolution to trade disputes will be found.

UBS global chief investment officer Mark Haefele says: "Investors should ensure portfolios are well diversified and could consider put options to reduce portfolio volatility."

The Trusted Adviser column casts the spotlight on Union Bancaire Privee (UBP), which has expanded through acquisitions in the last few years when the private bank sector was consolidating. UBP has grown between 20 per cent and 25 per cent over the past two years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Wealth magazine chronicles Hotel 81 founder's journey'. Print Edition | Subscribe