Mapletree Investments' strong appetite for serviced apartments has kept Mr Dean Schreiber, the managing director of Oakwood Asia-Pacific, very busy since he started his role.
He told The Straits Times in an interview yesterday that he had just joined the company when Mapletree Investments first took a 49 per cent stake in it.
In the same deal, Mapletree signed a $5 billion joint venture with Oakwood Asia-Pacific's United States-based parent company to open new serviced apartments around the world.
"We'd like to hit 105 properties by 2020 - that's a mixture between what Mapletree is acquiring and the relationships we have with third-party owners," he said.
"It's a big target, it's a tripling of our current portfolio in about 31/2 years," he said, adding that he spends much of his time looking for new properties around the world.
Number of properties across Asia-Pacific Oakwood had when Mr Dean Schreiber started his role.
Number of such properties the firm has now.
Under his charge, Oakwood has grown from a portfolio of 19 properties to 33 properties across Asia-Pacific in about two years. The firm also manages Mapletree's acquisitions, which include at least nine corporate housing and serviced apartment assets in the US and Australia.
In February this year, Temasek-owned Mapletree deepened the partnership by acquiring Oakwood Worldwide for an undisclosed sum.
Mr Schreiber said that while serviced apartments have long been seen as a "poor cousin" to hotels, the company has an attractive niche of operating serviced apartments with hotel services.
"We think that by balancing long-stay customers, who make up about 60 to 70 per cent of our customers, with short-stay customers who make up about 30 per cent, we get the best returns," he said.
The firm aims to hit a gross operating profit of about 60 per cent for its serviced apartments, compared with hotels which hit about 40 to 45 per cent.
Oakwood unveiled its first offering here last week, the 98-unit Oakwood Studios Singapore just off Orchard Road. The serviced apartment property with Instagram-worthy design features "aimed at the millennial-minded" is the first under the Oakwood Studios brand. It has a minimum stay of seven nights and offers "curated experiences" such as being able to order a piano to play in the room.
'Eight or nine' properties to open across Asia-Pac this year
It is also the first Oakwood branded property in Singapore since the firm opened its regional headquarters in Singapore in 1997.
Mr Schreiber joked that the company likely did not intend to wait years to open its first property, but was "looking for the right place".
He added that Mapletree had "nothing" to do with the latest property, or the OUE-owned property which Oakwood will manage in Shenton Way later this year.
Mapletree manages the design for their own acquisitions, but does not get involved with third-party owner assets, he said.
The Oakwood Studios property is owned by private firm Newfort Realty, which bought the 37-unit freehold estate Chateau Eliza in a collective sale in 2012.
Daunted by the residential market then, Newfort decided to convert the 68-unit residential project to a serviced residence.
Mr Schreiber said that the decision was made to launch the Oakwood Studios brand here, as "we want to do something really big with this product".
"Having it in our backyard makes sense so we can manage it and be involved in it," he said.
He said that the company will open "eight or nine properties" across Asia-Pacific this year, after a rapid ramping up from 2015.
Despite the economic slowdown, he expects a growth in demand here of about 8 per cent this year. Demand for serviced apartments will continue to grow as it is driven by global mobility and people relocating, especially since employees do not usually come with large expatriate packages any more, he said.