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Red Rush edition

10 most stunning houses in the world

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Red Rush edition

10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

Red Rush edition
Red Rush edition

10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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Luxury View

10 most stunning houses in the world

Red Rush edition
Red Rush edition

10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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Spacy Room

10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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10 most stunning houses in the world

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Spacy Room

10 most stunning houses in the world

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Luxury Bedroom

10 most stunning houses in the world

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Creative Design

10 most stunning houses in the world

Creative Design
Creative Design

10 most stunning houses in the world

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beautiful Exterior

10 most stunning houses in the world

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Minor Hotel Group (MHG)

Minor Hotel Group (MHG) is a hotel owner, operator and investor, currently with a portfolio of 136 hotels and resorts in operation under the Anantara, AVANI, Per AQUUM, Tivoli, Oaks, Elewana, Marriott, Four Seasons, St. Regis and Minor International brands. Today MHG operates in 22 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe and South America. With ambitious plans to grow the hotel group to 150 properties, MHG continues to expand the home grown brand of Anantara and its newest brand, AVANI, plus continues to announce strategic acquisitions.

“We are excited to announce both the first Oaks in India and also the first Minor Hotel Group property in India," says Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotel Group.

DILLIP Rajakarier, the Sri Lankan-born chief executive of Minor Hotel Group, one of Asia's biggest hotel players, has got to know some of this country's more remote towns as part of his strategy of expanding the Oaks apartment group's footprint in Australia.

Three years ago, Rajakarier led the takeover of the ASX-listed Oaks Hotel and Resorts group by the Bangkok-based Minor Hotel Group. After the deal, which doubled the group's portfolio of hotel properties to more than 70, he was promoted from chief financial officer to chief executive officer.

Rajakarier saw the lack of upmarket accommodation in Australian mining towns as an expansion opportunity for the group. "In mining towns there's a huge shortage of quality accommodation," he says. "The sad thing is sometimes you have to stay overnight and the quality of accommodation is really bad."

Minor will open a new Oaks property in Gladstone, 550km north of Brisbane, early next year. The 144-bed apartment property, dubbed the Oaks Grand, is being built at a cost of $US50 million. But before then, newly built 4.5- star hotels in Middlemount, 240km inland from Rockhampton in central Queensland, and in Moranbah, a young coal-mining town inland from Mackay, will open later this month.

Bringing more Oaks properties to regional areas of Australia with transient working populations is part of Rajakarier's aggressive expansion strategy, which has boosted the total number of hotels to more than 97 in the past three years. He has a brief to grow the total number of hotel properties under the Minor umbrella to 150 in five years. "We are on track to get to our target," he says.

The Oaks acquisition not only considerably expanded the group but broadened its reach into mid-market territory. The group's flagship brand is the ultra-luxurious Anantara, which is also on a rapid growth trajectory, adding seven properties this year. "More Anantaras are coming - we have 24 now and the target is to get to 50," he says.

Rajakarier wants to expand the number of Oaks properties from the current 43 to about 60. His Australian growth plan also includes moving into more upmarket properties, bringing the five-star Anantara and Avani brands here. "We're mainly looking at Sydney and Perth. Perth is an attractive destination for travellers. Maybe some of the resort destinations too but we have to be careful because Anantara is very high end, so it's going to be very, very expensive in Australia."

In July, Minor bought management rights to Cypress Lakes in the NSW Hunter Valley as well two parcels of development land amid talk of a new hotel and additional villas. The rebranded Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort was officially launched this month. Meanwhile, Oaks has opened its fourth property in Melbourne, the brand-new Oaks on William.

Under Minor, the financially troubled Oaks group has turned around. Minor has delisted the public company from the ASX, expanded its portfolio and restructured its finances. "It's flying now, in spite of the fact the last few months have been soft, we're performing - outperforming, really," he says.

The Oaks model of limited service works well in Australia, where staff labour costs are high and customers are happy to cater for themselves. But in Asia and the Middle East, where Minor is expanding the brand, it has had to take the Oaks identity upmarket, adding food, concierge and turn-down services along with better bathroom amenities.

"People in Asia like to be served; therefore we had to customise the Oaks brand to cater for the Thailand market to match some of the other serviced apartment brands like Ascot and Frasers."

The first international Oaks in Asia, the Oaks Bangkok Sathorn, opened last November. Part of a two-tower complex previously occupied solely by Anantara, it illustrates a Minor strategy to co-manage and co-locate different brands.

"So the whole back of house has centralised functions - food and beverage, marketing, engineering - but from a face perspective it's different. An Anantara guest is greeted by Anantara staff, but guests going to Oaks are greeted by Oaks staff in different uniforms. When you have two hotels cohabiting, you don't have to duplicate any functions - and that's what costs you in salaries and benefits, so we're going to have economies of scale," says Rajakarier.

Minor sees a niche for Oaks properties next to its five-star Anantara hotels in China, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, tailoring the level of services to suit the market. In December, the first Oaks in China will open in Sanya, on Hainan Island. "In future Oaks, Avani and Anantara will be cohabiting and maybe the brand we just acquired, Per Aquum, will as well. We always look at it from an owner's perspective so giving two hotels to one operator you get the best return on your investment because you're not trying to steal business from one another," he says.

The group recently launched the upscale Avani portfolio, as well as acquiring the luxurious Elewana Collection in Africa and a 50 per cent stake in boutique hotel brand Per Aquum. Minor is now in 14 countries and its extensive list of hotels in the pipeline includes two Elewana Collection camps to bring its portfolio in Tanzania and Kenya to nine. In July it opened the Sand River Masai Mara Camp in Kenya, and Camp Amboseli, Kenya, will open later this year.

Rajakarier came to Minor in 2007 from Orient Express Hotels, where he was a key member of the team that acquired trophy assets such as Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Britain and La Residencia in Spain, and was promoted to CEO in 2011. In his time, the company's home-grown Anantara brand has grown from just three properties to the current 24 with more than 20 under development.

"For us the success is making sure we acquire good assets which we think are an opportunity. And we also make sure we deliver on value to our shareholders. Our growth has been quite phenomenal. Our share price has grown from 5.50 baht in 2008 to 25 now - that's a 500 per cent return on capital."

Rajakarier says the biggest challenge is finding people who are passionate about the business.

"We can deal with costs, tsunamis and all the other stuff. But country by country, expectations of work are different and cultures are different, so you have to get people who understand the culture, the work ethic and the expectations and then deliver," he says. "Today we would be one of the largest players in Asia, but it's not about domination; it's more about delivering on stakeholder value. We mean for everyone - shareholders, employees, banks, government, everyone. Sometimes it's a fine balance between satisfying shareholders and employees, but we would like to adopt a holistic approach that makes everyone happy."

It's a benign philosophy that has just one hole in it - when he has to spend too many nights roughing it in Australian mining towns.