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Change in ownership at Dalat Palace Hotel in Vietnam

Travel News Asia Friday, 14 July 2006

After years of negotiation, Danao International Holdings has bought out its local joint-venture partner and acquired a 100% ownership interest in a suite of resort properties in Vietnam.

Unfortunately, and for various reasons, the vast majority of joint ventures in Dalat have failed, said Barry Israel, chairman of Danao International Holdings.

The properties include the historic, five-star Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel, the four-star Novotel Dalat Hotel and Dalat Palace Golf Club, an 18-hole course that's been called out as the top layout in Vietnam by Golf Digest.

As a 100% foreign-owned property, Danao plans to promptly expand its interests in Dalat with a number of developments, including construction of a 300-seat ballroom and meeting facility adjacent to the Dalat Palace Hotel and a heated swimming pool. Danao has hired Archetype, a leading architectural firm in Southeast Asia, to design the new facility.

"For the same reason that golfers eye Dalat as a key destination, the climate, the historical integrity of the environs and proximity to Ho Chi Minh City make Dalat an especially attractive venue for meetings and conferences," Israel said.

In return for 100% control of the two hotels and the golf course, Danao shall assume the joint-ventures debt and give up 14 of 16 villas once managed by the joint-venture, Dalat Resort Incorporated.

Beyond the new facilities, Danao also plans to accelerate the hotels commitment to the buildings historical integrity by acquiring more period furnishings and reviving the early 20th century decor.

Were moving forward by looking backward, said Antoine Sirot, general manager of the Sofitel Dalat Palace and the Novotel Dalat. As we discover images of the hotel from its first grand decades pictures of what the rooms looked like, what the dining rooms looked like, the hallway and the grounds were replicating that detail, as thoroughly as possible, for consummate elegance.

The Dalat Palace was built in 1922 as the anchor to the fledgling colonial resort of Dalat. In 1991, Danao invested in the deteriorating hotel, initiating a $100 million resuscitation of several properties, including a neighboring colonial-era hotel, now known as the Novotel Dalat, and a Russian-built hotel on the coast at Phan Thiet, now known as the Novotel Ocean Dunes.

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