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  • EXS

Southeast Asia-focused hostel chain Mad Monkey eyes Hong Kong as it looks to open 50 properties over

  • A fund platform operated by Singapore-based private equity fund EXS has invested US$4.6 million in Mad Monkey

  • EXS has led around US$1 billion of real estate investments since its founding in 2007

Mad Monkey Kuta Lombok in Indonesia. Photo: SCMP Handout

Singapore-based private equity fund EXS is looking to expand a hostel chain in Hong Kong catering to young travellers and digital nomads.

EXS Property Innovation Concepts VCC, a fund platform focused on “New Economy Real Estate” across Asia, recently invested US$4.6 million for an undisclosed stake in the Southeast Asia-focused hostel operator Mad Monkey.

Following a successful first round of fundraising, Mad Monkey aims to open up to 50 hostels in the next three years in Asia and Australia, said Chris Tai, a director at EXS, which has led around US$1 billion of investments into real estate businesses, including residential, office, data centres and hostels since its founding in 2007.

“Places like Hong Kong are very high on the list,” Tai said.

Chris Tai, a director at Singapore-based private equity fund EXS. Photo: Handout

EXS’ plan comes after the Hong Kong government said last week that it would relax some travel restrictions from April 1. These include the lifting of a ban on flights from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and the US and reducing hotel quarantine for arriving Hong Kong residents to seven days from 14. As many countries shift to living with the virus rather than trying to keep it out, non-residents cannot enter Hong Kong, except those arriving from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan. Mad Monkey’s hostels in Cambodia have been fully booked after the country opened its borders to all vaccinated tourists, said Klara Grintal, chief marketing officer of Mad Monkey. Oscar Chan, head of capital markets at JLL in Hong Kong said that the accommodation segment targeting “the high-end market for backpackers similar to YMCA” had high potential.

Mad Monkey, founded by four backpackers, opened its first hostel in Phnom Penh in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2011. It has now expanded to 11 locations in six countries, including Sydney in Australia, Bangkok in Thailand and Cebu in the Philippines.

The hostel chain has gained a reputation among young digital nomads and other experience-driven travellers in Southeast Asia for delivering sustainable and culturally immersive travel experiences.

Mad Monkey Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia. Photo: SCMP Handout

Unlike traditional hostels, Tai said Mad Monkey properties comprise between 50 and 200 beds and feature a sizeable common area for guests to hang out. He added that EXS was looking at a few properties in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei neighbourhoods with Mad Monkey and evaluating their potential.

Last year, seven hotels in Hong Kong changed hands for a total of HK$5.92 billion (US$756 million), according to data from JLL.

Some hotel operators have converted their properties for long-term rentals, student accommodation or co-living in the absence of tourists.

In Hong Kong, the supply of rooms provided by traditional guest houses fell by more than 6 per cent to 11,924 in the two years to September 2021. This came after the anti-government protests and the subsequent travel restrictions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a 99 per cent drop in tourist arrivals.


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