Thistle Hotels is to travel across the Orient and expand the brand into the Asian hotel market – the group has announced an initial £11 million investment into two properties located in Malaysia - Port Dickson and Johor Bahru.

The expansion marks Thistle’s confident, two-year strategy to introduce the established UK Thistle brand internationally and is a natural progression for the company to explore its corporate home, where the global head quarters of Hong Leong, the group that owns Thistle is based.

The decision to renovate the two Malaysian properties - the first to launch being the Port Dickson Resort in Malaysia on the 1st June 2009 - marks a revolutionary time of development for Thistle and complements their £100million enhancement programme currently underway across all 33 UK properties.

Chief Operating Officer, Heiko Figge comments: “The UK market remains our primary focus; however this exciting advancement overseas is a great opportunity to extend our UK success story on an international platform.

“Asia has proven to be a strong leader in growth, with its business travel and domestic tourism markets soaring. We believe the Thistle brand is best placed to provide an unrivalled level of customer service and standard of facilities within its category in this emerging market.”

As Thistle’s UK properties are ideally placed for business or pleasure; covering most major cities and towns, the Asian properties have also been specifically chosen to capitalise on key business and leisure hubs - appealing to the rising numbers of both domestic and international guests travelling to the continent.

The first to launch is located in Port Dickson Resort. The 250 bedroom hotel is situated on 90 acres of stunning green land and boasts a nine hole golf course, two tennis courts, three restaurants, two bars and an outdoor swimming pool. Following the launch of Port Dickson will be Thistle’s property in the capital city of Malaysia, Johor Bahru - a short drive from Singapore. The hotel will offer 381 bedrooms, including 125 luxury rooms, two restaurants, two bars, a large events space (650 capacity) and an outdoor swimming pool. Thistle is part of Guoman Hotels Ltd, owned by Malaysian-founded Hong Leong Group, which operates core businesses in a diverse range of industries.