Following the launch of SLS Dubai, HN spoke with Chadi Farhat, COO of sbe, to highlight the brand’s strategic developments in the MENA.
How important does the region stand in your global development strategy?
SLS Dubai’s opening is integral to our global development strategy as it marks SLS’s entry into the Middle Eastern market and sbe’s second property following the Mondrian Doha launch in 2017.
Tell us more about the uniqueness of SLS?
SLS combines all the classic ingredients and cornerstones of luxury: bespoke service, elegant styling and refined detail with a spirit that’s entirely unexpected – playfully mischievous, wittily surprising and just a little sexy. SLS has successfully created a new kind of unrivalled luxury.
How did COVID-19 impact your growth plans for the region?
COVID-19 did slow down the process of construction and delivery of materials for some projects, as we continue to be compliant with the region’s rules and regulations. However, in terms of our plans, we had set within the pipeline front, COVID-19 did not cause much of an impact to our expansion in the region.
What did you learn from this crisis on a personal level and as a company?
On a personal level, I’ve learned just how much I appreciate the power of human connection. While I personally miss interacting with my friends and loved ones, it’s also a critical element within the hospitality industry. From a business perspective, we have learned to be as innovative as possible while also adapting to the new normal. Throughout the pandemic and moving forward, we will offer our guests a safe environment – all while cultivating memorable experiences from culinary to wellness and everything in between.
How did you emerge?
From the pandemic, we connected closely with our global team and nurtured an unwavering team spirit. More importantly, the pandemic pushed and allowed us to consider innovative solutions that would lift our guests’ spirits. For example, we partnered with DOGPOUND, where we brought one of the most well known fitness trainers to selected properties to provide virtual training for our guests.
How do you assess the latest M&As in your company? Do you think many other hospitality groups will act similarly?
We are very excited to be part of Accor and this has been the plan since 2018. While we place an emphasis on staying true to the brand that we created, we are looking forward to growing our global footprint comprised of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and spas with the Accor Lifestyle Platform. This strategy is part of Accor’s recent announcement regarding its planned venture with Ennismore, which will see the creation of one of the world’s largest and fastest growing lifestyle and entertainment operators.
Which MENA markets interest you most and why?
The growth of The Accor’s Lifestyle platforms and brands is truly on a global scale as we are looking at properties in the greater MENA region. The Middle East in general is notably central for our company as we are planning to establish more brands in the region, particularly in the GCC .We are also expanding to Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America with major announcements in the few coming months.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects in the region?
We are opening one of our company’s most significant ventures in Q2 – SLS Dubai Hotels & Residences. This is a project that we have proudly developed in collaboration with World of Wonders Real Estate Development. The property will feature 254 uniquely designed hotel rooms, 321 hotel apartments and 371 branded residences and most importantly, some of sbe’s most valuable culinary and mixology brands such as Carna by Dario Cecchini, Fi’lia and Privilege, to name a few. We are also opening a second property in Dubai on The Palm called The8, a House of Originals Hotel, as well as other properties in the region under the Mondrian, 25hours and Hyde brands.
Are you willing to further develop your F&B offering in the MENA?
Yes! MENA is a very important and lucrative market and we will continue developing in the region and partnering with local F&B operators.
Where do you see sbe in the next five years?
Within the next five years, our goal is to open more than twenty properties for the Mondrian and SLS brands across North America, South America and Asia, significantly expanding our global footprint.