Navigating Kuwait’s hospitality landscape

Navigating Kuwait’s hospitality landscape

With arts and culture in the spotlight, improved infrastructure and a new airport terminal under construction, Kuwait is working hard to attract more tourists. We reveal the challenges that lie ahead and what the country’s hospitality landscape may look like in 2024.


Looking back at 2023

Kuwait’s hospitality sector recovered relatively well post Covid-19. At the start of 2023, average hotel occupancy stood at 43 percent, with 4,000 rooms in the five-star category and 3,600 in the four-star category. According to Elie Saliba, cluster GM at Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Kuwait Al Thuraya City, H1 2023 showed positive signs of rebound, with an uptick in reservations and ADR growth. However, from July 2023 onward, hotels witnessed a drop in the number of guests, and occupancy fell due to the unstable political situation. Indeed, many guests cancelled their stay, especially in Q4 2023.

How 2024 is looking so far

It is clear that 2024 will be a challenging year for hotels. Federico Mantoani, general manager of Grand Hyatt Kuwait, stated that the high season will be shorter as Ramadan comes earlier. Urs Solenthaler, general manager of The Regency Hotel Kuwait, a five-star resort, added that the market conditions are much tougher, especially within the luxury segment.

Source markets

Traditionally, the KSA has been Kuwait’s feeder market. But figures show that more and more Saudis are traveling to Bahrain and UAE for leisure. Interestingly, Kuwait is attracting a greater number of visitors from the US and the UK.

The rise of F&B in hotels

With the vast majority of Kuwaitis eating out on a regular basis, particularly in hotels, four- and five-star properties are investing more heavily in their F&B offerings. Martin Kipping, general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya, stated that with five venues, the F&B offering at the property is not only diverse but also profitable, contributing to 50 percent of the overall revenue. However, for F&B to succeed, each restaurant needs a strong identity, independent of the hotel itself. Mantoani said that with a saturated market and countless high-end restaurants, hotels face the challenge of creating unique dining concepts.

The dilemma of talent retention 

Much like the rest of the world, hotel guests in Kuwait are seeking more personalized experiences, especially in the five-star segment. As such, soft skills are becoming more relevant, which is why hotels are creating training programs to educate staff on communication, empathy and leadership. At Four Seasons Kuwait, the team is supported by no fewer than 45 trainers.

Fadi Hijazin, CEO of Argana Hotels and Resorts, spoke about the challenges of retaining an increasingly younger workforce and the importance of empowering team members.

Sustainability in the spotlight

Recognizing their large carbon footprint, hotels in Kuwait are prioritizing sustainability and implementing strategies to minimize waste. There is also greater awareness among employees on eco-friendly practices and the need to be mindful about the environment.

Hijazin said that Argana Hotels and Resorts are LEAD certified and totally plastic free, while at Four Seasons Kuwait, Kipping said that they are bottling their own water and encouraging beach cleanups and tree-plating activities with local schools and the wider community.

What is needed

Many hoteliers believe that the government must play a more active role in supporting Kuwait’s hotel industry. Beyond partnering with the private sector, the public sector needs to ensure that tourist visas are hassle free to obtain and there are special provisions for tourists who wish to travel between countries in the region.

Furthermore, increased marketing efforts are needed to promote Kuwait as a leading MICE and mega-event destination.

Insights from HORECA Talks 2024 at HORECA Kuwait, co-organized by Hospitality News Middle East, Leaders Group and Hodema Consulting Services. Session moderated by Nada Alameddine, managing partner at Hodema Consulting Services.

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