Reaching new heights with Ludwig Bouldoukian

Reaching new heights with Ludwig Bouldoukian

As Hyatt’s regional vice president of development in the Middle East and Africa, Ludwig Bouldoukian has insider knowledge of the market, trends and opportunities. We discuss the Hyatt brand’s growth plans and what really matters to guests.

Where does Hyatt hotels stand in terms of its growth trajectory and its strategy for the MEA region?
The Hyatt brand is going from strength to strength and is continuing its expansion in the MEA region with the development of several projects. At present, we have 29 Hyatt-branded properties in the region, with an additional six properties slated to open by the end of 2025. Currently, the variety of hotel brands we have in the region offers guests and World of Hyatt members an array of experiences, from luxury to lifestyle, across world-class brands that include Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Andaz, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt House and Hyatt Place, to name just a few.

The debut of our luxury wellness brand Miraval in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an exciting step for us. Indeed, we plan to open Miraval The Red Sea in 2025.

Hyatt is recognized for the strength of its brands and standout properties, and we hold a unique position in the market in terms of our scale and footprint.
Looking forward, sustainable growth in strategic markets that matter the most to our guests will be Hyatt’s main focus.

Which markets are you most interested in tapping into and why?
The Middle East is and will remain a key focus for Hyatt. We have several exciting projects coming up in Saudi Arabia — a market that continues to play a pivotal role in Hyatt’s growth strategy in the Middle East. Hyatt anticipates room growth of more than 80 percent in the kingdom by late 2025, with several openings in the next four years, including Grand Hyatt The Red Sea, Miraval The Red Sea and Park Hyatt Riyadh Diriyah Gate.

We are also establishing a firm foothold in Qatar. The opening of Andaz Doha in Q4 2022 will mark the debut of the luxury lifestyle brand in the country and will be the sixth Andaz hotel in the region.

This year, we also welcomed Grand Hyatt Kuwait, another impressive regional brand that has set a new standard for luxury hospitality experiences in the city.
The UAE and Oman also remain important markets, where we continue to observe growing demand for our diverse portfolio of properties.

Globally, South Africa is a market in which we are significantly expanding our footprint. Indeed, 2023 will see the reintroduction of the Park Hyatt brand in South Africa, with the launch of Park Hyatt Johannesburg in the first half of the year.

This marks the fourth Hyatt property in the country, joining Hyatt Regency Cape Town, Hyatt House Johannesburg Sandton and Hyatt House Johannesburg Rosebank.

How is hospitality in the Middle East faring compared to other markets?
At present, the Middle East is experiencing a cross-border travel resurgence, fueled by a spike in leisure travel demand and large cultural and sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup and the F1 Grand Prix.

The GCC hospitality industry is setting a global benchmark for luxury travel experiences worldwide. This can be seen in Saudi Arabia, with giga-projects that include The Red Sea and NEOM — pioneering developments in sustainable luxury tourism.

Hyatt is proud to have two hotels in The Red Sea Development and one that’s on track to debut as part of Diriyah Gate. These properties will feature numerous innovative features, such as sustainable water management, smart sensors and electric vehicles, setting a blueprint for future projects.

What is the main driver of hospitality?
As a purpose-driven company that’s rooted in respect for people, Hyatt is deeply committed to creating a culture where every single colleague and guest feels welcome, cared for and has a sense of belonging. Our vision — a world of understanding and care — is complemented by our longstanding efforts to foster inclusive environments for all individuals. We remain steadfast in delivering incredible experiences.

Loyalty programs have proved invaluable when it comes to facilitating guest loyalty, as well as providing us with a wealth of information in terms of our guests’ preferred destinations, properties and travel trends. We can thus cater to the needs of our guests while also ensuring our growth plans are aligned with bringing to life diverse offerings.

The World of Hyatt, Hyatt’s award-winning guest loyalty program, boasts over 30 million members globally. The program offers a variety of ways for guests to earn and redeem points, which can be used against their hotel stays, as well as dining and spa services, across participating locations and brands.

Other industry drivers include quality of service, personalization and ease of booking. Furthermore, sustainability has become ever-more relevant, with guests paying greater attention to their carbon footprints and travel choices.

What do you think are the key differentiators that add value to the guest experience?
Traveler preferences are evolving, and guests are now seeking experiences that are unique, novel and will also have a positive impact on the environment. Our properties in The Red Sea Development Project cater to this need and will place the destination on a global map, attracting visitors from across the world. Miraval The Red Sea will join Grand Hyatt The Red Sea as the second Hyatt branded hotel, slated to open within the first phase of The Red Sea Development Project.

We look forward to introducing guests to a new standard of luxury and wellness synonymous with the Miraval brand, where the focus is on mindfulness and balance. Developing unique concepts for our guests lies at the heart of it all.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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