Top hoteliers weigh in

Top hoteliers weigh in

HN hears from hoteliers who are coping with the current hospitality landscape and optimistic about its future

Read After: 70 top hotel projects >

Amine E. Moukarzel
Ph.D, President
Golden Tulip – MENA Region Louvre Hotels Group – MENA Region

“Louvre Hotels Group and its 10 brands maintain the momentum of our development growth as the respective market places move forward in real estate, growing the economy, in particular, hospitality development in the midscale and upscale. Midscale is with Campanile, Tulip Inn and Kyriad; upscale is with Golden Tulip and indeed with the 5-star, Royal Tulip brand. Furthermore, we witnessed the increase of Hotel Apartment and introduced our new Tulip Residences to cater the extended stay segment throughout the Middle East. The fastest growth remains in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the holy cities of Madinah Al Munawara and Makkah. We are the number one operator in Al Madinah Al Munawara with four Golden Tulip hotels and one Tulip Inn and we aim to add on one Campanile and one Kyriad. Strategically, some markets have become weaker than others and some have become stronger, putting the focus on emerging markets and secondary cities, mainly in Unaizah – Saudi Arabia and, Salalah in Oman. The strength we add on today relates to the new brands we bring in to the region from our Chinese Group Jinjiang strengthen by Louvre Hotels Group Worldwide.”

Makram El Zyr
Corporate Vice President – Research & Development

“Our portfolio has increased from just two hotels in 1993, to more than 110 today across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Turkey. This includes 65 operating properties and 46 properties that are currently under development. We aim to have 107 properties in the coming years, and are well on track to achieve this goal. Once complete, these new properties will add 11,856 rooms to Rotana’s inventory, taking our total number of rooms to 29,166. While demand for luxury accommodation remains strong, Rotana is well-positioned to cater to the growing trend towards mid-scale offerings through our broad portfolio of brands, which are aimed at a wide range of guest segments. This year, the opening of the Johari Rotana in Tanzania will mark our entrance into the East African market. We will make another country debut with the opening of the Bosmal Arjaan by Rotana in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here in the MENA region, we are launching the Dana Rayhaan by Rotana in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. This new hotel will add 285 keys to our inventory in Saudi Arabia, which currently consists of six hotels. Looking ahead to 2020, our expansion in the Kingdom is set to continue with the launch of Centro Corniche, Al Khobar. In the UAE, we will be opening Al Jaddaf Rotana, Cayan Cantara Arjaan by Rotana and Cayan Cantara Residences by Rotana. We’ll also be adding our third hotel in Jordan with the opening of Centro Amman, as well as a property in Iraq, Slemani Rotana, Sulaymaniyah.”

Hassan Ahdab
President Hotel Operations
Dur Hospitality

“Dur Hospitality’s Hotel Operations arm has witnessed success and growth in many avenues and its portfolio. Its home-grown Saudi hotel brand Makarem Hotels has significantly grown to currently operate 1,415 rooms with a growth plan that comprises of 1,176 rooms in the pipeline, totaling up to 2,591 rooms under its portfolio of existing and upcoming properties in Makkah and Madinah. This plan places Makarem on the path to achieving its goals of increasing its portfolio to 5,000 rooms by 2023 and 10,000 rooms by 2028. Some of our anticipated projects include the renovation of the Makarem Ayjad Hotel in Makkah, as well as the expansion of the Riyadh Airport Marriott Hotel in Riyadh and the opening of two Holiday Inn Hotels in Jubail and Yanbu, with our longstanding partners Marriott International Hotels and InterContinental Hotel Group, respectively.  Earlier this year, we announced the signing of an agreement to operate Makarem Jabal Kaaba, a 5-star hotel in Makkah, currently under construction and is set to open in Q1 of 2020. Additionally, we also announced the signing of a contract to also operate Makarem Sagryah Tower Hotel, Makkah which is also due to open in Q1 of 2020.

Kees Hartzuiker

“The local markets are now mature and like most mature markets have steady growth and less dramatic fluctuations. At Roya- we have been market pioneers for more than 20 years and continue to answer the market needs for developing concepts that are fit for purpose and can continue to fill the investor vision for the property ROI yields. There is a lot going on and we have developments throughout the region and internationally. Dubai continues to grow and develop as does Saudi Arabia. The Saudi ‘Red Sea’ projects are certainly driving a lot of investment in a new space. Oman is witnessing a lot of interest particularly as a new waterfront resort destination.”

Bastian Blanc
VP Operations
Middle East and North Africa

“The majority of our growth in the region will continue to be predominantly driven by the UAE and KSA. We don’t expect this to change in the short term. We are currently working on many projects in these markets with a particular focus on our core midscale brands. Historically, there has been a strong demand across the upper upscale and luxury segments in the Middle East and we believe this demand will always be there. As part of our growth strategy, we are opening several best in class hotels across the region. This year, we will debut our boutique brand, Hotel Indigo with the opening of Hotel Indigo Downtown Dubai, and expand the footprint of our upscale brand, Crowne Plaza with the opening of Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina. We have also recently signed our first Staybridge Suites hotel in Bahrain which is due to open next year and will complement a large and successful network of our extended stay offering within the region. We are also very excited to launch an InterContinental Resort in Ras Al Khaimah, which is due to open in the next couple of years and will mark our very first IHG hotel in the emirate. This has been a successful year for us so far. We recently signed two new hotels in Saudi Arabia; Holiday Inn Madinah King Abdulaziz Road and Holiday Inn Jeddah Al Hamra with Al Hokair Group. In April 2019, we also announced the signing of Staybridge Suites Dubai Financial Centre, Staybridge Suites Dubai Internet City and Staybridge Suites Manama Al Seef in Bahrain. These signings are in line with our strategy to expand our midscale footprint in the Middle East. Earlier this year, we also announced the opening of our first voco hotel in the Middle East – voco Dubai and 2 more brand signings – voco Giza Pyramids in Egypt and voco Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. The brand has built significant momentum in the region since its global launch in June 2018 and has received great interest from our owners and partners.”

Tim Cordon
Senior Area Vice President Middle East & Africa
Radisson Hotel Group

“The Radisson Hotel Group has set their growth strategy and aims to double its portfolio in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by 2022 as part of the robust five year development strategy. We are on target to open an additional 50 hotels and more than 13,000 rooms across the region by 2022, with a continued focus on the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We are committed to developing our brand presence across the region with an active pipeline of hotels that extends across our entire brand portfolio. As the UAE and Saudi Arabia remains key markets in the Middle East, the group’s expansion in this region will therefore continue to focus on these markets, developing the presence of our key brands catering to the varied travel segments in business and leisure. This year Radisson plans to open four hotels in Dubai, including the 206-key Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Canal, the 171-key Radisson Red Hotel and Apartments in Dubai Silicon Oasis, 481-key Radisson Hotel Dubai Damac Hills, and the 253-key Radisson Blu Hotel Apartments in Al Sufouh Gardens. Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the signing of its second Radisson Collection property in Riyadh and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Mansard Riyadh, A Radisson Collection Hotel & Residences brings the group’s portfolio in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to 43 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments and more than 10,000 rooms in operation and under development.”

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Henk Meyknecht
Chief Operating Officer Middle East & Africa and Member of the Management Board
Kempinski Hotels

“As Europe’s oldest hotel management company, we grow in selective destinations and carefully choose our relationship with potential investors and owners. We remain very positive on growth opportunities in the region. Currently, we operate 22 hotels, resorts and residences in the MEA region with a growth target to 30 properties within the next years. Under construction are hotels and residences in Medina, Riyadh and Dubai Business Bay and Brazzaville. Under development are hotels and residences in Lagos, Abidjan, Mecca, Egypt. We are very pleased with our entry into the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina, with the new luxury hotels.”

Kurt Straub
Vice President of Operations Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia

“Hyatt has been following a robust expansion plan in the Middle East. The overarching goal is to maximize the core business and continue to introduce new and innovative brands and properties to the right places at the right time. We plan on doubling our portfolio in the Middle East by 2022. We’re introducing new brands and innovative concepts and as such, we are making sure we have the right people and resources in place to pioneer our expansion. Through a dynamic team, new vision, loyalty and quality of service we intend to not only continue but heighten our journey of excellence that began in 1980 when the first Hyatt property opened in Dubai. The expansion strategy has been reflected on a global level through Hyatt’s acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality, which has led to the Alila, Destination, Joie de Vivre, Thompson and tommie brands, now falling within the Hyatt portfolio. The primary focus this year lies in the lifestyle sector, a key growth driver for Hyatt; the Centric and Andaz brands will see continued expansion. We’re also augmenting our brand presence in Saudi Arabia, given that the country is an up and coming commercial and travel hub within the region, in addition to which it continues to thrive on its religious tourism sector.”

Jerome Briet
Chief Development Officer
Middle East & Africa
Marriott International

“Our growth across the Middle East and Africa is fueled by a strong demand for our diverse range of well-established brands, each offering different attributes that cater to this region’s ever changing and evolving marketplace. This region continues to present us with opportunities to further grow and enhance our portfolio across new and established markets. While the majority of our growth will be through new-builds, we are seeing an increasing number of conversion opportunities, especially in the luxury space. Year-to-date, the company has opened five new properties in the region and is expected to add 14 more – bringing its portfolio across the Middle East and Africa to nearly 270 properties and over 60,000 rooms – by the end of the year.”

Chris Nader
Vice President – Development
Shaza Hotels

“Shaza Hotels currently has a portfolio of 14 hotels in the MENA region, all located in the GCC. These hotels are in Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat, Salalah, Kuwait, Doha, Madinah, Makkah, Riyadh, and Jeddah. Whilst we are currently in negotiation for more projects in the UAE, KSA and Oman, we are also focusing on growing our portfolio outside the GCC, and are particularly looking at Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and Indonesia. The strategy is to have at least 30 percent of the portfolio outside the GCC. The year 2019 is a significant milestone for us as we enter several new markets. We opened our first hotel in Riyadh. We opened the Sharjah Collection by Mysk in Sharjah, marking our entry into the UAE. We are getting ready to open our first hotel in Qatar in a few months, as well as our first hotel in Dubai, on Palm Jumeirah. Next year, we will also enter the growing market of Salalah with a stunning beach front resort. The third property within the Sharjah Collection by Mysk, Al Badayer Oasis, is in the final stages of pre-opening, with an expected opening toward the end of August. This upscale desert camp will join the Kingfisher Lodge and the Al Faya Lodge to create a unique 3 in 1 travel circuit to discover the culture, hospitality and natural beauties that the Emirate of Sharjah has to offer.”

Patrick Fitzgibbon
Senior Vice President Development EMEA

“As Hilton enters its 100th year, we have almost 30,000 rooms in our MENA pipeline and have recently announced deals that will see us introduce our lifestyle brand Canopy by Hilton to KSA, as well as Embassy Suites by Hilton to the region. The addition of 100 hotels will create genuine value for the economy with some 25,000 new jobs across these hotels as they open in the coming years. Hilton has seen significant demand in MENA for its mid-market brands, including Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton, with 25 hotels representing these two brands in its existing development pipeline. This is very much in keeping with goals from regional governments including Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 which is focused on achieving 30 million visitor arrivals into the country by 2030.
Hilton’s pipeline includes its recently announced four-hotel deal with Shomoul for Avenues -Riyadh which will include a Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and Hilton Garden Inn, as well as debuting its lifestyle Canopy by Hilton brand. This development alone will add 1,400 rooms to Saudi Arabia where Hilton has its largest development pipeline in the MENA region. In addition to this, Hilton will open a Waldorf Astoria in Dubai later this year and will continue to grow its strong presence in Ras Al Khaimah with three new properties in its pipeline for the emirate, including a Conrad, Hampton by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton Residence. Hilton will continue to open additional hotels across the Middle East and in key locations in North Africa, including Egypt, as well as a signature resort in Morocco when Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa opens later this month.”

Laurent A. Voivenel
Senior Vice President
Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India
Swiss-Belhotel International

“With 17 percent of our global portfolio of hotels centered in the Middle East and Africa region, comprising 3,000 rooms, it is a very important region for us. Overall our strategy is to accelerate expansion across the MENA region whereby we have mapped out exciting opportunities. Our target is to have 25 hotels (in construction and operation) by 2025 representing approximately 6,000 rooms in the region. However, GCC will continue to be our biggest market with 60 percent of portfolio concentrated here in high-growth business and leisure destinations. The Middle East continues to present us with fantastic opportunities to further enhance and diversify our portfolio. We are going to open over the next nine months, six exceptional hotels – two in Kuwait, one in Oman, two in Bahrain and one in Qatar. This will be followed by two other projects. In addition, we have a robust development pipeline that will tremendously boost our inventory of keys in the region. We are very excited to introduce this year four new brands in the Middle East region from our unique and diversified portfolio of 14 brands giving greater choice to our guests. This creates a tremendous opportunity for growth as we expand our brand portfolio in the market offering more options to both owners and travelers in more destinations.”

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