Accor, one of the world’s largest hotel and services groups, has confirmed its Middle East strategy for the next three years at Arabian Travel Market with the company expected to increase its operations from 18 to 58 hotels by the end of 2009.
The number of new properties set to open over the next 36 months will increase total capacity from 3,527 to 16,239 keys, representing a growth of 360% in 3 years across Accor’s Middle East portfolio in the GCC, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Yemen.
Speaking at a press conference, Accor management outlined the regional strategy for 2006–2009. The comprehensive plan incorporates 16 new property contracts currently under final contract negotiation. Together with the 18 existing properties and 24 hotels currently under construction, this will bring their product portfolio to 58 hotels by 2009.
Christophe Landais, Managing Director for Accor Middle East said: “Our objective is to be the leading hotel group in the region to offer a truly diversified portfolio of hotel brands. With the support of our regional partners and investors, we are delighted to be able to announce the commitment of major new projects over the next three years across the Sofitel, Novotel, Ibis, Mercure and Suite hotel brands.”
The announcement comes after a significant year for the company which signed contracts for 15 hotel projects in the Middle East between January 2005 and January 2006.
Included in the new hotel signings was the Sofitel Old Town Dubai, Sofitel Thalassa Palm Jumeirah, Mercure Grand Hotel and Residence Jumierah Lake, Novotel City of Arabia, Dubai, the Mercure Grand Residence Aziziah, Makkah, and the eagerly-awaited US$650 million 1240 unit Zam Zam Grand Suites (Sofitel brand) in Makkah which is expected to launch in September 2006.
Much of Accor’s growth has been as a direct result of significant effort and its dedicated approach to the region. The company recognises the Middle East as an important global market and has demonstrated its commitment to the region through the establishment of its dedicated management office in 2000, which now consists of 20 people.
Following the success of the past year, Accor now boasts 24 hotels currently under construction in the Middle East, totaling 8,262 keys. Of these 24 hotels, over half are in the mid scale and economy segments. The hotels under development are set to open by late 2008 and will see significant expansion across many Accor brands;
- 8 x Ibis
- 7 x Sofitel
- 6 x Novotel
- 2 x Mercure
- 1 x Suite hotel
The 16 new properties that are currently under final negotiation will be spread across the region with eight in the UAE, two in Oman, and one each in Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on the business economy Ibis brand and its expansion in the Middle East, Christophe Landais stated: “The domestic and intra-regional travel markets are untapped at the present time. This will undoubtedly be a strong growing market over the next five years, and there is the additional benefit of this market sector being less susceptible to economic fluctuations.”
“Through its concept and various products, Ibis targets a key market need in the region, which other international groups have ignored until now. Currently the economy sector of the hotel market is largely dominated by individual hotels that may offer variable standards and lack the consistency of service and facilities that travelers expect from a global brand,” Landais added.
Accor will be introducing the first Suitehotel to the region, its latest addition to the Accor brand portfolio. The mid-scale chain offers large room spaces that can be rearranged according to the guests needs or privatised for meetings with sliding doors. Built with high quality materials, Suitehotels are intended for customers looking for hotels that have more space, promise comfort, foster independence and provide the essentials for conducting business at fair prices.
An integral part of Accor’s long term strategy is the commitment to sustainable development programmes that consists of many facets such as the environment, using fair-trade products and promoting local job creation over the long term to benefit the economy. Part of the sustainable development strategy is to support training and job creation for the local population; to help build a long term relationship with the local community. In addition to prioritizing the hiring of local nationals with over 90% nationalization in Yemen and 40% nationalization in Saudi Arabia, Accor has proactively signed an agreement with the Saudi government to develop and manage three craft hotel schools. There will be schools in the Eastern, Central and Western Provinces. To further demonstrate its commitment to human capital in the region, Accor is in further talks with local authorities and private investors in the UAE to develop similar craft hotel schools in this country.
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