DUBAI—With the official reopening of the 317-room Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre in February and pending opening of 354-room Pullman Dubai Jumeirah Lake Towers, Accor is “determined to reinforce its position in the upscale segment in the region,” according to Christophe Landais, managing director of Accor Middle East.
He said those plans fit with Accor’s strategy to increase its global network of 300 upscale hotels to 400 by 2015.
“Our current luxury and upscale hotel network in the Middle East is strong with 17 hotels (Sofitel, Pullman and MGallery) and more than 5,200 rooms in six countries.
“Regionally, 2012 was a very successful year as we opened six new hotels with over 2,100 rooms, including Sofitel in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and Pullman Zamzam in Makkah (Saudi Arabia) and signed six new hotels including a new flagship Sofitel hotel in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).”
An “offensive strategy for luxury and upscale developments” spearheads Accor’s agenda for 100 hotels in the Middle East/Africa region by 2015 across the group’s eight brands, Landais said.
Accor Middle East
Growth of this sector is firm with six new hotels opening by 2015 in the region, including: three new Sofitel hotels, two in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and one in Riyadh; two Pullman hotels, Pullman JLT in Dubai at the beginning of 2014 and one in Doha; and the opening of a MGallery hotel in Doha.
Recent closures, notably Pullman Mall of the Emirates, are not a sign of setbacks in the expansion plans, Landais said. Discussions are underway for various new luxury and upscale projects that will reinforce Accor’s position within those markets.
“Our longstanding relationship with (shopping mall owners) Majid Al Futtaim Holding continues. We still manage seven hotels owned by MAF, including the newly reopened and completely refurbished Pullman Dubai Deira City Center, and we are in advanced discussions with them about the management of new hotels outside the (United Arab Emirates).
“In general, we have not faced any particular challenges in the upscale market, and we are confident of a strong future. Over the past three years, our upscale portfolio throughout the Middle East has been bolstered by openings of five Sofitels including the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan after extensive refurbishment, and hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as Pullman hotels in Makkah and Dubai.
“Now we are very excited to open our first property in Palm Jumeirah in July with the 500 room-plus Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, followed by openings of two more Sofitels, two Pullmans and one MGallery hotel during 2014 and 2015,” he said.
Landais said the Middle East’s total population of more than 300 million, which includes 30 cities of more than one million inhabitants, offers huge potential for future growth. Record high visitor numbers from Egypt to Dubai, improvements in infrastructure and flourishing economies are fueling the market.
“Saudi Arabia, the (United Arab Emirates) and Qatar have great pool of investors seeking hotel investments regionally and globally as well as an interest for rapid development in hospitality sectors in terms of infrastructure, market maturation and increase in visitor numbers.”
To harness that potential, Landais said Accor is “proactively identifying, acquiring, retaining and creating new business partnerships with the region’s valuable investors and hotel owners for our upscale hotels.”
“We are ready to provide our expertise in hotel development in any country.
Our target is to open at least 20 new luxury and upscale hotels within the next five years throughout the region,” he said.
Accor’s objective is to reinforce its position in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as Saudi Arabia, which has three upscale hotels and 1,800 rooms, with the Sofitel Riyadh opening in 2015.
“We are also looking for opportunities in Egypt, Jordan and Oman as we believe that these markets possess potential for upscale products,” he said.
Landais is confident the group’s history in the region will help it overcome the increasing competition. “With hotels operating in 10 countries in the region, our knowledge and market intelligence provides us a great advantage in responding to these factors,” he added.
“Sofitel, Pullman and MGallery are performing well in the region by addressing the needs of Middle East travelers as well as providing strong return for owners and investors.”
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