the future by continuously upgrading its facilities
With the global hospitality industry increasingly demanding, Gulf properties are continually upgrading facilities.
While the region boasts some of the world's most luxurious properties many built over the last two decades have in recent years upgraded facilities to ensure that they remain at the sharp end of the competition.
One of the first five-star hotels in Bahrain was The Holiday Inn, first opening in 1978 ahead of other international chains on the island including the Inter-Continental, the Sheraton, Forte and le Meridien.
From the middle of this year the property is set to undergo a third phase of renovation with improvements to the lobby, rooms, corridors and a new specialty restaurant.
The first phase of the present major renovation was started in 1999 with the second phase including the hotel's restaurants completed in 2000.
The Bahrain Tourism Company, operators of the Holiday Inn announced a net profit of BD849,679 ($2.27 million) last year.
Board chairman Mohamed Yousuf Jalal says that the company's investment in upgrading the hotel facilities reflects its faith in the growth of Bahrain's economy and the Holiday Inn's increasing tourist industry. ''Adding to that, Bahrain improved its status as the centre for venues for seminars, meetings and exhibitions."
Jalal says that the results showed an increase of 12.3 per cent above 1999. "This excellent result was achieved in spite of a major renovation of the Holiday Inn Hotel which is the main source of profit of the company. The net profit increased by nine per cent over last year although depreciation costs have increased by five per cent."
Meanwhile the company's general manager Abdulnabi Daylami says that the investment levels in renovations and extensions at present being undertaken by many hotels in Bahrain is an indication of the professional confidence in the nation's future.
"For the period 1999 - 2001 we earmarked BD4 million ($12 million) for renovation of rooms and facilities in addition to extra outlets," he says.
"Such large investments are made only when there is every confidence in the future and levels of business that can be achieved."
Daylami has confidence in the future "particularly in regional business for the hotels, as well as a little more from the international markets, particularly when dealing with conferences and seminars. Business visitors can at the same time become tourists for part of a visit by extending their stay by an extra day.
"In Bahrain the family tourism business is also increasing, with Saudi Arabia the main market, but the whole region provides business both from Gulf nationals as well as expatriates with our own occupancy rates stable at 65 per cent despite increasing competition both locally and regionally."
CHEAPEST ROOM RATES
Daylami says that the main areas of the tourist infrastructure in Bahrain are sound and the private sector has now realised that there are good opportunities including some missed in the past. However beaches, water sports and marine attractions all need to be further developed.
Giving an overview to the leading hotels in Bahrain, Daylami says that they offer the cheapest room rates in the region and at the same time the hotels have the best services.
"On January 1 a new price structure was introduced for the island's seven hotels in the five-star league. There are a number of categories including minimum rates for corporate clients, travel agents, tour groups, airlines and several other special sectors.
"Visitors find Bahrain attractive for a number of reasons in addition to it being so accessible through the causeway link. And of course it also has excellent communications."
In 1996 the Holiday Inn opened the Bahrain Conference Centre, a venue that has since proved popular not only for seminars and conferences but also for banquets and wedding receptions.
"It has nearly 1,200 sq m of space in total, offering reception facilities for up to 2,000, theatre style-seating for 1,700 and banqueting for 1,200," says Daylami.
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