Sofitel bringing the ‘French touch’ across the region

Nasser...designer statements

AS SOFITEL continues with its brand repositioning, the group is planning further new hotels with a designer touch.

Sami Nasser vice president Sofitel Middle East, Africa & Indian Ocean and general manager, Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, UAE, explained that the property is really aiming to be something different, in keeping with the Sofitel brand which aims to differentiate each property.

At Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach guests enjoy in-room amenities from iconic fashion brand Hermes with Nasser saying ‘we are offering luxury and very much focusing on the French touch‘ and the recently opened Sofitel in Bahrain features the region’s only thallasotherapy spa.

The brand will open a further new property in Abu Dhabi before the end of the year and, together with the Sofitel which launched in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia last year, these are part of a new generation of Sofitel products.

Nasser added: 'We have just recently opened the Sofitel Mauritius where the rooms and uniforms are designed by Kenzo and the Bangkok property, which will open in 2012, will be by Christain Lacroix.

'We are really going for the designer feel across the board – Vienna, which opened in December last year, is by Jean Nouvel.'

Sofitel’s stated ambition is to be the leading French and European ambassador in the international hotel sector, which is mainly dominated by brands from Asia and the English-speaking world. With its new positioning, the brand aimed to assert its position in the world of luxury.

That bold and daring strategy, which was launched in late 2007, can now be deemed a success with a new vision having been created for Sofitel, bolstered by strong brand values, a unique concept and a completely new set of standards, most notably its visual identity, which was overhauled in the ‘Life is Magnifique’ advertising campaign by British photographer Tim Walker.

Nasser added: 'The brand’s DNA acts as a seal and the link that unites the host and the traveller. Sofitel creates non-standard luxury hotels, each one different, by judiciously combining its origins – French elegance, savoir-faire, the art of hospitality – with the best of each country’s culture.'

He said that in other openings this year the group will also launch the Old Cataract at Aswan, Egypt, which is an iconic property.

'We will also be opening next to The Atlantis on The Palm in Dubai and a further property on Sheikh Zayed Road – The Palm property will be a leisure destination particularly focussing on families and the Sheikh Zayed property will be more corporate.

'We are also looking at expansion in Saudi Arabia in Makkah, Riyadh and Jeddah and are in serious discussions to go into Syria, Qatar and Jordan with another possible property in Beirut and in Africa we have a hotel coming up in Equatorial Guinea and we would like to be in South Africa but it has to be the right property.

'Because of the repositioning of the brand, which began in 2007, we are always looking for the right addresses.

'We went from around 200 hotels to around 120 which enabled us to raise the standard and with the Legends properties, which were introduced two years ago, we have raised the bar even further – the first was the Metropole Amsterdam and the Old Cataract and the Winter Palace in Luxor will also be Legends.'

Today, Sofitel encompasses 120 hotels with 30,000 rooms and suites in 40 countries as of late 2010.