Earlier last month, Somerset Al Fateh Bahrain was named Best Serviced Apartment Provider Bahrain 2015 at the 2015 Business Destinations Travel Awards. The property is managed by CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott).
TTN caught up with Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s area general manager for the Gulf Cooperation Council, to see what plans the world’s largest serviced residence owner-operator has for the Middle East.
“We see a major gap for quality serviced residences across the Middle East but more so in the developing markets such as Saudi Arabia and Oman -these markets are not mature as the UAE and don’t have any international service apartment brands as of now. There may be a lot of locally branded properties but they do not reflect what we can provide at Ascott.
“Both markets will soon have an influx of international brands coming in and we want to have the first movers’ advantage. The demand is really growing,” he says.
“This year we will open Ascott Sari, Ascott Tahlia and Citadines Al Salamah in Jeddah Saudi Arabia and Somerset Panorama Muscat Oman. Next year Ascott Olaya Riyadh and Somerset Corniche Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Ascott Culture Village Dubai in UAE and Somerset Maslak Istanbul in Turkey will be operational. We will add a total of 1406 keys to our portfolio by 2016.”
The 81-unit Citadines Culture Village Dubai will open in 2017 within Culture Village, an area poised to become the artistic and cultural hub of Dubai.
The Ascott Limited currently manages Ascott Park Place Dubai, Ascott Doha, Somerset West Bay Doha in Qatar and Somerset Al Fateh in Bahrain.
Overall, the use of technology has increased a lot over the last 20 years, says Miccolis. “It has now become clear that technology is critical in our industry. From reservation, guest satisfaction until check out – the whole process requires the use of technology in some capacity.
“We’ve now partnered with Samsung exclusively, ensuring a seamless smart experience in our properties. Technology will be part of basic infrastructure of our units. Our guests will be able to manage many services with one device: turn the AC on or off, the TV and any other devices, even while they are travelling abroad.
Imagine checking if there’s milk in your fridge or adjusting the AC if you want your room to be at a certain temperature, you can control it without being inside,” he says.
OTAS AND AGENTS
“We’ve been working with OTAs and we need to be more well-known. Our brands are well known in Asia and very well known in Europe but we really need to work closely with local agents, operators and OTAs. We will continue to promote our own brand site and our own channel as well, of course.
“By next year we should have 15 properties in the Middle East and grow at a rate of 40 per cent per year while maintaining the quality that is expected of us.”
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.