Rotana plans 14 hotel openings this year

Hutchinson … strong portfolio of 106 hotels

The announcement was made during the Rotana Hotels 2018 GCC Roadshow stop in Bahrain on February 7 by Guy Hutchinson, chief operating officer of Rotana, and Rabih Melhem, general manager, Park Rotana, and Park Arjaan by Rotana.

“2017 was a very big milestone for us as we turned 25 years old. From a company that came from very simple beginnings in Abu Dhabi in the UAE, we now have a strong operating portfolio of 106 hotels, serving 15 million guests per year in our hotels and restaurants,” Hutchinson said.

In 2018, the company is on track to make its mark with new hotels opening in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and Tanzania, Hutchinson told TTN.

Saudi Arabia tops Rotana’s list of markets for expansion with five properties scheduled to open in different cities by the end of the year. The key focus will be on its mid-market brand, Centro by Rotana. One hotel under its Reyhaan by Rotana brand will open in Dammam.

The company’s pipeline for 2018 includes:

• Saudi Arabia: The Centro Olaya, Riyadh (Q1), Centro Corniche, Al Khobar (Q1), Centro Salama, Jeddah (Q1) and one Centro in Madinah. Dana Rayhaan by Rotana will open in Dammam later in the year.

• Abu Dhabi – Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Abu Dhabi (Q1), Pearl Rotana, Abu Dhabi (Q1), Beach Arjaan by Rotana (Q1)

• Turkey – The Centro WestSide Istanbul (Q1) and WestSide Arjaan Istanbul by Rotana (Q1)

• Tanzania – Johari Rotana, Dar Es Salaam (Q1)

• Iran – Imam Reza Ryahaan by Rotana (Q3)

• Iraq – Slemani Rotana, Sulaymaniyah (Q3)

• Dubai – Al Jaddaf Rotana (Q4)

Bahrain is also a key focus market for Rotana, Hutchinson noted, with the company operating a strong portfolio of more than 680 keys in three five-star properties in the country – Majestic Arjaan by Rotana, ART Rotana, and Downtown Rotana. Expansion plans in the kingdom, however, are not in the books currently.

Presently, Rotana is working closely with Bahrain Tourism and Gulf Air to step up their joint efforts to promote the country’s tourism sector abroad.

“Over the past year, occupancy levels at our properties in Bahrain have remained stable at the 50-55 per cent mark, and this year we expect the figures to remain the same as well,” Hutchinson noted.

One of the challenges Bahrain faces is demand.  “It has an enormous amount to offer but it needs to be marketed more aggressively. We as hoteliers definitely have a stake in that responsibility which is why we are working closely with Bahrain Tourism and Gulf Air to step up promotion efforts,” he said.

The group has also been working together with international travel partners, like Thomas Cook in the UK and other travel groups in Europe, to collectively bring business to the kingdom.

According to Hutchinson, one upcoming trend in the kingdom is the demand for mid-market hotels. “Most Middle East markets have been heavily weighted towards five-star with 70-75 per cent of the hotel room inventory in the five-star category. Now what we see emerging very strongly is the demand for a more affordable accommodation option,” he said.

“And when we do consider to expand in Bahrain, Centro would be the brand that will take emphasis.”

Hutchinson also shed light on other developments by Rotana, including the launch of its new mobile app. The initiative is part of efforts to engage easily with customers, especially the millennial travellers, as well as offer a personalised experience. The new app allows customers to make instant reservations, check-in online, browse hotel and destination information as well as access a range of convenience-boosting services such as pre-arrival arrangements, concierge services, express check-out and the ability to view bills on the go.

The Rotana mobile app is available to download for free on the App Store, Google Play, Blackberry World and Windows Phone Store.