MH&R finds winning formula
Launching a new hotel project is a challenge; there are many stakeholders to be satisfied.
The market must be penetrable, the owner must make his investment pay off and the operator must look at the potential contract being financially viable while integrating the property into the regional portfolio. At times these goals clash and those who develop a successful project are those who have learned the hard lessons of flexibility and teamwork. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts (MH&R) have found the winning formula.
The Swiss hotel chain is in the midst of a very ambitious expansion in the Middle East region. Since the company’s expansion started into Egypt in 1976 with the Mövenpick Resort Cairo, Pyramids, MH&R have established a portfolio of 24 city hotels and resorts throughout the region. The company’s continuing aggressive expansion will see this figure increase to 35 hotels and resorts with contracts already signed and the completion of the individual properties in various stages of construction.
This expansion is taking place in a region considered by many to be politically and economically unstable, and involves not only growing in established tourist destinations but also pioneering in areas that are not yet proven markets. In both cases, the potential for success must be properly exploited.
MH&R’s ability to create a synergy between their regional team, the general manager of the hotel and the owner results in a successful property every time. The pillars of success are the guests, the employees, the owners and the business partners. Those elements must be well balanced by the hotel management.
Jean Gabriel Pérès, president and CEO of MH&R, explains: “Over the next two years we shall be pushing ahead with our strategy of expansion in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf region. As our reputation for high quality, outstanding gastronomy and hand-picked management teams grows, it prompts more and more hotel owners to turn to MH&R for the management of their valuable properties.”
“It is our strategy to undertake flagship and first-class new projects to strengthen MH&R’s position in the region,” said Andreas Mattmüller, senior vice-president Middle East MH&R. “We are blessed with a group of like minded investors and owners with similar goals who enthusiastically support their connection with MH&R.”
Mövenpick Holding owns 66 2/3 percent of MH&R, the balance is held by the Kingdom Hotels Investment Company (KHI), a company with extensive experience in the Middle East.
The group’s partnership with owning companies is equally impressive. In November 2004, a management contract was signed for a new Mövenpick Resort as part of the spectacular Jumeirah Beach Residence Development in Dubai. The joint signatories at the ceremony held in Abu Dhabi were HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Omar Al Askari, Faran on behalf of the owning company and Pérès and Mattmüller for MH&R.
The landmark project is being carried out by the same team that developed Dubai Internet City (DIC) and Dubai Media City (DMC). The Mövenpick Resort Jumeirah Beach, which is due to open in the latter part of 2006, has been specifically designed to maximise the benefits of its proximity to the sea and JBR development. Comprised of a tower and a podium, the superior hotel will provide a complete, state-of-the-art infrastructure catering for the needs of both leisure and business travellers.
The Tower will house 298 guestrooms including 13 suites and 45 Executive Club rooms, while the podium has been designated for the public areas, the restaurants, banqueting rooms and a business centre. MH&R have another flagship property under construction in Dubai. A partnership was established between Omnix Group and KHI for investment in the superior 800 room Mövenpick Dubai Pearl Hotel, located in Media City. The new hotel is ideally located for the business traveller within the Media City Free Trade Zone. It is designed to introduce a new class of quality and luxury.
This property will enjoy a spectacular setting at the foot of Palm Island, the revolutionary multi-billion dollar project to create two islands in the shape of palm trees. Six kilometers in diameter, they will provide a unique site for hotels, residential villas, shopping malls, a marine park and berths to accommodate 150 yachts and 50 ‘super’ yachts.
The new Mövenpick Lagoona Beach Resort in the northern Emirate of Ajman, UAE, scheduled to open at the end of 2006, is another pioneering project. Although only an hour’s drive from Dubai it is still undeveloped as a tourist destination. The new Mövenpick will be a combination of a resort and city hotel with 240 rooms and three restaurants and will target both European and regional businessmen and tourists.
Following on the expansion across the Gulf States, an announcement was recently released that MH&R will manage its fifth hotel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar will be a five-star property owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Juma’a is being constructed at an estimated cost of $70 million, with a design that will make it a landmark in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province.
MH&R are very delighted to be associated with Sheikh Mansour bin Juma’a as the owner of the property. They cite his market knowledge, open mindedness and his approachability as reasons why the development process has gone so smoothly.
A new and exciting destination for the Swiss chain is Sana’a in Yemen. The Mövenpick Hotel Sana’a will set new standards in the city the most lavish and by far the largest hotel to date. As the first hotel to be built in Sana’a in years, the property is not only indicative of MH&R’s pioneering spirit but recognises the potential Yemen holds as a business and tourist destination.
Located in the newly-developed and prestigious area of Dahr Himyar, just seven minutes from the city centre and 20 minutes from Sana’a International Airport, the hotel will include 330 luxury spacious rooms including 31 suites, a presidential suite, and is due to open later this year.
Other Mövenpick projects that are scheduled to be opened soon and are a result of the same type of intensive cooperation are: Anwar Al Madinah in Saudi Arabia, the Taba Resort in Egypt and the El Obour Hotel and Golf Club near Cairo.
The partnership between owner and operator can spell the difference between a very successful and profitable hotel and a financial disaster for all involved. MH&R not only has the flair for selecting and being selected by the right partners, it also invests the time, know-how and energy to make the partnership a synergy for success.