ACCOR is preparing to embark on its largest and most dynamic brand awareness campaign yet at the upcoming ATM, where it will unveil plans to treble its regional portfolio to 58 properties by 2009.
The company will also unveil details of at least three hotel and tourism institutions in the area.
“The Middle East is a strategic growth area for Accor and our commitment to the region is underscored by our aggressive expansion,” Anthony Slewka-Armfelt, director of business development, Accor hotels WTC Dubai told TTN. “While the company has been in the region for a relatively long time, the opening of its regional office in 2000 in our expansion.”
The growth will be spread across four of its major brands: Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis. “However, more than half the total portfiolio will be in the upper mid-scale and business economy segment, which we consider a very important market,” says Slewka-Armfelt.
Accor already has 18 active properties across the Middle East, 24 have been signed and will be shortly under construction, and another 16 have “excellent prospects,” he says.
The group has seen a stellar performance in the Middle East over the past year and will host a double capacity stand at ATM featuring split levels with prominent brand visibility and additional entertainment and meeting areas, showcasing its accomplishments to date and announcing details of the new contracts.
“Accor is set to establish its leading management position in the Middle East,” managing director Christophe Landais said in a statement released to media.
In the past two years, the group has significantly increased its capacity in the Middle East with 19 hotels currently across the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen.
A further 17 hotels are set to open by the end of 2008 including highly prominent properties such as the Sofitel Jumeirah Beach Residence, Sofitel Burj Dubai, the eagerly-awaited $600 million 1240 unit Sofitel Zam Zam Towers in Makkah which is expected to launch in late 2006 and the Sofitel Al Maha Resort hotel in Doha, set to open in August 2008.
That commitment is further underlined by the brand’s investment in sustainable development. Accor will open three hotel and tourism institutes in Saudi Arabia, and is in talks to for a similar project in the UAE, says Slewka-Armfelt. “We are a company that is interested in employing nationals. Opening hotel schools is part of our effort to promote that aim.”
The three institutes in Saudi Arabia will be in Hofuf in the east, Taif in the northwest and Riyadh in the central part of the country.
By KEITH J FERNANDEZ