MIDDLE-EASTERN hotel chain Rotana Hotels & Resorts looks to 2007 as a year of expansion and consolidation, and will unveil a new programme for travel agents to better sell their properties, the group’s president and CEO Selim El Zyr told TTN.
“Rotana Hotels is definitely geared towards another challenging year, as we continue to expand. The expansion is taking us into new markets such as Kuwait, Qatar and Sudan as well as increasing our portfolio in the UAE,” he said.
Last month saw the opening of three new properties, the Al Manshar Rotana Hotel in Kuwait, the BurJuman Rotana Suites in Dubai and the Al Salam Rotana Hotel in Khartoum. The new Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa on the Al Aqah coast of the UAE opens this month, while later in the year, the group expects to start taking guests at more properties in Dubai: the Amwaj Rotana Resort, its first resort in the shiny emirate, and the Rose Rotana Suites, the tallest all-suites hotel in the world. Also set to open this year is the chain’s first property in Doha, Qatar: the City Center Rotana Hotel, and the Raouché Rotana Suites in Beirut, by the end of the first quarter of 2007 in line with original schedules.
“Even though the country is facing several challenges due to the political and economical instability, we are committed to the opening of Raouché Rotana Suites,” he says about the situation in Lebanon. With the group’s other Lebanon property, the Solidère Rotana Suites, is in design development and a decision has yet to be taken on when to break ground. “The political situation is definitely affecting our plans.”
Nine new hotels in one year is ambitious all right, but El Zyr is bullish all the way. “With tourism and business traveller in-flow on the increase we are uniquely placed to meet their needs. Our product offering is exceptionally strong, our properties are in the right locations and our level of service much sought after. Don’t forget we are focused solely on the Middle East, and have concentrated our efforts in that direction, we know the region better than anyone. We have already achieved a great deal and 2007 will see us further solidify our position as the regions operator of choice.”
Overall, in strategy terms, El Zyr says the focus is always on working to get closer to customers; and “never being arrogant with the rates despite the opportunities.” The chain is placing an increased emphasis on intense sales training and is investing in online technologies to further widen distribution channels.
The group is strengthening its sales team in the UK, and will be present at ITB this year too, to reach the European market. Later this year, El Zyr says, the Rotana will open a sales office in Saudi Arabia.
El Zyr won’t elaborate on the programme for agents, but only says the details will be communicated at a later stage.
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