Kempinski is promising to elevate the hotel experience with several new properties underway across the region, according to Ulrich Eckhardt, senior vice-president, Middle East & Africa for the hotel chain.
“Bahrain, as the case of Kempinski Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, will set a new benchmark for mixed use and mall entertainment, this time based on water; imagine a Wild Wadi with a roof over it,” he said by email, referring to a luxury five-star hotel at the Bahrain City Centre development, set for a 2008 opening. “Our property in Syria reflects historical values and ties up with the heritage of Syria as it is a restored khan (hotel) located in the heart of the old city of Damascus.”
Eckhardt said Kempinski has signed a total of 41 new contracts for properties that will be developed over the next three or four years.
“Another 20 hotels are in the pipeline in different locations around the world but these are yet to be finalized,” he said.
The group has already announced plans for a 240-room property in Sahl Hasheesh on the Red Sea in Egypt, the Kempinski Hotel Old Palace, built in traditional Arabic and Islamic style, representative of the ornate palaces found throughout the region. “We will eventually be present in many of the Egyptian resort spots as well as the city of Cairo with true market leader properties. We are currently looking into many opportunities there, and our presence in Egypt is a must because it naturally complements our presence elsewhere in the Middle East and GCC, as well as Europe, which are the main feeder markets for Egypt. This would also serve as further exposure for our brand to the vast numbers of visitors visiting Egypt annually.”
The group is also due to open a boutique property in Lebanon, the Kempinski Hotel Al Abadiyah Hills will be located in Dhour Abadiyah, Lebanon. Situated between Bhamdoun and Aley, the entire development of 12 private villas, 33 townhouses and 220 luxury apartments, as well as a spa and other facilities, is set for a 2009 debut.
“This market in my opinion will see further growth especially with the increasing developments, rising living standards and disposable income in the region. The potential for growth will rapidly increase as the tourism sector and public infrastructure become more sophisticated. This will generate an ongoing source of business, as both regional and international visitors are attracted to the high calibre of tourism and hospitality facilities,” said Eckhardt.
Asked to elaborate on the brand’s strategy in the region, he said Kempinski as a hotel management brand understands the difference in culture and expectations as well as management styles in the Middle East and Africa as compared to Europe. “We seek to build on the culture and heritage of the location and the uniqueness of each individual property. This is the key to our success in this region and other areas we operate in, we respect the market dynamics and complement the same, not at all the copy and paste approach. We have a clear vision for this region and we are sparing no effort to realize it.”
by Clark Kelly
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