THAI hospitality chain Dusit International is serious about expanding its Middle Eastern footprint with possible new properties across the Gulf and North Africa, according to the group’s vice-president, sales and marketing.
“We are already looking at a property in Bahrain. I heard recently that operators are screaming out for properties in Oman and outside of our Cairo property, I am sure that once the property is open, we will look at more opportunities there,” Jennifer Cronin told TTN.
“We have a Middle Eastern representative in Dubai, and they are actively involved in studying the region.”
This is part of an aggressive expansion plan that has seen more properties announced in the last 12 months than in the 37 years previously, she adds.
Several new properties that are already under construction.
“Dusit will soon have a very strong presence in the Middle East. The Dusit Palm Island project will comprise two hotels, the Dusit Devarana and the Dusit Thani, plus the exclusive Dusit Residence,” she said. The Dusit Devarana with its Indian-inspired architecture, will host 116 rooms, Dusit’s signature Devarana Spa, conference and meeting rooms and two swimming pools. The Moroccan-inspired Dusit Thani is a family resort with 292 rooms, offering lively activities for all the family.
Also in the pipeline is a Dusit Residence The Palm with 180 apartment units, which will open in 2010, and the Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi – comprising a Dusit Thani hotel with 593 rooms and a Dusit Residence Abu Dhabi with 408 apartment units - to also open in 2010.
The Dusit Thani LakeView Cairo is also set to open in June 2008. The project will open in two phases. The first phase is the hotel will see 203 rooms, a club lounge, an all-day dining restaurant, swimming pool and laundry. The second phase comprises of 106 residences with one or two bedrooms, an Asian-themed restaurant, a large, fully equipped ballroom occupying 1,536sqm including a pre-function terrace, a gourmet bakery, a business centre, a multi-unit shopping bazaar as well as a bank.
“All these properties will all have in common the Dusit touch of Thai hospitality – charming service and graceful approach by staff to guests – all of which are the essential trademark of all Dusit properties,” Cronin added.
Other new hotels include the new the Dusit Princess Resort, Koh Chang, already open; the dusitD2 Baraquda in Pattaya (2008 opening) and another DusitD2 in Samui (2009).
In India, Dusit recently entered into a joint venture with Bird Hospitality Services to develop six four- and five-star hotels and resorts in New Delhi, Goa, Rishikesh, Pune, Amritsar and Jaipur.
“We also have a site in Vietnam and are talking about opportunities in China and Japan. We are also looking at the Australian market. So our focus is very much Asia-Pacific, South Asia and the Middle East,” she says. “We are being given opportunities in the Caribbean and the Maldives, but our main focus now is here.”
The group recently brought together its various sister companies – Dusit Hotels and Resorts, Royal Princess Hotels and Resorts and D2 – under one brand: Dusit International. “Now we have the whole range of Dusit hotels, so people can recognise easily that a Royal Princess is really a Dusit Princess and part of the Dusit family,” says Cronin.
“By making it Dusit International with a majority of expansion now happening in the Middle East, India and other parts of Asia like China and Vietnam, we see that is where we can get the brand recognition and it is a great opportunity for the company.”
In terms of funding for the expansion, she added, “We are setting up a property fund division, right now and they will look at investment in properties as well as development and management agreements. Franchise is not really the way we want to go in the future.
“We believe that we will either invest in or manage the property,” she says.
The group currently owns nine of the 19 hotels in its portfolio.
Dusit International is a member of the Global Hotel Alliance and will share recognition programs and marketing opportunities with other group hotels.