Layia Hospitality last month announced the 2008 openings of four new properties in the UAE.
And by the end of 2009 it will have opened an additional four properties, also in the UAE.
Managing partner of the hospitality group Daniel Hajjar, who will be at ATM this May, said “We launched last month to make people aware of our presence. We want people to know that they have other alternatives available to them, and we want to tell investors we are here.
“We want to select our owners to make sure they understand our business – we are not looking for investors that want to catch the boom in the industry. We want people that are committed to the hotel industry, not people looking to make a quick buck.”
Founded by Hajjar, a hotelier with over 25 years of experience, and GGICO (a public trading company), the Layia Hospitality brand of four and five star properties will offer both long and short stays.
“In 2009 we will have a hotel in Al Qusais area which is going to be called Layia Al Qusais near Terminal 2,” he said. This is to be a four star property with 235 rooms and suites and opens in the summer.
Another property near the Mall of the Emirates will offer 92 hotel studios and suites. Known as Layia Orchid Hotel Apartment Al Barsha, Dubai, it is also expected to open in summer.
“We will have Layia Yasmine Hotel, 300 rooms and suites, seven meeting rooms and a 750 sq m spa,” he added. This is also near the Mall of the Emirates and due to open last quarter.
“Off Sheikh Zayed Road, will be Layia Serviced Villas, which will consist of 34 serviced units – these will be ready by the last quarter of 2009,” he said. These particular villas will be useful to people relocating to a new city as they will be fully furnished in a modern yet simple style, offer three, four or five bedroom units and offer flexibility in aspects including rental terms. The villas will have a concierge desk, security, housekeeping and maintenance around the clock as well as recreational facilities including a pool, a playground and a day-care centre for children. Plus they will offer food and beverage services.
“We strive to make a refreshing difference in the delivery of a world class product through dynamic hands on leadership. Everything we do at Layia will be delivered with the utmost professionalism and always in a relaxed and confident manner,” said Hajjar.
“So these are our immediate extension plans but we are in final negotiations for seven additional properties that would open in 2010 or 2011, and these would be ranging between 250 and 500 rooms each.”
“The openings are nicely spread out which allows us to build up the team. All of those opening next year will open around mid to end of 2009 so that will give us enough time to look for people.”
The group is presently well ahead with recruiting line staff from India, Nepal, China Sri Lanka and Phillipines, but Hajjar admits, they are finding it “challenging” to source key management staff.
The company is trying to project a different image within the hospitality industry - one of being casual but professional, and highly respectful to all sectors of the community with whom they deal. Said Hajjar, “For us, we approach everyone in exactly the same way. Customers, suppliers, employees, ministers – they will receive exactly the same respect from us. This will be the philosophy of the hotel,” he said.
“We will be hiring some really sophisticated training and HR people make sure that this philosophy is passed on to all staff.”
Casual, but the group is also ambitious. “We have big plans, but at the same time our feet are on the ground. We are going to take it very slowly –opportunities are great where we are so it is not going to be such a battle to find properties - but we want to make sure we take the right properties that could add value to the brand and ensure a good investment return to the owners,” said Hajjar.
And the name? “Layia is a flower that lives in the desert. The flower represents the character of the company. We are young. We are just starting to grow,” he said. “The flower has a magic quality, and is used on special occasions to represent feelings – it is emotionally linked to people.”