Major hotels on expansion trail in the Middle East

The Jeddah Hilton ... set to open this summer.

Several international hotel groups unveiled plans for hotel and resort expansion in the Gulf and the Middle East Several international hotel groups unveiled plans for hotel and resort expansion in the Gulf and the Middle East.

TTN's JONNA SIMON takes a look at what has been lined up by some of the major groups:

Bass Hotels & Resorts

The Middle East and Africa will continue to be a major growth area for Bass Hotels & Resorts, as the company forges ahead with the expansion of the Inter-Continental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands around the world.

Currently operating 111 properties in the Middle East and Africa with 25 under development and more in the pipeline, Bass Hotels & Resorts will open five Inter-Continental, four Crowne Plaza and 12 Holiday Inn properties by the end of next year in the region.

'The last year has seen tremendous growth for the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and we see the potential to double our portfolio of properties in the region to 1,000 by the year 2005,' said Dee Kayhill, director communications, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Expansion in the Middle East and Africa will see landmark openings at a number of new destinations.

The Holiday Inn Hammamat opens in July this year followed by the Hammamat Inter-Continental Resort in December.

New Inter-Continental resorts will open at Sharm El Sheikh and Taba Heights next summer, while another new Inter-Continental property follows in Makkah in November. Plans are also under way for an Inter-Continental in Ghana.

With five Crowne Plaza hotels currently under management in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Jeddah and Oman, the brand's first new resort opens in Sharm El Sheikh this summer, while another Egyptian Red Sea resort property is under development at Abu Soma. New Crowne Plaza hotels are also taking shape in Beirut and Cairo.

Bass Hotels & Resorts is reinforcing the Holiday Inn position in the Middle East and Africa with 14 properties under development, nine of these projects in Saudi Arabia and Egypt by the end of next year.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc

Starwood's Dubai beachfront property, the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort and Towers, is adding another 205 rooms to cope with customer demand with expansion starting in October this year.

Sami Zoghbi, president Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc Africa, India and Middle East, said: 'This beautiful hotel is a key player in our expansion plans. We have seven properties in the UAE and there are more to come, but this is our first beachfront hotel in Dubai.'

Zoghbi said Starwood planned to establish a global sales office in Dubai later this year to look after the group's properties in the GCC states and Egypt.

The Sheraton Kuwait has embarked on a sweeping renovation programme to incorporate four Starwood brands in one spectacular complex, comprising St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Sheraton and Four Points.

The Sheraton Amman Al Nabil Hotel & Towers occupies an extra-special place in the Starwood Middle East 5-star stable, according to Zoghbi.

'This property in Amman makes Starwood the only chain with a hotel in every major city in the Middle East. This new property is the number one 5-star hotel in Jordan', he said.


At Accor's fourth ATM, Christophe Jeannest, vice president worldwide sales, emphasised the French group's mission to sustain growth figures of 15 per cent achieved over the past year.

'The GCC is strategic from our point of view. As the overall European leader, Accor has 3,500 properties globally and an aggressive expansion plan that has led to a new opening almost every day during the last year,' said Jeannest.

Accor will introduce two new brands to Dubai, the Novotel and Ibis hotels, in various projects to be announced by this summer.

Christophe Landais, regional director of operations, highlighted the upcoming opening of a 150-room Sofitel in Al Ain, designed as a prize addition to UAE cultural destinations offered by European tour operators to the region's key feeder markets of Germany, France and the UK.

He announced Accor's determination to have European tour operators promote the Arabian Peninsula more and also outlined other new properties in the UAE in addition to a 180-room Novotel in Bahrain and a 130-room Sofitel in Yemen.

Rotana Hotels, Suites & Resorts

Rotana has just opened its third UAE hotel this year bringing the number of properties in the country to 14.

Coupled with the two new properties in Egypt and one in Lebanon, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation Ltd has become a force to be reckoned with within the Middle East hospitality industry.

It currently manages 17 hotels throughout the Middle East with additional hotels and resorts under development.

Two major extension projects and the completion of a third property totalling an investment outlay of Dh500 million ($136 million) is at present under way in Abu Dhabi.

On completion of the extensions at the Abu Dhabi Grand and Beach Rotana Hotel and the completion of the new Al Maha Rotana Suites, the company will have 30 per cent of the total 5-star rooms available in Abu Dhabi.

With five new hotels, constituting a 40 per cent growth, opened during the last six months, Rotana hotels is well under way to achieving its goal of having a property in every major city throughout the Middle East.

Rotana has also successfully transcended into resort development with two newly opened resorts in Egypt, the Coral Beach Tiran in Sharm El Sheikh and the Coral Beach Al Arish.

The Fujairah Rotana Resort is also under development.


Hilton International is opening new properties in Dubai, Jeddah, Ras Al Khaimah, Cairo and Sinai this year to add to its portfolio of 24 hotels in the Middle East as part of an ambitious plan unveiled at the ATM.

'We aim to have a Hilton in every capital city in the Middle East in the very near future and increase our revenues in the Middle East in the coming year,' said Jean-Paul Herzog, vice president Middle East.

The first Hilton on the horizon is the 422-room Jeddah Hilton opening this summer and raising to three the number of Hilton properties in the Kingdom.

Two Hilton hotels are opening in the UAE this autumn, complementing the recently opened beachfront Hilton Dubai with 389 rooms and five other hotels in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Fujairah.

Also planned for opening this autumn are two hotels in Egypt.

Next year, the Hilton Kuwait Hotel will open. This is a seafront property.

Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts

The group currently operates 23 hotels in the Middle East and has another 19 under development, including five launchings this year alone.

'The region is the fastest growing of any in the world for Le Meridien,' said Russell Sharpe, regional senior vice president sales and marketing.

With more than 1,100 rooms in Dubai, Le Meridien is also the largest international operator of beachfront accommodation and its hotels have repeatedly run at 100 per cent occupancy in the past year, most recently during the April holiday period.

Le Meridien Aqqa Beach Fujairah is the first five-star hotel to be built in 20 years in Fujairah.

A new 41-storey hotel opens in Cairo this month adding a further 870 rooms to Le Meridien Hotels' portfolio in the Egyptian capital and bringing the group's deluxe Royal brand to the country for the first time.

Work is well under way on the new hotel at the City Stars Complex, a project that will add a new dimension to the city hotel stock.

City Stars will cover 750,000 square metres with nearly half housing permanent offices plus 450 upscale apartments, skating rink, multiplex cinemas, food courts, indoor theme park and a 24-lane bowling alley.

Marriott International

Marriott International has been named to manage two new properties in the Middle East.

They are the 168-room Renaissance Golden View Hotel at Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea and the 300-room Aqaba Marrriott Hotel and Resort on the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Renaissance hotel will open later this year and will be the seventh property in the company's portfolio in Egypt.

The Aqaba resort will open in 2004 and will be the fourth hotel in the company's portfolio in Jordan.

In addition to the Renaissance, the property will feature Marriott's Sharm Beach Villas, 101 one-and two-bed-room villas vacation ownership resort located on Om el-Seid Hill.

'We are very pleased to see our lodging portfolio in the Middle East expand with these two properties', said Ed Fuller, president and managing director for international lodging.

'Both Egypt and Jordan are wonderful destinations offering varied tourism attractions and experiences'.

The Marriott International lodging portfolio in Egypt is currently represented by the 171-room Renaissance Alexandria Hotel, the 1,250-room Cairo Marriott Hotel, the 270-room Hurghada Marriott Beach Resort and the 216-room Sharm El Sheikh Marriott Resort.

Opening later this year in Egypt is the 425-room J W Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa Mirage City Cairo and the 310-room Taba Marriott Beach Resort on the Red Sea.

The Marriott International lodging portfolio in Jordan includes the 294-room Amman Marriott Hotel, the 216-room Jordan Valley Marriott Resort at the Dead Sea, which will open later this year and the 100-room Petra Hotel will be converted to the Petra Marriott following an extensive renovation programme.

Marriott International will open nine hotels in the Middle East by 2004.